5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 10: Communication Requirements Analysis

1.  Introduction

One of the only formulas that involve the communications management knowledge area is the one that gives the number of potential communication channels, N, given stakeholders involved with a project.    The formula is

N = n(n-1)/2

The number of communication channels increases quadratically or to the second power as the number of stakeholders increases linearly or to the first power.    In practical terms, this means that there is an inherent tendency towards complexity of communications on a project as the number of stakeholders goes up, and it is important for the project manager to limit that complexity by introducing a communications plan that gives enough information to stakeholders, but not so much that they are inundated by information that they may not necessarily need.    The purpose of this post is to discuss Communication Requirements Analysis, one of the tools & techniques of process 10.1 Plan Communications Management.    This is where the communication needs of the stakeholder are analyzed to determine who gets what information, and when.

2.  Communication Requirements Analysis

One of the human resource tools is a RACI chart, which stands for Responsible-Accountable-Consult-Inform, which answers the following questions with regards to different roles stakeholders play on various aspects of the project:

  • Responsible–who will do the project work
  • Accountable–who will make the project decisions
  • Consult–in case a decision needs to be made, who will be consulted
  • Inform–in case a decision is made, who will be informed

The stakeholders should be given information in the case of “consult” and “inform”, the last two items on the RACI chart.  This gives you an idea of how the stakeholders communication requirements are determined, by what role they will play in the various aspects of the project.

3.   Inputs of Communication Requirements Analysis

  • Organizational charts
  • Project organization and stakeholder responsibility relationships
  • Stakeholder information and communication requirements from within the stakeholder register
  • Disciplines, departments, and specialties involved in the project
  • Logistics of how many persons will be involved in the project and at which locations
  • Internal communication needs (when communicating with stakeholders within the organization)
  • External communication needs (when communicating with stakeholders outside of the organization, including the public and the media)

The first three are involved with knowing what the stakeholder’s responsibility is within the organization and within the project.   The fourth is involved with those subject matter experts who will need to be consulted on issues that require specialized knowledge.   The fifth is involved with logistics, and the sixth and seventh deal with company guidelines that may come into play with these types of communications.   In summary, the first four inputs affect who gets what communication, and the last three affect how  they will receive the communications.

4.    The Communications Goldilocks Zone

The stakeholder should not get so little information that they cannot do the role that have on the project, but they should also not get so much information that they start tuning out all of it in order to reduce the complexity of their own in-box.    They should get just enough information in order to get the job done, but not so much that they don’t have time for the other jobs they must do.    That is the Goldilocks zone of communication.

The advancements of technology afford a project manager with various methods of communication that can be employed on a project.    In choosing which technology is the right one for the project, the project manager must considered various factors, and these are the subject of the next post, which I will be writing after tomorrow (a vacation day).


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