5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 10: Communication Management Plan

The following chart contains a list of those elements which may be contained within a project’s Communication Management Plan, the output of process 10.1 Plan Communications Management.  The 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide merely lists them, but I have decided to organize them a bit by listing those elements which pertain to a specific management area, or in the last case, the Environmental Enterprise Factors or Organizational Process Assets.

  Management Area Communication Plan Element
1. Integration Escalation process:  time frames and management chain for escalation of issues
2. Scope Language, format of communications
3. Cost Resources allotted for communication
4. Time Time frequency of distribution of information, time frame for receipt of information and response
5. Human Resources Persons responsible communicating information
6 Persons responsible for authorizing release of confidential information
7. Persons who will receive information
8. Communications Information flow within the project
9. Reason for distribution of information
10. Methods or technologies used for communication
11. Methods for updating and refining communication plan
12. Stakeholder Stakeholder communication requirements
13. EEFs, OPAs Constraints derived from regulation, technology, or organizational policies

As you can see, the communications knowledge area intersects with a lot of other knowledge areas, and this chart shows this interaction.   The communications management plan should include guidelines and templates for project team meetings, virtual meetings, and e-mail communications.

The main purpose of the communications management plan is to be a reference for the two processes to follow, process 10.2 Manage Communications in the Executing Process Group and 10.3 Control Communications in the Monitoring & Controlling Process Group.

The next post will be on the next process 10.2 Manage Communications.

The Sufi Way–a talk at Common Ground

Fatima Imam, a professor of Indian history at Lake Forest college, gave an introductory lecture on Sufism for those members of the interfaith group Common Ground at their satellite “campus” in Flossmoor, Illinois on July 10, 2013.    This post is a summary of the main points of her talk. 

The popular definition of sufism is that it is a form of Islamic mysticism, but that then gets the question of what “mysticism is”.   If you define “mysticism” as the individual’s search for God (or Allah), then this is something that does not necessarily contradict the “outer garment” of the religion of Islam.    However, when you use the phrase the “experience of union with Allah”, then that presents some theological issues.

Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, are religions of relationship with God, not of identity with the divine principle as the religions of the East (Hinduism and Buddhism).   Thus mystics in Islam, as well as mystics in Christianity, have always skated on thin theological ice, because the experience of union with God seems to go against basic religious precepts.

And yet, the whole thrust of Sufism is experiencing God rather than just trying to pray to God.    The American psychologist William James once said, “religion is a defense against religious experience.”   What he meant was that a religion can be a set of concepts or ideas known to the mind, but a religious experience can involve one’s whole being, and can go beyond the mind.    It is this “beyond” of the direct experience of God that Sufis try to capture.

How do they do it?   Well, that’s where practices such as music, dancing, poetry, etc. come in that are considered “haram” or forbidden in more traditional forms of Islam.   They are ways of taking you beyond yourself as you know yourself, and thrusting you out beyond your usual comfort zone to experience God in some direct manner, beyond the reach of one’s familiar precepts or concepts.

Another Sufi tradition, beyond various spiritual practices that encourage the direct experience of God, is the tradition of having a teacher that can challenge you in your quest for that experience.

In reality, the entire religion of Islam, whose touchstone is the book of scripture called the Qur’an, started with a religious experience.   Mohammad would go into a remote cave and meditate, and meditate, and finally, he experienced the voice of the angel Gabriel telling him to “write”, what eventually became the first words of the Qur’an.   So the distinction between a direct religious experience and the reading of a spiritual text is something which came later; in the beginning of Islam these two were united the experience of Mohammed.

There were many questions from the audience, and I think Prof. Imam did a good job in explaining that, although it may be called “mysticism”, it still retains its Islamic character by using the Qur’an as its starting point.    I appreciated  her attempts to explain this enormously complicated and immensely varied tradition in the space of two short hours.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Chapter 10: Meetings

The last of the five tools & techniques listed for process 10.1 Plan Communication Meetings.

The PMBOK® Guide says that the project manager needs to have discussion and dialogue with the project team in order to

  1. Update and communicate project information, and
  2. Respond to requests from stakeholders for information

Meetings are often a great tool for accomplishing the above IF they are done in such a way to minimize the intrusion upon the participant’s time and therefore to make the most value out of the time they are giving up in order to attend the meeting.  For that reason, PMI recommends the following.

1.   Meetings should be for the purpose of resolving problems or for decision making ONLY

What PMI does NOT say is also important:   Meetings should not be used for obtaining the status on a project.   These “go around the room” type of meetings where each person reports on the status are a WASTE OF TIME and should be avoided.   How should status be reported?   Outside of the meeting, or preferably, in preparation for one.

2.  Meetings should have a defined list of issues to be addressed

The meetings should have a list of issues that is specific.   What PMI does not say is also important:   the meeting should STICK to those issues, and anybody who brings up discussion outside the defined list of issues should have their comments tabled for a future meeting.    Also, a certain amount of time should be alotted to each issue so that the meetings ENDS on time.   If the discussion is not completed on any issue, then this discussion should also be tabled for a future meeting.

3.  Meeting agenda should be distributed beforehand

This will allow for people to prepare for the meeting so that the discussion is fruitful.

4.  Meeting agenda should be distributed to stakeholders on an as-needed basis

Some stakeholders may receive the agenda who will not attend the meeting, because they are in the “consult” or “inform” category for any particular topic.   Anybody who is “responsible” or “accountable” for any particular topic should attend the meeting, and definitely needs to be given the agenda.

5.  Meeting minutes should follow the meeting

This gives a list of action items for people to follow up, and it is a convenient place to have them to refer to.  Also, if someone disagrees about the contents of the meeting, it is best to clear this up as soon as possible after the meeting while people’s memories are still fresh.

6.  For God’s Sake, Join Toastmasters

All right, this last one isn’t in the PMBOK® Guide, but I can tell as someone who has experience at Toastmasters that learning to run a Toastmasters meeting on time is the BEST training for running a corporate meeting on time.    It will show you how to  execute a meeting, and how to “monitor and control” it, to use project management language.  I have seen members of a meeting hijack the agenda with irrelevant questions, comments, etc., so many times, and it is during Toastmasters that I learned to be able to steer the meeting back in a diplomatic, but firm way.

7.  Conclusion

If the meetings are professionally run, they will be enjoyable to participate in, and not a form of punishment that should be proscribed by the Geneva convention.    The principles stated in the PMBOK® Guide are important but sometimes overlooked guidelines; the practice of them will make not just your meetings, but the entire project run more smoothly.



5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 10: Communication Methods

One of the tools & techniques of the process 10.1 Plan Communication Management is understanding communication methods you might use on a project.  The purpose of this post is to describe these three methods and give examples of the kinds of communication represented by each method.


  Type Explanation Examples
1. Interactive Between two or more parties; multidirectional exchange of information. Meetings, phone calls, instant messaging, video conferencing
2. Push Sending information from a central source to several recipients. Letters, memos, reports, faxes, voice mails, blogs, press releases
3. Pull Requires recipients to access information; used for very large volumes of information. Intranet sites, e-learning, lessons learned databases, knowledge repositories


The interactive method is what we usually think of as communication that is “live”:  it is “many-to-many” communication.  The push method is for “canned” communication that is sent from one person to several recipients:  it is “one-to-many” communication.  The pull method is for canned information that is not sent to several recipients; rather the recipients come and collect the information from the central source.  This is more for training and databases that might be helpful for a project.

For status reporting purposes, the push method is the best.  For general information, the pull method is the best.  For discussion, in particular regarding a decision that must be made, the interactive method is the best.

Why is this a tool & technique of the Plan Communication Management process?  Because the Communication Management Plan should specify which of the methods, and which of the communication forms listed under “examples” should be used.

Sacred Communication–A Workshop

Yesterday I participated in a workshop called Sacred Communication that was put on by Rev. Henrietta Byrd at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Park Forest, IL.   The purpose of this post is to describe the workshop in general, because  it has given me much pause for reflection since I participated in it yesterday.

1.  Introduction

Ironically, this is the week that I have been writing posts on Communication Management for my review of the Guide to the Project Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge, or PMBOK Guide for short.    The purpose of Sacred Communication was to show ways in which we can make our internal communication stronger and more authentic, so that we can then communicate with others in a more authentic way.

2.  Sacred Communication–Principles

As Henrietta Boyd explained the workshop, the ideas behind Sacred Communication are as follows:

  • You cannot have authentic communication with others unless you have authentic communication with yourself.
  • You cannot have authentic communication with yourself unless you separate those thoughts and emotions which come from your deepest aspirations, as opposed to those you have been conditioned to assuming by the environment in which you live.
  • The ethical basis with which you treat other people must be the same basis that you treat yourself.
  • Authentic communication comes from treating yourself with the ethical basis of compassion.
  • Compassion has two forms, yin and yang, or what we normally think of as normal compassion and what is commonly termed “tough love”.   The wisdom of knowing what form of compassion to use at what time is developed from experience.

3.  The Language of Spiritual Communication

Some of the people in the workshop came from an Eastern religious perspective, where everyone is imbued with the divine spark.    This is the first-person perspective of divinity, which is a religion of ultimate identity with the divine..    Others came from a Western religious perspective, where you can have a relationship with the divine, but the idea of identity with the divine is the ultimate heresy from that perspective.    This is the second-person perspective of divinity.  And then there were others in the workshop who were agnostic or atheist, where the principles of ethics derive from rational principles:   this can be seen as a third-person perspective of divinity, which doesn’t recognize the traditional idea of a deity at all.    This perspective is just as important in the history of our country as the second-person perspective in the form of Christianity.
Here’s a piece of evidence:   the original wording of the opening to the Declaration of Independence was “we hold these truths to be sacred.”    However, Benjamin Franklin suggested that “sacred” be changed to “self evident” so that those who do not believe in any particular deity could still be included as supporting the principles of the declaration.    So the workshop could have been called “Self Evident Communication” instead of “Sacred Communication.”    I think it is important in the interfaith movement to aware of the different “spiritual languages” of the world and to be able to understand that on the surface, they seem different, but they all have the same “deep structure” which leads to the same ethical precept of The Golden Rule, whether stated in the Bible, the Quran, or in the writings of Immanuel Kant.    
4.  Conclusion
The point of this workshop was, before we talk to others, we need to first know how to talk to ourselves to find the voice within that is the most authentic, which represents, in Abraham Lincoln’s phrase, the “better angels of our nature.”

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 10: Communication Models

1.  Introduction

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “All bad art is sincere.”  For the word “art”, let’s substitute the word “communication”:  “all bad communication is sincere.”  What does this epigram mean?  What is means is that, if by “sincere” you mean that “what is in your heart comes out of your mouth”, then bad communication is something which, although heartfelt,  somehow “loses translation” from the time it leaves your mouth to the time it gets to the other person’s ear, and into their heart (or mind).  In other words, sincerity is not enough; you have to have the skillful means of communication in order to make sure the message gets through to the hearer.  A communication model can be for communication what the Failure Mode and Effects Analysis does for design:  it is a way to pinpoint the various ways in which a communication can possibly go wrong, in order to make sure that you get it right.

2.  Communication Model

What are the five steps in a communication?  Here is a chart which summarizes them.



a. Encode The sender translates thoughts or ideas into language; this information is called the message.
b. Transmit Message The message is sent by the sender using the communication channel or medium.  The transmission of this message may be compromised by various factors referred to collectively as noise.
c. Decode The message is translated by the receiver back into meaningful thoughts or ideas.
d. Acknowledge The receiver may signal or acknowledge receipt of the message.
e. Feedback/ Response When the received message has been decoded and understood (step 3), the receiver translates thoughts or ideas into a message and transmits this message to the original sender.


3.  Discussion of Communication Steps

Here are some thoughts on the various steps in the communication process.  The idea is what can go wrong at each step, and how can you minimize the risk of such a communication failure?

a.  Encode

The simpler the message in terms of language and length, the easier it is to decode on the other end.  Many project managers like to use humor as a way to “break the ice” in communication and establish a rapport with the “audience”.  Since humor, especially a play on words, is often very language-specific, this is the kind of communication that risks being misunderstood.  I was at an international physics conference when I was at the University of Illinois, and one of the professors giving a talk started writing down the details of an equation, looked at the time and realized he didn’t have enough time to write them all down, and said to the audience, “well, the final result comes out in the wash.”  I knew that the phrase “in the wash” meant “after all of the mathematical calculations are done.”  However, this professor was then asked by a Russian colleague who was listening to his talk, “what means ‘the answer comes out in laundry’?”  He was thinking of “the wash” in a literal sense, and not in the metaphorical sense that the American physicist was speaking about.  Somehow, one of the Russian graduate students grasped this miscommunication, and started explaining to the professor in Russian what was meant.  The proverbial light bulb went off, and he smiled and said, “panimayu” (“I understand”).

b.  Transmit Message

What can cause the transmission or signal to be altered by noise?  It could be the distance itself, although nowadays error-correcting codes and algorithms try to reduce any possible noise that creeps into an electronic signal along the way.  More often, it is the cultural differences or lack of background information, that is, elements internal to the receiver and not external that cause the message to be distorted.  This is why cultural sensitivity is important as a project manager involved in an international project.

c.  Decode

Many times the decoding process can cause the original message to be lost because of emotional biases internal to the receiver.  If I say, “good afternoon, Jack!” and Jack responds, “What the hell do you mean by that remark?”, it’s probably a good bet that Jack is interpreting my (rather neutral) message based on either some event that has occurred earlier in the day or some other experience that is coloring my message in some way other than what I had intended.  Besides cultural sensitivity, therefore, it is important to add emotional intelligence to one’s repertoire of understanding as a project manager.  A more realistic example than the one I just gave is how one’s style of management can be interpreted differently by different people based on their own temperament.  If you are a “hands-on” manager who likes to give people specific direction, the phrase “do you need any help?”  may be welcomed by a new member of the team but may be resented by a “veteran” as interference, condescension, or in some way other than what was intended.  Likewise, a more “laissez-faire” attitude may be welcomed by a skilled team that has been through the mill on a similar project before, but may be considered “standoffish” by a person new to this kind of project who might appreciate some direction.  How do you know whether the decoded message is the same one you sent?  That is where the next two steps come in.

d.  Acknowledge

Acknowledging receipt of the message without indicating a reply may seem an unnecessary or even redundant step by some.  However, consider the word “hai” in Japanese.  It means “I understood what you said.”  It does not mean “I agreed with what you said.”  In taking a telephone message for another person, for example, it is sometimes helpful to repeat what the caller wants that person to do, so that if there any mistakes, they can be corrected right there and then.  This is because the context which the caller and the intended recipient may share could be unknown to you, and you may try to interpret the message in a way that makes sense to you, but which may alter the original intended meaning of the message.

e.  Feedback/Response

Actually, if you look at it carefully, the feedback/response actually mirrors steps c and b in that order.  First the reply is translated from thoughts into language (the return message or response), and then the response is transmitted back to the sender.  The reply may set off another round of communication, or it may not.  But the same principles apply in terms of encoding and transmitting the response that apply to the original message.

4.  Conclusion

Knowing the steps in the communication process can help you devise strategies to minimize the risk of a communication error.  These strategies should be encapsulated in one’s communication plan.  This is particularly important when communicating between countries, cultures, and languages.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 10: Communication Technology

1.  Introduction

As communication technology develops, more options become available to the project manager to spread information about the status of the project to the stakeholders that need it.   The purpose of this post is to discuss the factors one must consider when choosing communication technology for a project.

2.   Factors in Choosing Communication Technology

a.   Urgency of the need for information

Status reports are more routine; when a decision has to be made on a crucial change request, however, the stakeholders who are involved in that decision need to be given the information as soon as possible so that they can provide input into that decision.

b.  Availability of technology

The communication technology needs to be compatible throughout the organization so that all stakeholders have access to it.

c.  Ease of Use

Just because the stakeholders have access to the communication technology, does not mean that they have the technical knowledge to be able to use it.   Training must be considered for those who need to get up to speed–BEFORE that communication technology is needed.

d.  Project Environment

Are the stakeholders who need the information in the same building, or are they communicating virtually?    If they are communicating virtually, are they in the same time zone or does accomodation need to be made for those in different time zones?

e.  Sensitivity and confidentiality of the information

The communication needs to go to the stakeholders, but ONLY to the stakeholders.   Are there measures in place to prevent the accidental or even willful leaking of information outside the circle of stakeholders that need to be told?   Will encryption be needed, for example, if communicating with stakeholders outside the organization?   These are some of the questions that need to be considered.

This is why a communications plan includes discussion of the communication technology, because the factors mentioned above need to be considered so that the communication is both timely and targeted to the right people.

The next tool & technique of process 10.1 Plan Communication Management is that of Communication Models.   This is more abstract, theoretical framework within which to considered the communications on a project.   That will be the subject of the next post.

For Which It Stands: 10 Risks to the American Republic

1.  Introduction

On this 4th of July, I went to the hometown parade, had a picnic with the family, and will later on watch fireworks.  All of the standard elements of the holiday celebration are there; and yet I always try to take a little time out on this holiday to reflect about the words in the pledge of allegiance:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

 These words are said by those citing the Pledge of Allegiance, but when I repeat them as I do at the beginning of every Toastmasters meeting, it almost becomes a prayer asking God that our Republic continue to stand.  For there are certain risks to the Republic, and to the notion of our country being indivisible, with liberty and justice for all that make it a possibility that our country, this first product of the Enlightenment, may not survive, at least in recognizable form.

2.  Global Risk Report 2013–prototype for this post

The World Economic Forum puts out a Global Risk Report every year in which they rank certain risks in 5 different categories (technological, economic, geopolitical, societal, and technological) in terms of which are estimated to have the greatest impact and greatest likelihood over the next decade.

In a similar way, I decided to list risks which I feel threaten the form of government that we have today here in the United States.  I have listed the risks according to the category.


  Category Risk
1. Geopolitical Federal governance failure
2. Geopolitical Pervasive entrenched corruption
3. Environmental Failure of climate change adaptation
4. Environmental Land and waterway use mismanagement
5. Economic Chronic fiscal imbalances
6. Economic Chronic labor market imbalances
7. Societal Rising religious fanaticism
8. Societal Mismanagement of population ageing
9. Technological Cyber attacks
10. Technological Massive disinformation campaigns

Here’s an explanation of the risks.

1.  Federal Governance Failure

Since the minority party cannot by definition govern the country, they can either compromise with the majority party or try to magnify their power in a perverse way by being the “party of Nope”.  Filibusters and other tools that in normal political times prevent the minority from being run roughshod by the majority are now being used to stop the mechanism altogether, and appear to be a tool to run roughshod over the majority.  This has led to a paralysis of the government in both the Senate and the House.    Some of this paralysis is deliberate, so that rear-guard actions against individuals can be taken at the state level without interference from the federal government–that is the purpose behind the gutting of the Voting Rights Act decision recently by the Supreme Court.

2.  Pervasive entrenched corruption

The Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court went beyond the court giving corporations property rights, and gave them political rights as well.  This influx of political money several orders of magnitude larger than in previous elections has distorted the political process and made the impact of billionaire donors also several orders of magnitude greater.

3.  Failure of climate change adaptation

The strain on state governments to manage the infrastructure, that is increasingly stressed by a failure to adapt to climate change, means that many programs that help social stability are being crowded out and downsized.

4.  Land and waterway use mismanagement

The true environmental cost of fracking is not being considered when making the decision to proceed with this controversial method for obtaining shale oil and gas.  The benefits are considerable, but they will not accrue to the general public because this shale oil and gas is going to be sold overseas and will not appreciably affect the domestic supply.

5.  Chronic fiscal imbalances

The deficits in the long-term do appear to have a tendency to decrease, which is the good news.  For this reason, the stubbornness of economic theories that preach austerity measures during a recession has led to disastrous consequences in Europe.  We are unfortunately not learning the lesson here in the United States are hell-bent to copy those same self-injurious policies.

6.  Chronic labor market imbalances

Companies are reluctant to hire, but not because of any vague fears of “uncertainty” but rather the very real fear of lack of demand.  Until demand is somehow stimulated in the economy, unemployment will therefore remain high.  What little nascent demand there is in the economy could be strangled at birth by policies that try to cut unemployment benefits, and now even food stamp programs.

7.  Rising religious fanaticism

The recent bill in North Carolina designed to wipe out an imaginary threat to the Republic posed by Sharia Law has adopted some of the same religious fundamentalist language and tactics to impose some of the sweeping anti-abortion restrictions in the country.  These attempts to hijack our Republic by a theocratic mindset have grown increasingly bold over the past few years.

8.  Mismanagement of population aging

Companies who lay off people in their 50s and 60s disproportionately to the rest of the population do so because they view people as renewable resources—hey, just hire younger and cheaper ones.  The problem with this view is that the people who have been laid off now face discrimination in the workplace in being hired for a new position.  And what is the response from the solons in Washington?  To increase the retirement age so that these people will have an even harder time making it to that age at all, especially since health insurance is tied to being employed in this country.

9.  Cyber attacks

I’m talking here about the government’s attacking of the basic citizen’s rights guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment , and the toll it takes indirectly on their rights under the First Amendment of freedom of speech.  The Internet is a counterbalancing, decentralizing force in the flow of information, and for that reason the government seems determined to try to control it.  This reminds me of a saying from the game Alpha Centauri:  “Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.”

10.  Massive disinformation campaigns

Also known as “the mainstream media.”  One of the reasons why it is hard to have a political dialogue in this country is because the various factions who should be talking to each other are listening to sources of information that sometimes have no external validity, and so the debate cannot even start by an agreement on what the facts are.  The other mainstream myth is that of “centrism”, that the purpose of the press is to counter what one side says with what another side says, without doing an analysis of whether one side or the other has any factual merit to its claims and allegations.

These are risks which cause political extremism and make it more difficult for those who want to forge any sort of political compromise.    The last time political compromise broke down in this country we had a Civil War about 150 years ago; let us pray to God that we can control the forces that may lead us in a direction just as ruinous to the health of our Republic.

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).

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 10: Process 10.1 Plan Communication Management

1.  Introduction

The first out of three communications-related processes is a planning process, and it is used to develop the Communications Management Plan.  This post describes the inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs that belong to this process.

2.  Inputs

Inputs include the project management plan, in particular the management plans from other knowledge areas, and most importantly, the stakeholder register.  This will be updated during the process to include which stakeholder gets access to which information.  EEFs and OPAs, the company culture and the company’s previous experience with similar projects, respectively, are also considered inputs to the process.

1. Project Management Plan Provides information on how other management plans will be used to execute, monitor & control the project.
2. Stakeholder Register Provides information needed to plan the communication with project stakeholders.
3. EEFs The structure of an organization will have a major effect on the project’s communication requirements.
4. OPAs In particular, lessons learned and historical information from previous similar projects.
1. Communication Requirements Analysis Determines the information needs of the project stakeholders.  The requirements depend on the type and format of information as well as the value of that information.
2. Communication Technology Analysis of the factors which affect the choice of communication technology.
3. Communication Models Used to facilitate communications and the exchange of information.
4. Communication Methods Used to share information among project stakeholders.
5. Meetings Used to update and communicate project information, and to respond to requests from various project stakeholders.
1. Communications Management Plan Describes how communications will be planned, structured, monitored and controlled.
2. Project Documents Updates
  • Project schedule
  • Stakeholder Register

3.  Tools & Techniques

The analysis of the requirements shows which stakeholder gets access to which information.  That takes care of what will be communicated.  How that information will be communicated is determined by an analysis of the  methods and technology available to the project manager.  Communication models create a theoretical framework within which all of these other tools & techniques can be made to serve the needs of the project.

4.  Outputs

The output of Plan Communications Management is the Communications Management Plan, which becomes a guideline for the other two communications processes.  The stakeholder register will need to be updated with the results of the Communication Requirements Analysis, and the project schedule will need to be updated with the various meetings that are determined to be necessary in the course of the project.

I have left various vague descriptions of the tools & techniques of this process, but they all need to be elaborated because of their importance.  The next posts will discuss them in more detail.