6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 10.2 Manage Communications: Inputs

I’ve taken a week-long vacation from blogging because I was in the midst of a move, and I’m sure you can appreciate that handling the details of a move from one town to another is a full-time project in and of itself.

But I’m back now and continuing where I left off, going through all of the 49 processes in the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide.   This post starts with the inputs for process 10.2 Manage Communications.    This is one of the most important processes, because I’ve heard from several expert project managers that 90% of all the issues you will face as a project manager have to do ultimately with communications, even if on the surface they may deal with one of the other knowledge areas.

Now let me say a word about the placement of the process within the matrix of the 49 project management processes as seen on p. 556 of the PMBOK® Guide.   There are processes in all of the knowledge areas under the executing process group except for the three basic constraints of scope, schedule (time) and cost.   This is because the work of executing those three knowledge areas falls into the general process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work listed under the Project Integration Management knowledge area.  All of the other knowledge areas, including Communications Management, have a process that is in the executing process group.   The title may contain a different word such as Manage, Implement or Conduct, but it’s all having to do with executing the management plan done in the planning process for that knowledge area.

In the case of Communications, process 4.2 Manage Communications carries out the communications that were planned out in process 4.1 Plan Communications Management whose main output was the Communications Management Plan.

Now let’s look into the inputs of the process 4.2 Manage Communications.

10.2.1 Manage Communications Plan Project Management Plan

Remember, the project management plan is really not a single plan, but a collection of

  • plans from all of the knowledge areas
  • some additional supporting plans (change management, configuration management, and requirements management)
  • performance baselines for the three basic constraints of scope, schedule (time) and cost
  • supporting documents (such as issue log, change log, risk register, stakeholder register)

Out of those components, the following three are the main inputs to this process.

  • Communications management plan–the output of process 10.1 Plan Communications Management, it gives guidelines on all the processes in communications management, whether it deals with planning, managing, or monitoring/controlling the communications on a project.   The components of the Communications management plan include the following (this is a simplified version of the list on p. 377 of the PMBOK® Guide.
    • Stakeholder communication requirements
    • Information to be communicated, reason for the distribution, person responsible for communicating the information, time-frame and frequency of distribution, methods and technologies used to convey the information, persons or groups who receive the information, flow charts of the information flow in the project, including sequence of authorization
    • Special handling procedures:   escalation process and process for releasing confidential information
    • Resources allocated for communication activities (in terms of budget and schedule)
    • Guidelines and templates for project status meetings, team meetings and virtual meetings (agenda, minutes template, etc.), report formats, templates for e-mail messages
    • Constraints derived from legislation or regulation, organizational policies
    • Method for updating and refining the communications management plan
  • Resource management plan–recall that “resources” in the 6th Edition PMBOK® Guide refers to not only physical resources but human resources as well.   Therefore the resource management plan (the output of process 9.1 Plan Resource Management), if it includes guidelines on communications with any of the team resources, can also be an input to this process.
  • Stakeholder engagement plan–an output of process 13.2 Plan Stakeholder Engagement, this describes the current engagement level (do they know about the project?  And if so, how supportive are they of the project?) and the desired engagement level you would like the stakeholders to be at during the course of the project.   This will input the frequency and type of communications you will be sending the stakeholders and so it is an important input to the process. Project Documents

Many of the important events going on during the project are recorded in some of the project documents, and as such, they will be important inputs into managing the communications regarding those events.

  • Change log–the output of process 4.6 Perform Integrated Change Management, this records both the changes that were accepted and will be implemented on the project, as well as those that were rejected.    Those stakeholders that are impacted by the change will be communicated to during the course of this process.
  • Issue log–a risk is a potential problem or opportunity, and will be listed on the risk register, but if a negative risk becomes actualized, it becomes not a potential problem, but a real problem, and is put on the issue log.   Those stakeholders that are impacted by the issue and its resolution will be communicated to during the course of this process.
  • Lessons learned register–in regards to communications, any lessons learned about the management of communications during the course of this process will be recorded in the lessons learned register (the output of process 4.4 Manage Project Knowledge) so that they can be applied during the remainder of the project.
  • Quality report–the quality report, an output of process 8.2 Manage Quality, includes the following information which may need to be communicated to stakeholders who may be concerned with or affected by any corrective actions:
    • Quality issues
    • Product/project improvements (from Quality Control)
    • Process improvements (from Quality Assurance)
  • Risk report–an output of process 11.2 (Identify Risks), this presents information on the following which should be communicated to risk owners and other impacted stakeholders:
    • Source of overall product risk
    • Summary information on identified individual project risks
  • Stakeholder register–an output of process 13.1 Identify Stakeholders, this is a crucial input for this process, as it identifies the individuals and groups that will need various types of information. Work Performance Reports.

First of all recall the information hierarchy when it comes to projects.

  • Work performance data shows the actual results that were generated in the recent reporting period.   John worked 10 hours on the project and Mary worked 10 hours as well.
  • Work performance information is the result of taking the work performance data (showing the actual results) with the project management plan to see if there is a variance in what was actually done versus what was planned to be done.   Work performance information is shared with members of the project team.
  • Work performance reports are the result of taking the work performance information, which indicates if there is a variance between the actual results and the planned work, and analyzing the variances found to find their source and, if possible, suggest a corrective or preventive action.   Work performance reports are shared with concerned stakeholders, and that is why they are inputs to this communications process.   Examples of work performance reports that may be communicated to stakeholders include the following:
    • Earned value analysis (showing current project performance)
    • Trend lines and graphs (showing future project performance if current project performance is continued)
    • Reserve burndown charts (for contingency reserves associated with implementation of risk responses for triggered risks–see “risk summaries” below)
    • Defect histograms (showing the quantity of defects per category and thus identifying those defects that occur with the most frequency)
    • Contract performance information (showing scope completion and/or quality requirements fulfillment for those vendors who provide procurements to the project in the form of material, components, or possibly even contract workers for the project)
    • Risk summaries (showing which identified risks were triggered and those that can be considered no longer in effect because they are associated with activities that have been completed without incident)

The work performance reports may take many reports such as dashboards, heat reports (showing red for current variance, yellow for potential future variance, and green for no variance), etc. Enterprise Environmental Factors

  • Personnel administration policies, especially those that are based on regulations or legal requirements
  • Organizational culture and governance framework
  • Communication trends and/or practices
  • Stakeholder risk thresholds Organization Process Assets

  • Corporate policies and procedures for social media
  • Corporate policies and procedures with respect to issue, risk, change, and data management
  • Organizational communication requirements
  • Standardized guidelines for exchange, storage, and retrieval of information
  • Historical information from previous similar projects, including the lessons learned repository.

The next post will cover the actual tools and techniques used in this process.



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