6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 10.3 Monitor Communications: Tools and Techniques


Like monitoring and controlling processes for other knowledge areas, the tools and techniques used in the communications management knowledge area contain a mixture of what I call “generic” tools and techniques, that is, those used in most of the knowledge areas, and those that are specific to this knowledge area.    Expert judgment, meetings, and the Project Management Information System (software program like Microsoft Project) are examples of generic tools and techniques that are used in many other knowledge areas as well.   Those that are specifically geared towards this knowledge area are the Data Representation technique of the Stakeholder Engagement Matrix and Interpersonal and Team Skills in responding to requests from stakeholders for additional information.

As a reminder, although the title of the process says “monitor communications”, meaning monitoring the actual communications and comparing to what is in the communications plan, there is also a “controlling” component where any variance with the plan is addressed, either by

  • changing the actual communications to fit the plan, or if the original communications plan is seen to be unrealistic and/or stakeholders suddenly have revised requirements for communications,
  • changing the communications plan itself.

10.3.2  Monitor Communications:  Tools and Techniques

10.3.2.1  Expert Judgment

When making decisions about communications, the experts you may need to consult are those with expertise in

  • communications, particularly in special environments like international or virtual environments.
  • Project management systems and their communications requirements

10.3.2.2  Project Management Information System

This is a set of standard software tools, like Microsoft Project, that can help capture, store, and disseminate information to team members, internal and external stakeholders.   In the course of this process, the information contained in the PMIS system will be monitored for validity and effectiveness.

10.3.2.3 Data Representation

The stakeholder engagement assessment matrix is an output of process 13.2 Plan Stakeholder Engagement.   It charts the current engagement level for each stakeholder and the desired (or planned) stakeholder engagement level, and is useful for monitoring the progress in moving between the current and desired level.

10.3.2.4 Interpersonal and Team Skills

There are two sources for information related to this process of monitoring and controlling communications.

  • Dialogue and conversation with the project team to determine the most appropriate way to update and communicate project performance (the validity of the information).
  • Responding to requests from stakeholders (the effectiveness of the information).

10.3.2.5 Meetings

This can include both face-to-face and virtual meetings.   Remember the ground rules of meetings that are discussed in my previous post:

https://4squareviews.com/2018/07/04/6th-edition-pmbok-guide-process-10-2-manage-communications-tools-and-techniques/

You may want to monitor and control how your meetings are going as a central part of this process, because how you handle meetings will be a large part of handling communications as a whole.   Remember that a meeting is a tip of the iceberg; before each meeting you need to communicate its scope (the purpose), its schedule (agenda) and cost in terms of time (strict starting and ending time).   After each meeting you need to communicate the results to stakeholders.   My personal preference is a two-track approach where you give an “executive summary” for those stakeholders who are either too busy or not engaged enough to follow the details, followed by a more detailed set of information for those that want to dive into the details.    I use a “60-second rule” I got from my first boss when I worked in New York, which basically states that it should take no longer than 60 seconds for someone to read and digest the executive summary.   Sometimes a dashboard or other visual device is helpful in conveying information in a concise way that telegraphs the status of the project.    Also helpful is an indication of whom to contact for additional information, and most importantly, if there is a response requested (I would underline or otherwise highlight this in the executive summary in order to draw attention of those you are asking to respond).

With these tools and techniques, you can monitor the communications and decide if any changes are needed.   This will result in a change request, and/or updates to the project management plan and project documents.   These outputs of the process will be discussed in the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

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