The Importance of a Good Communications Plan

Although there are many types of formal plans as part of a project I consider none more valuable than a formalized communication plan.  In general communication is often taken for granted.  Outside of the tech industry users generally don’t consider the effort required to create communication channels anymore than they consider the amount of chicken feed required to produce a dozen eggs.  

A formalized communication plan benefits stakeholders by creating reducing uncertainty in the overall planning phase.  Often times when establishing a project at work the planning phase involves a lot of ad-hoc communications instances.  This creates uncertainty among stakeholders and increases the project’s risk by having stakeholders unable to receive or transmit information that would demonstrate truthfully the status of the project.  

The same pattern was evidenced in our group for this class.  Much of our time early on was spent deciding the best way to communicate as a group going forward.  Other than email there was no common platform amongst the group members.  So we had difficulty getting each person into a google hangouts group that would allow us to send texts and video chat for free.  Some students had multiple email addresses.  The ones associated with their UMUC account weren’t monitored regularly.  UMUC’s communication tools don’t include features that allow them to send notifications to portable devices and were regularly discarded as being dated and ineffective by the group.

To prepare going forward I’ll be making youtube videos demonstrating communications best practices for the groups I’ll be working with in my next class.  These video topics will include introduction to Google’s document production suite to reduce uncertainty and overall inefficiency within the first few weeks of class.  This video version of a communication plan may cause a few problems for students who have moral objections to using Google’s tools or have limited access to devices that facilitate the technology.

In general I believe the communication plan is the most important of all the plans to establish early on, because it truly gives stakeholders the ability to share the information available to them.  At work we are currently struggling to flatten our communication plans for projects.  Despite receiving training that encourages flattening, our established communication plan and rigid hierarchy limits our ability to innovate.  This struggle only serves to illustrate that whatever plan is created (communication or otherwise) it will need to work within the organization’s culture and operational practices.