A Communication Plan

Communication is the key element to successful management and leadership. There is nothing else more important. Let me illustrate:

“I’m running a project that changes the e-mail infrastructure for our organisation.”

That little sentence is loaded with assumptions and uses a language that is convenient for me and not for my audience. Let’s look at it in some detail:

  • Who knows what “e-mail infrastructure” means? –> IT technical minded people, geeks and nerds. In other words I’m talking a language that the people understand who are doing the job.
  • I’m using e-mail, says the salesman, what does it mean for me?
  • When is it happening?
  • What is actually changing?

You can easily see that list of questions will grow quite quickly. And those questions are fantastic. You need them to create a good communication plan.


  • raise awareness
  • identify hidden risks
  • move the adoption process along


  • what is the key message
  • which medium is best to deliver the information
  • who needs to hear it
  • how often do we need to repeat it

For my project I need to look at it from my customer’s perspective. For them email is the tool they use to send and receive email. In many cases this is Outlook or the web browser. My intention is to change the back end of email. That is which system sends emails from my customers to the intended recipients and receives incoming email and distributes those to the respective people. My wording needs to take this discrepancy into account. I decide to use the post office analogy.

“The project DuckMail will change our e-mail post office system. Your Outlook system will need to know what is changing. You can find out more … “

Questions and Concerns

The new announcement has a number of advantages compared to the first one. The project has a name and people can search the Intranet (or what information management system you have) for more information. It uses customer language and highlights a local change that makes everybody listen up. And finally it promises where or when to find out more.

The project team already has a list of stakeholders and customers. However, those information sessions might bring up some special cases that could have been forgotten. The team will also have some common questions and answers prepared. One great outcome of the sessions will be not yet voiced concerns that can impact the delivery, timing or adoption.

Compiling a complete list and adding the concern owner provides me with a key ingredient for my communication plan: the content and who to keep up to date. Then I will confirm with each owner the frequency and the method of keeping in touch. I may also delegate specific items to another team member.

Finally, I address the method to determine how successful my communication plan is. Is there anything the audience starts or stops doing? Are there specific milestone reviews where audience representatives take part?

What communication plan do you use?

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