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A project communications plan is something that puts communications on a particular project in writing so that everyone is “on the same page” — including the client. A good plan has several components, including the introduction, how information is going to be gathered and stored, what the distribution structures are going to be, and what the formal project communication matrix is going to be. The final part of the document is a sign-off page. When one becomes a junior project manager, helping to assemble project communications plans may be one of the junior project manager jobs are undertaken.

Parts of the project communications plan, explained

• The introduction

This is basically an overview of what the entire project communications will entail. In addition to a brief synopsis of the project itself, it should also include the names of people who are going to be working on the project and their titles as applicable, and it should also include the identity of the client (person or organization for whom the project is being completed). Junior project manager jobs’ descriptions may or may not involve having their names to be included in any particular project communications plan in this way.

• How will information be gathered and stored?

As the project goes on, of course, information, both formal and informal, will be gathered and shared among team members. It should also be stored for easy access by team members as necessary. Formal communications, for example, may include status meetings on a regular basis, and updates on the progress through regular status reports. This is also where any changes to project schedules because of ongoing issues will occur, and any risks inherent in the project will also be clarified here. Other communications on a more informal basis, such as email or phone communications will also be included here, and discussions as to how this information will be gathered, stored, and dispersed among team members will also be clarified.

• How will formal communication actually happen?

This is also known as the “distribution structure” in some reports, but basically, there will need to be a section in the project communications plan that details how formal committee cases will happen, and who among the team members will be part of them. Each type of formal communication, including specific types like status meetings or status reporting, project schedules, and so on, should also be discussed, as should the locations of shared distribution sites if any (places on the Internet or the company server, for example, where team members can go to post new information or access previous information about the project on an ongoing basis). This is one of the junior project manager jobs’ functions that are good learning experiences for junior project managers as they learn on the job to become senior project managers. Each specific type of communication is identified as to deliver the communications, who will receive them, and how (and how often) they’ll be delivered and reviewed.

• Formal communication matrix

This is a visual representation of the distribution structure so that members can see at a glance who’s doing what. The matrix includes each communication and its type, who originated the communication, who received the communication, the frequency at which the communication or meeting happens, and the source of the communication as it originated.

• Sign-off page

A formal signoff of the communications plan at its inception and completion sets the stage for expectations while before the project starts, and at its completion, with modifications (and signoff on those modifications) as necessary as the project goes along. In general, signing off on this type of project communications plan may not be among junior project manager jobs’ duties, but it’s still a good learning vehicle nonetheless.

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