How to Write a Communication Management Plan (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A communication management plan establishes best practices for sharing important information among team members and other collaborators. Improving communication can increase the efficiency of teams, shorten project completion time and reduce the levels of interpersonal friction sometimes caused by miscommunication. If you're a project manager or leader, learning how to create a plan for managing communication can improve your team's efficiency. In this article, we discuss what a communication management strategy is, provide steps for creating one and offer tips to make it effective.

Related: 4 Types of Communication (With Examples)

What's a communication management plan?

A communication management plan is a document that contains guidelines for how team members can communicate with each other most effectively. It also defines who receives the communication, plus when and how often they can expect to receive information. The simplicity of a communication plan may vary according to the size of the organisation and the number of collaborators who have a vested interest in the organisation or one of its projects. An effective communication plan typically includes:

  • Purpose or goals of the plan

  • Information about those involved and their roles

  • Types of information for sharing

  • Methods of communication

  • Preferred frequency for receiving information

Related: The Main Components of the Communication Process

How to create a communication management plan

A communication management strategy can apply to the day-to-day communication within a team or a temporary plan that applies to a specific project. A general plan may include all the employees of an organisation or focus on a department within the organisation. Whether you're creating a long-term plan or a short-term project plan, consider following these steps:

1. List your team's communication needs

As each team and project is unique, you can start by establishing the size of the project or team, as this can influence the complexity of the communication plan. Consider what kind of work the project involves and what type of information is for sharing. For example, if many of the team members work on a building site, a collaboration app that includes instant messaging may be more suitable than a plan that makes use of email as the primary communication platform. For project communication plans, you may consider the client's communication preferences. Some technological options include:

  • Group chat software

  • Email programs

  • Project management tools

  • Text messaging platforms

  • Word processing software

Related: What Is Communication in Project Management? (Plus Benefits)

2. Establish the purpose of communications

As you plan, you can consider the purpose of communications. Aligning those purposes with the communication method you choose can help bring a balance between under-communicating and over-communicating. Under-communicating can cause team members not to get important information. Over-communicating can impact productivity through too many meetings or missing important updates in between too many emails. For example, a shared project discussion board may be more effective than a weekly email summary.

3. Choose a communication method

The method you choose for managing communication works best when it's easily accessible to the entire team for feedback and references. As part of this step, decide which information to include, such as progress updates, file sharing, data, meeting notes or team discussions. Establishing information types and categorising them provides clarity for the team.

When selecting communication methods, consider factors such as the urgency of the information, whether current technology supports the chosen method, the capabilities of employees and if the environment of the organisation is virtual or local. Communication methods can include:

  • Weekly check-ins

  • Meetings either in person, through videoconferencing or over the phone

  • Meeting summaries

  • Status reports

  • Formal presentations

  • Surveys

  • To-do lists

  • Project dashboards

  • Collaboration apps

Related: How to Run a Virtual Meeting: A Step-By-Step Guide

4. Determine the frequency of communication

Establishing a regular frequency of communication internally and with external collaborators can streamline the process. Setting clear expectations from the start can help prevent unplanned status update requests. Pre-planning meetings or report-back sessions enable team members to set time aside for them.

5. Determine communication roles within the team

Identifying the owner and interested party related to each communication creates accountability. Defining the specific role of each team member, including their responsibilities, reasons for communicating with them and their chosen form of communication, can create direct channels that cut down on wasted time. For example, you might have a team member who answers customer enquiry emails. As this information is available in the communication plan, team members know who to forward such emails to without having to spend time finding out. Roles in your plan may include:

  • Customers and clients: Including guidelines for communicating with customers provides clarity for which roles may do so. For example, a content writer may have a question for the supervisor regarding a product they're writing web content for.

  • Key collaborators: Covering those who have a role within the company but don't fit into any predefined roles and aren't directly involved with a project or department. For example, a senior manager interested in a project's progress may not be working on the job themselves.

  • Information technology (IT) support: Including information on communicating with the IT support staff is helpful for team members who need IT assistance. Referring to the plan can help them contact the right person for the issue they experience.

  • Other team members: Considering which team members to include in a communication plan can vary depending on the department or project the plan exists for. Other examples of roles that may feature in a communication plan include marketing specialists, salespeople, writers, customer support, software developers, data analysts or graphic designers.

Related: What Is a Stakeholder? (Plus Their Importance and Types)

6. Add additional details

Consider including additional details in your communication plan to provide further clarity for existing team members and any new employees who may join the team later. You may include information such as:

Guidelines for managing sensitive information

Including details on how to manage confidential or sensitive information can help ensure that it's only available to those who have access. You can include specific details of the type of security measures in place to protect the information, such as encryption, passwords or bio-identification. Clearly outlining these details helps ensure the information stays confidential.

Related: What Is Encryption? How It Works and Where It's Used

Standards and format for communications

Setting standard formats for communications creates cohesive clarity for all team members. For example, using standard formatting for all daily to-do lists can reduce confusion, particularly for new employees or team members. To achieve this, consider providing templates and examples for each type of communication format.

Process for making changes

Instructions for future changes to the communication plan can be useful to include. You can specify which role is responsible for making the changes, the process for team members to communicate changes to collaborators and a timeline guide for implementing any changes to the plan.

7. Put your plan into action

Once you complete a communication plan, you can distribute it to your team and pertinent external collaborators. As the plan gains momentum, the team may experience its benefits, such as receiving regular updates that drive the momentum of the project. You may find productivity levels increase as each team member faces fewer interruptions and a greater ability to plan how they use their working time.

Tips for creating a communication management strategy

When creating your plan for managing communication, consider these tips to make it effective:

Don't get caught up in too much detail

As you create your communication plan, aim to keep it as simple as possible. Aim to be precise and purposeful in all your communication and keep the focus on core ideas. Consider communicating with enough details to bring clarity, but not so many fine details that the recipient feels overwhelmed and stops reading.

Aim to standardise the process

Not all team members may see the benefit of a communications plan or immediately adopt and use it. Over time, as it becomes a standard business practice to incorporate managed communication, the benefits may become more obvious. Projects may run more smoothly, generate less stress and be easier to finish by the deadline. As the benefits become more apparent, the practice can become part of an organisation's standard operating procedure.

Update your plan as change occurs

Consider reviewing your plan regularly to make adjustments for any changes to the team, project or organisation. Changes can include the addition of new team members or any changes in roles and responsibilities. Project-related changes might include the addition of collaborators or any deadline changes.

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