Managing Project Communciation Using PRINCE2® – Part 1 of 3

PRINCE2 has a great approach to managing project communication across the life cycle.  It is critical that the project manager establish controlled and bi-directional information flow to engage and inform project stakeholders.   Your focus should be on ensuring that the project remains viable against its business case, produces the required products, and is carried out according to plan.  The PRINCE2 communication management cycle can be implemented using four iterative steps:  Plan-Execute-Monitor-Improve

Communication planning ensures that all stakeholders are identified and engaged with a project throughout the project life cycle.  The time, effort and resources required to perform these planned communication activities will be part of the project, stage and team plans where those activities are carried out. 

It is essential to identify and analyze key project stakeholders to determine their information needs.   These stakeholders are the individuals or groups who are not part of the project management team but need to interact with the project or are affected by that project’s outcome.   Effective communication takes more than a strategy; it requires stakeholder involvement and interest in the project and its results. PRINCE2 recommends a six step process to engage your project stakeholders:

  1. (Who?) Identify stakeholders who are involved in and/or affected by the project outcome
  2. (What?) Create and analyze stakeholder profiles to understand what their influence, interest and attitudes are relative to the project
  3. (How?) Define a stakeholder engagement strategy focusing on project communications, agreeing on the information requirements of each interested party
  4. (When?) Define the communication methods and timings of project communications, and decide who the senders and recipients are for each specific communicated item.
  5. (Do) Engage stakeholders by carryout out what you have planned 
  6. (Results) Measure the effectiveness of your communication activities and channels for the project

The Communication Management Strategy defines the means and frequency of communication with both internal and external project stakeholders.   The Project Manager creates and documents this strategy, and reviews and updates the strategy at stage boundaries to make sure it still encompasses all key project stakeholders.  If your project is part of a program, there will need to be consistency between the strategy at the project level and any communication requirements at the program level.

Project Assurance is responsible for ensuring that the Communication Management Strategy is appropriate and that planned communication activities actually take place on a project.  Communication products, processes and outcomes shall be monitored to the degree necessary to ensure that the stakeholder and project team communication requirements are met.   

The Project Manager is responsible for reviewing and updating the Communications Management Strategy at stage boundaries to make certain key stakeholders are engaged and that the strategy is indeed working effectively.     Anyone with a comment or concern about project communications should open an issue in the Issue Register to bring their information and perspective to the Project Manager’s attention. 

Part 2 of this 3 part series will take a closer look at executing this communciations strategy on our projects.  Stay tuned…

Remember, a copy of the PRINCE2 method is required reference material in any project manager’s bookshelf!  The method is documented in the OGC publication Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2” which is officially published by TSO.  Serious project managers seeking to enhance their knowledge, skills and professional credibility target should consider PRINCE2 certification.  Learning Tree offers two excellent certification courses for folks interested in becoming a Certified Practitioner of PRINCE2 or simply starting with the Foundation Certification.    

Susan Weese

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