Programme and project management communication

Effective communication is at the heart of successful business change. Programmes and projects must incorporate a clear approach to communication which is strongly linked to their engagement with stakeholders.

What is communication management?

Communications management plans the communication between the project team and stakeholders.

A communications strategy should be produced which shows how information will be disseminated to, and received from, all stakeholders involved in the change (programme or project).

It identifies the content and frequency of communication between the different parties. It is used to establish and manage on-going communications throughout a programme or project.  

Purpose of a communications strategy

An effective communications strategy will provide satisfactory answers to these questions:

  • has the information given to stakeholders met their requirements?
  • has the information received from stakeholders met the programme or project owner's requirements?
  • has all the necessary information been disseminated?
  • have the roles and responsibilities of the individuals involved in the communication strategy been understood by them?
  • have these roles been carried out satisfactorily?

Suggested areas to cover in a communications strategy are the:

  • information requirements - list the stakeholders and their information needs
  • communications mechanisms - the methods to be used such as written reports, seminars, workshops, videos, emails, newsletters, social media accounts
  • information elements - the key information to be distributed by the different mechanisms, including frequency and information collection and collation
  • roles and responsibilities of the key individuals to ensure communication is adequate, appropriate and timely
  • need to handle unexpected communication - how unexpected information from other parties (including stakeholders) will be handled within the scope of the activity

Roles and responsibilities

The main communications responsibilities for each of the key players within a programme or project environment are illustrated below. These are strongly linked to the needs and expectations of the various stakeholder groups affected by the change process.

  • Senior Responsible Owner - take a strong lead at communications events; engage key stakeholders and maintain effective communications links with particular focus on communicating key milestones to senior stakeholders
  • Programme or Project Sponsor - visible participation at communications events; taking the lead in stakeholder communication in their particular areas and close communication with the SRO on wider stakeholder issues and the wider business environment
  • Programme Board or Project Board - approve and review programme or project communications plan, taking ownership of stakeholder communications in their own particular areas
  • Programme Manager or Project Manager - develop and implement a programme or project communications strategy; in a programme, control and align communications across the projects - much of the day-to-day communications with stakeholders will be done via the programme or project manager
  • Business Change Manager - strong communication with the programme or project manager during the transition to business as usual operation; communication with stakeholders being affected by the changes - also take the lead on key communications into their own business area
  • Programme or Project Office - maintaining stakeholder and communications information and facilitating and supporting communications activities

Resources and guidance

There are many good sources of programme and project communications best practice, including:

These sources provide information on the content of a communication strategy which should be developed in conjunction with an approach to stakeholder engagement.

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