For every IT project plan, there should be an included communication plan.
Communication is a crucial piece to the overall implementation and ultimate success of your IT project.
According to InfoTech Research Group, an effective communication plan will have 4 elements.
An effective IT communication plan helps:
When I sit down to draft the communication plan, I first consider the audience or the people who will be impacted.
These are typically:
When it comes to crafting the messages themselves, I focus on the 5Ws.
The timing of the messages can be delivered on an ongoing basis like in the case with a long-term project or with quick targeted messages as needed.
Considering the opportunities to get in front of our intended audience, review key dates for in-person presentation opportunities such as all-staff meetings, senior team meetings, and board meetings, as well as other communication opportunities like e-newsletter delivery dates.
An email or a simple announcement on a web page or collaboration board can also be used, when appropriate or needed for timing.
Lastly, given the message, you need to deliver to the intended audience and the best timing of when to deliver it, then you can find the best communication delivery opportunity.
Who do you need to tell what, when, and in what format?
That question leads to a 4-column spreadsheet that makes a fine template for a communication plan.
For example, if you are working on a software implementation or other IT project that already been selected and funded, you can create the communication plan as the project plan is being finalized.
First, factor in regular status updates with key stakeholders such as weekly meetings with the project team, periodic updates for the senior management team, and maybe one or two updates for the board.
Look for the natural project milestones that should trigger a status update to be shared. Depending on the cadence and culture of the association, these updates can take place at regularly scheduled meetings.
Then as the project nears completion, you might anticipate a flurry of project-related announcements. Communications should be delivered in short, clear messages.
These messages may involve a wider audience of folks, including your members and customers. You will need to coordinate with the marketing and communication team to reach those external audiences.
These time-sensitive messages might be included in the weekly e-newsletter, a standalone broadcast email, or as messages posted to the association’s homepage.
Most people are uncomfortable with change at some level. Feeling left out of understanding what is happening is stressful and can create unnecessary obstacles to a project’s success.
The goal of a well-crafted communication plan is to let people feel informed about upcoming changes and how and when they may impact them.
Keeping everyone up-to-speed also has the added benefit of allowing them to feel they are a part of the project, and therefore a part of its success.