Project Stakeholder Communication
Project Stakeholder Communications
Stakeholder communications are the means and methods used to communicate about the project with stakeholders. These will typically be documented in a Stakeholder Communications Plan.
Clear, timely and unambiguous communications:
- distribute needed information about the project and project issues
- keep all interested parties informed of progress
- involve the right parties at the right time (e.g. for decision making)
- ensure that all parties are aware of anything ‘abnormal’ (an unexpected problem or challenge, a major change in circumstance)
- clarify areas of concern
- ensure that any consultations necessary are flagged and arranged
- help to resolve potential disputes and to manage shareholder expectations
- help to establish strong working relationships between key parties for the project
- tailor the communication to the audience (e.g. appropriate content, delivered appropriately and relevant to the other party’s needs and interests).
Excellent communications by the Project Manager and project team helps to shape and drive ‘the narrative’. It means being proactive—not responding passively to what happens on the project that is raised by another party, but anticipating it and raising it first. Good communications provide stakeholders with transparency, and give parties such as investors confidence that the project management is ‘on the ball’.
Some forms of Project stakeholder communication
Stakeholder communications include:
- regular updates on pertinent project issues (via email, letter, and newsletters etc.)
- meetings of all types, from Board and Steering Committee meetings, down to meetings on the job
- formal presentations (e.g. about some new development, or a key milestone reached) to which all interested parties are invited
- progress reports
- press releases (for print and television).
Some communications with stakeholders may need to be in confidence for a range of reasons. The information exchanged may be commercially or politically sensitive. An effective communications policy will ensure that confidential information is exchanged appropriately, and that its confidentiality is subsequently protected (e.g. stored in a safe or accessed by certain people only).
Stakeholder communications will occur throughout the project. Depending on the stage of the project, or who the communications are designed for, their purposes may differ. For example:
- during the initiation phase of the project, some communications may be to help to secure funding or sponsorship for the project
- during the implementation phase, certain communications may be framed around resolving particular project problems and/or managing stakeholder expectations in relation to scope change
- in the closing phase, communications may focus on the project launch, or on generating publicity for the project.
Finally, stakeholder communications is a two-way street. It is about listening as much as it is about talking.
For more information about creating a Stakeholder Communications Plan, please visit; http://www.ors.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/148497/Creating_a_Stakeholders_Communications_Plan.pdf