Communications Planning

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Enterprise Performance Life Cycle (EPLC) is a framework to enhance Information Technology (IT) governance through rigorous application of sound investment and project management principles and industry's best practices. The EPLC provides the context for the governance process and describes interdependencies between its project management, investment management, and capital planning components. The EPLC framework establishes an environment in which HHS IT investments and projects consistently achieve successful outcomes that align with Department and Operating Division goals and objectives.

The Enterprise Performance Life Cycle (EPLC) has certain project management activities that are inherently required in every life cycle phase. One of those activities is ongoing communications to ensure all stakeholders are apprised appropriately.

The Communications Management Plan (CMP) is part of the Project Management Plan (PMP), which includes methods of communication between all of the concerned parties. Activities during the Concept and Planning Phases includes project management planning, the PMP and component plans such as the CMP. During the remaining phases of the EPLC the Communications elements of the PMP are reviewed and appropriately updated.

Effective communications is a key component of successful project management and delivery. It is often estimated that eighty percent of a Project Manager's job revolves around communications with the project team, client, and executive management. Without effective communications, vital information may not be exchanged effectively. A lack of communications may even delay or prohibit the execution or completion of scheduled tasks. Project success increases exponentially by avoiding communication issues.

The goal of communications management planning is to define the project's structure and methods of information collection, screening, formatting, and distribution. It also outlines an understanding among project teams regarding the actions and processes necessary to facilitate the critical links among people, ideas, and information that are necessary for project success. Effective communications planning and management helps ensure:

Most projects will require some form of internal and external communications regularly to sustain momentum on the project and to fulfill organizational reporting requirements. To effectively accomplish and manage this, a CMP should be developed.

A CMP is a platform for understanding between project participants; it documents the methods and activities needed to ensure timely and appropriate collection, generation, dissemination, storage, and ultimate disposition of project information among the project team and stakeholders. The CMP also defines which groups do not have access to certain information and what type of information will not be widely distributed.

The Project Management Institute's (PMI) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) defines a CMP as a document that describes: the communication needs and expectations for the project; how and in what format information will be communicated; when and where each communication will be made; and who is responsible for providing each type of communication. Key elements of a CMP include answers to the following types of questions:

The CMP documents a consistent method for communications and the management of that communication throughout the project's life and should be developed in coordination with, and be accessible to, all project team members and stakeholders.

Developing the Communications Management Plan
The process of developing a CMP is primarily concerned with the actions necessary to define, integrate, and coordinate all project communications and communication methods into a single management planning document. The CMP is usually drafted by the project manager, reviewed by the project team, and approved by the project sponsor.

A good CMP is not necessarily lengthy. A CMP can be very short and still have great value. The content of the CMP will vary depending upon the complexity of the project. The size of and time invested to develop a CMP should be balanced with the size and complexity of the project. Large, more complex projects justify a significant effort in developing a comprehensive CMP and may even justify the creation of separate subsidiary communications plans for some sections of the CMP. If this were the case, the subsidiary plan would be referenced in the appropriate section of the CMP.

When developing the CMP it is important to consider all obvious and not so obvious audiences to ensure quick and effective communications with internal and external stakeholders. The CMP should address the following:

Best Practices

Practice Activities