Project Communications Planning: Deliverables

Project Communications Planning: Deliverables

It occurs to me that after my waxing philosophical and getting all academic about communication planning, some of you might want to know what deliverables you might actually have to come up with. Fair enough, but be careful what you wish for… it can be a lot of stuff, if you go whole-hog with it.

Which of the following items you use depends on theneeds of your project and the standards of your organization; likewise, their precise form. Here we go:

Setup Deliverables:

  • Project charter: The document that defines the limits of the product—scope, timing, budget, etc.—at a middling-to-high level.
  • Project budget: How much you’re going to spend, on what, when, and the total thereof.
  • Project plan: Your detailed task list and timeline, possibly accompanied by a work breakdown structure diagram.
  • Project resource plan: Your team roster, also including the resource managers of those on your team.

Reporting Deliverables:

  • Weekly status report: Shows if the project is green (just fine), yellow (having temporary troubles), or red (in serious jeopardy, probably in need of executive intervention). Provides detail on accomplishments and troubles. Shows at what point the project is in the life cycle.
  • Monthly status report: Like the weekly, but with less detail; intended for executives. You might try to create a scorecard for this report, with metrics, targets and variances.
  • One-off reports/presentations: These are usually used to explain why the project is in yellow or red status.

Logs:

  • Risk log: Identifies risks, how likely they are to occur, what impact they’d have if they did occur and what the mitigation plan is.
  • Issues log: If an identified or unidentified risk comes to fruition, it becomes an issue. This log identifies the issues, their impacts, their owners, plans to resolve them, and the status of those plans.
  • Action items log: Identifies tasks to be accomplished in the near future, who is responsible for completion, and the status. This can be used as a supplement to the project plan or as a record for tasks that are too small or too rapid to fit sensibly into the project plan. If you are very clever, you will think of a way to cross-reference between items on the AI log and items in the project plan.

Meetings:

  • Meeting schedule: Simply a list of meetings for the project and when they’ll occur. Includes recurring meetings and gets updated with one-offs. You might use a calendar management application like Microsoft Outlook for this.
  • Meeting agendas: A full-blown agenda states when and where the meeting is, who should be there, what the overall topic is, what the goal is, and the topics to be discussed, in order. You won’t always need a list of topics; sometimes something like “discuss router disaster and resolution” is all you need.
  • Meeting minutes: Minutes record when and where the meeting was, who attended (as opposed to who should have been there), the overall topic, highlights of the discussion (including action items completed), conclusions reached, new issues uncovered and action items assigned.

Informal Communications:

(These aren’t exactly deliverables, but they’re still important!)

  • Email: All those quick messages novel-length threads are a major part of the oil that makes a project go smoothly. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want on the front page the next day. File emails logically for easy retrieval. Keep everything; you never know when you’ll have to show why a decision was made or that so-and-so did, indeed, promise to deliver by November 2nd.
  • Conversations: Like email, conversations on the phone or in the hallway, grease the skids of your project. While they are great for exchanging information, avoid making any commitments during an informal conversation—save that for a more formal setting. And if you’re talking to the client, be discrete; tell them what they need to know, but don’t lift up the sheets of your operation. Some clients will use extra info about your operations to squeeze you, or to go around you, or in other unhappy ways.

Balance:

Eighty to ninety percent of your job as a project manager is communication, so it can be easy to go overboard. Work on striking the balance between too little and too much information.

Note: Writing this blog is a learning exercise for me, as much as anything else. In researching this post, I learned a lot from www.my-project-management-expert.com. Many thanks to them.

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