None of the projects can prosper without prior knowledge on how the problems of the adjacent society will be solved by the proposed project. The effects that projects are likely to bring to the society enable people to develop perceptions, which affect the acceptance of the project within the society. The success of the project is determined by the stakeholders’ perceptions. Therefore, communication plan is crucial in every project implementation. Communication plan facilitates exchange of information between all stakeholders in the process of project development (Ferguson, 1999). The channels of communication used should be credible enough to ensure that information passed is received and interpreted as it was sent by the encoder. This information needs to be developed during formulation of the project since it determines most of the project communication plan features, such as the design of the information, the most appropriate channel and media to be used (Young, 2010). These features of the communication plan are fundamental for the success of the project at hand; therefore, they should be understood by every stakeholder of the project. This paper seeks to describe important features of a project communication plan, and considerations for its implementation.
The Main Features of Communication Plan
Communication channel. It is very important that before implementation of a development project plan, the society within the project area is involved in the participatory planning process of communication. This results in mutual conformity of the actions to be deployed into a series of well-defined steps. Firstly, the media effects, such as play back and video recording, are used to assist creation of awareness of authenticity and the development opportunities anticipated in the society. Moreover, it is an advantage if the society is willing to spend time to share its perspectives and ideas openly. After the decisions on the development action are made, the project stakeholders participating in the achievement of the main purposes should be immediately identified. The stakeholders form the audience in the communication plan. Each stakeholder has a specific role to play, thus should be provided with information through the use of various communication channels depending on the situation and urgency (Young, 2010).
Audience analysis. Audience analysis is among the major features of the project communication plan. Audience analysis should involve the techniques, such as knowledge of the audience and the focus of the group discussion. The conclusion should be discussed with the representative of the key target audience. The audience should be given opportunities to share their ideas while the project managers write down the main ideas. The analysis of the audience’s ideas helps the project manager to develop a distinct image on how the audience perceives certain issues. This enables the project supervisor to develop an effective communication plan for the target audience, as well as identify the most suitable channels of communication and when it should be used (Ferguson, 1999).
Message design. Message design determines the form in which certain information should be communicated to a certain group in a specified time. This should be done considering the specific concerns and perceptions of the audience (Ferguson, 1999). Message should be designed in a way that it communicates the group requirements without raising other questions. The communication channel should not be complicated for the group to retrieve the coded message. For example, if the group is illiterate, communication channels, such as written information, should not be used. Instead, personal communication might be preferred. The communication design used in the plan should be easily accessible and interpreted by the targeted recipient. Therefore, for effective implementation of the project, communication plan should consider the perceptions of the audience.
Implementation of Project Communication Plan
The implementation of the communication plan is the first step in the project’s development. Before a project is fully implemented, the project supervisor should produce some samples of output for pre-testing. Communication plan should ensure that the effective channels of communication and message design used in the pre-testing exercise successfully meet the perceptions of the target group (Young, 2010). The project supervisor should ensure that the agents used in pre-testing exercise possess excellent interpersonal communication skills to provide viable information. Continuous monitoring and evaluation should also be administered to determine the actual performance of the project against the anticipated targets laid out in the plan. The information acquired from monitoring and evaluation processes should be used to make the necessary adjustments on the initial plans to improve efficiency of the project. Communication is essential in any given project since it serves as the link between the implementers and the project manager.
In general, project communication plan is the link between all stakeholders in the project implementation. Communication plan can be used to determine the success of the project since it influences the perception of the stakeholders or the society towards the project. This requires managers or project supervisor to develop a project communication plan that considers the society perception and culture of the area of operation (Ferguson, 1999).
- Ferguson, D., (1999). Communication planning: An integrated approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
- Young, A., (2010). "Brand media strategy: Integrated communications planning in the digital era". Palgrave MacMillan