Communication Management Plan

Introduction

The Communication Management Plan sets the communication framework for GSK’s commitment to performance improvement of the Center for Project Management Resources (CPMR) through training of the project team members. The plan will serve as a guide for communication throughout the life of the project and will be updated as needs change.  Virtually, this is a working document and identifies that although the first phase of the project was successful, the momentum is lost and the CPMR may encounter some resistance, especially from functional and project manager who may be forced to adjust the way they have been managing projects to accommodate new methodology standards. In this context, this communication management plan will address the following as per the request of the steering committee. Firstly, the communication plan will give a comprehensive overview of communication approaches that can be used to minimize stakeholder’s resistance to change in the procedure of managing the projects. Secondly, the plan will give an analysis of communication-related risks associated with the initiative and highlight ways to mitigate the risks.  Thirdly, we will review a variety of approaches that can be used to help stakeholders understand the link between the initiative and GSK strategic success and outline why the stakeholder’s support is necessary.

Assumptions

The Center for Project Management Resources is responsible for developing a standard project management methodology that will be used by the entire GSK R&D team. The project will run for one year, where development, piloting and rolling out will be expected to be complete by this time. During the entire period, CPMR will have a support center where experienced managers will provide virtual training to help other project managers in using the standard tools and templates.

Communication Planning

Within communication planning, the process involves determining the needs of the stakeholders and when and how the information will be given. Ideally, although projects share the need to communicate information, the needs and methods of distribution vary widely. Consistent with this information, in the first step, we will identify the communication approaches necessary to minimize stakeholders’ resistance to change during project management. According to Walley (2013), communication should be two-way, and the strategy of simply sending information without listening to the opinion of the stakeholders’ should be eliminated. Thus, the communication approach should give room to listen to the perspectives of the stakeholders’ and value their contribution. The approach is beneficial because it helps understand why the particular group is opposed to change and address these issues.

In the second step, we analyze the communication-related risks associated with the initiative and ways to mitigate the risk. Apparently, the CPMR teams will be made up of virtual members located in different cities and states. As Heed and Knight (2009) note, there are various communication-related risks associated with virtual team projects. Firstly, virtual project teams were associated with inadequate communication a risk factor defined by the low level of communication frequency with members. Effective communication has been identified a critical component in teamwork, especially in highly innovative and technical projects. In the case of GSK, the experienced project team will be training the less experienced members. Lack of adequate communication is a significant risk, and a broad overview on how to mitigate the risk should be considered. The other communication-related risk is insufficient knowledge transfer. According to Heed and Knight knowledge transfer as knowledge exchange with a clear objective and directed towards specific recipients. Ordinarily, knowledge transfer is divided into two; explicit, which uses formal methods of communication such as documentation, interview, and training. The other approach is implicit, which involves strategies such as coaching, mentoring, and community practice. The two kinds of risk can be mitigated by organizing a face-to-face training session alongside the virtual one. The third risk is the technical connectivity issues that are likely to obstruct communication. Practically, virtual teams rely on electronic connection, which is likely to suffer downtime and effectively isolate some members of the group. The solution to this could be in the adoption of network path diversity that can be used to mitigate the risk of communication when technical connectivity issues occur. Usually, this is achieved by having two network connections that use different types of technology minimizing the risk of having both down at the same time.

In the third step, the communication plan will address a variety of approaches that can be used to help stakeholders understand the link between the initiative and GSK strategic success. Apparently, it is common for projects to be launched and become successful, while another turns into an absolute failure. Consistent with this knowledge, we highlight the most feasible and viable approaches that can help stakeholders understand the link between the CPMR initiative and GSK strategies. Firstly, organizations often have a deeper explanation as to why an effort is being pushed for implementation but lack the right ways to articulate this for the stakeholders.  The right way to do this is by formulating a simple message with a deeper meaning that is also inspiring and specifically linked to the purpose of the initiative to help stakeholders connect the initiative to business success. The other method is behavior backed up by market and customer insights. According to Everse (2011), people understand a strategy is better and different when they are in touch with market realities. Thus, the challenge then remains on how to effectively convey the facts in such a way that the stakeholders will be able to react to them and support the initiative. The other approach is to use the discipline of the framework, which includes inspiring, educate and reinforce. In this case, when introducing the new initiative that relates to business success, inspire is particularly important. As Everse notes, during delivery, content should demonstrate progress as opposed to goals, as well as benefits to the organization. Once the team has been inspired by the message, the next step should involve educating groups on the validity of the initiative and the role of the stakeholders in its successful execution. The last step, which involves reinforcement is based on the assumption that explaining the connection between the initiative and business success is not enough. Preferably, the message should be repeated, strive to instill belief in order to influence change. Ultimately, participatory planning demands that all concerned stakeholders should be involved in identifying organization concerns, values, and developing a broad consensus on proposed initiatives. Their significance is also closely linked with the vast level of knowledge and information that they are likely to bring into the project. Thus, stakeholders play a critical role in setting up priorities and objectives in proposed project initiatives in order to ensure relevance and appropriateness to organization goals and objectives.

Communication Matrix

Communication TypeObjective of CommunicationMediumFrequencyAudienceOwnerDeliverableFormat
Start off meeting, updates on new initiative and decisionsTo introduce the proposed initiative to stakeholders, review its relevance to organization success and gain the support of the stakeholdersFace to faceonceProject team StakeholdersProject managerAgenda Minutes of the meetingPowerPoint slide presentation
Project team meetingsExplain to team and review the status of the projectConference calls, emails, telephone callsTwice every weekProject teamExperienced project teamAgenda Minutes of the meeting schedule of the projectSoftcopy, verbal
Monthly meetings with stakeholdersReporting on the project statusFace to faceEvery monthStakeholdersProject managerProject progress updatesPowerPoint presentation

References

Everse, G. (2011). Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2011/08/eight-ways-to-energize-your-te

Reed, A. H., & Knight, L. V. (2010). Effect of a virtual project team environment on communication-related project risk. International Journal of Project Management, 28(5), 422-427.

Walley, P. (2013). Stakeholder management: the sociodynamic approach. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 6(3), 485-504.

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