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PMBOK Guide: Project Communications Management

written by: Rupen Sharma, PMP • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 9/4/2010

By implementing the processes in the Project Communications Management knowledge area, effective project management communication is achieved. This article serves as a PMBOK guide to the PMBOK Project Management Knowledge Area: Project Communications Management.

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    Comparison of PMBOK 4th Edition with the 3rd Edition – Project Communications Management

    The diagram shows a comparison of the PMBOK 4th Edition and the 3rd Edition. (Click the image for a larger view.) As you can see, not a lot has changed in terms of processes within the Project Communications Management PMBOK Project Management Knowledge Area. The processes have simply been renamed to start with a verb. However, there is one major change and that is the creation of a new process called Identify Stakeholders. This signifies the importance of addressing stakeholder needs early on in the project.

    Project Communications Management 

    Image Credit: Rupen Sharma

    PMP Tip: For the CAPM and PMP exams, it is important for you to recall the names of the processes as specified in the PMBOK. In other words, Stakeholder Identification is not the same as Identify Stakeholder.

    Project Communication Management Process impacts other PMBOK Project Management Knowledge Areas, such as Project Cost Management. For example, you will be required to communicate the Cost Performance Index of the project to relevant stakeholders. The communication involved is dictated by the processes in the Project Communications Management knowledge area. This PMBOK guide focuses on this knowledge area.

    Project Communications Management consists of the following processes:

    • Identify Stakeholders
    • Plan Communications
    • Distribute Information
    • Manage Stakeholder Expectations
    • Report Performance

    Now, let’s look at each process in the Project Communications Management Knowledge Area for effective project management communication.

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    PMBOK Guide: Identify Stakeholders

    The Identify Stakeholders process involves the identification of all stakeholders that can impact the project. This Project Management Communication process involves documenting their level of interest, power, influence, and project impact.

    The key tools and techniques used in this process are stakeholder analysis and expert judgment. During stakeholder analysis, you will use the Power/Interest, Power/Influence, and Influence/Impact grids. The Salience Model is also used during stakeholder analysis. By the end of this process, you will have created a Stakeholder Register and Stakeholder Management strategy.

    Tip: Both the Plan Communications and Manage Stakeholder expectations use the output of the Identify Stakeholders process, therefore do not rush through this process.

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    PMBOK Guide: Plan Communications

    The Plan Communications process involves documenting the communication needs of the stakeholders identified in the Identify Stakeholders process. To effectively plan project communication, you need to use the Stakeholder Register and the Stakeholder Management strategy created during the Identify Stakeholders process.

    The key tools and techniques in this process are Communication Requirements analysis, Communication Technology, Communication Models, and Communication Methods. The main output of this process is the Communication Management Plan. Other project management plans may also need to be updated, as the needs of stakeholders are uncovered.

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    PMBOK Guide: Distribute Information

    The Distribute Information process in the Project Communications Management PMBOK Project Management Knowledge Area involves effectively executing the Communications Management Plan. Simply put, it is in this process that you implement the communication needs of stakeholders. For example, a Daily Status meeting is a type of communication. The key tools and techniques in this process are Communication Methods and Information Distribution Tools. Communication Methods can either be Pull, such as communication via emails, or Push Communication, such as communication via Intranet.

    Tip: Remember to always use the basic principles of communication.

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    PMBOK Guide: Manage Stakeholder Expectations

    The Manage Stakeholder Expectations process involves using the various communication methods, interpersonal skills, and ConflictMeeting management skills to ensure the communication needs of stakeholders are addressed. This will involve resolving conflicts in the workplace, facilitating meetings with stakeholders, and building trust.

    Image Credit: SXC

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    PMBOK Guide: Report Performance

    The Report Performance process involves ensuring performance, progress and forecast information are communicated to the identified stakeholders. As you might have already deduced, variance analysis and forecasting methods, are key tools and techniques in this process. The others are communication methods and reporting methods. The key output of this process is performance reports.

    To learn more about other PMBOK Project Management Knowledge Areas, read the Project Risk Management article. Alternatively, if you are preparing for the PMP certification, try a PMP Practice quiz.