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Keep Project Communication Active With the Right Documents

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 4/3/2013

Proper communication is key when managing any project. This article describes different types of documents (meeting agenda, meeting notes, status reports, etc.) that can be used to improve team communication. While documents are important, watch out for document overload!

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    Below, you will find a list of documents your project should have so that communication stays active during your project's lifecycle.

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    Communication Plan

    A communication plan is one of the most important documents you can have for your project. Even small projects can benefit. Who do globe you notify if something goes wrong? How will issues be communicated? Key elements of the communication plan include discussing the background for the plan, performing a stakeholder analysis, communication objectives that have been clearly stated, and more. You want to make sure you've identified anyone involved in the project - the stakeholders - so that you can include them in the plan of what to communicate, to whom you should communicate the information, how it should be communicated, and when.

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    Project Wikis

    Many companies are using collaborative software in order to manage projects. This collaborative software allows project managers to quickly and easy communicate all project plans - including deadline changes, important issues, and FAQs. Software such as Central Desktop allows project managers to have forums for discussing topics related to the project, email team members directly, and track important milestones and tasks.

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    Project Status Reports

    Project status reports are an essential feature of effective project management communication. A good status report will cover a specific period of time. It will list accomplishments as well as tasks that did not get completed when they were scheduled. It will list upcoming tasks, any issues that have come up during the duration of the project, and any changes to the project schedule. A well-written project status report can clearly communicate to all team members exactly where the project stands.

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    Change and Risk Management Plans

    Two other vital documents your project will need to engage thoughtful communication are a risk management plan and a change management plan. While it might seem like a project has a lot of "plans" associated with it, It is important to remember that planning carefully in the beginning will save you a lot of heartache and strife later on down the line. A risk management plan will help to ensure that you have considered anything that might go wrong with the project planning process. A change management plan determines how change will be enforced in the course of the project. For example, if you are using one project management software program, but another becomes available that is more user friendly, a change management plan will need to be in place to make the transition run more smoothly.

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    Closing Reports

    Finally, many project mangers overlook this vital document when it comes to their project. It is important to create a closing report for the project once it has been completed. This serves many purposes in communicating. One such purpose is communicating with stakeholders in the project what the project consisted of. Another purpose is to be able to look back at the project and see what succeeded and what didn't work, so that project management tasks can be more streamlined in the future. Finally, by creating a closing document for a project, it creates a valuable resource for a later time when project managers might have to complete a similar project.