Project Management and Communication: Creating a Technical Communication Distribution List

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Importance of Communication

As with any new project, it is imperative that a project management and communication/notification distribution list be created. During the initial phase of the project, the list should consist of the project teams and main users. This list will be used mainly to communicate the status of the project, sending documentation, inquiries and suggestions.

As the project progresses, that list may grow to include more people or stakeholders that need to be in the know. This means not only the ones who are directly involved in the project, but those that need to be notified of the status and future changes.

Creating the Distribution List

A technical PM can start gathering the names and email addresses of people that need to be included in the technical communication distribution list. The list can be created initially using an Excel spreadsheet where it will include the full first name and last name, email address, telephone number, group designation or membership and role.

Depending on the type of email software used by the company, the technical PM can also make a request to have a group distribution list created. For example, for Microsoft Outlook email wherein an Exchange Server is used, the technical PM can request the Exchange Server support team to create a group named after the specific project or application. One main advantage of doing it this way, it is easier to maintain the list, in case people leave the project or the company or new people need to be added in the future, it is easier to remove or add email addresses compared to doing it manually to add/remove one by one per communication being sent.

Communicating Planned and Unplanned Outages

A technical PM can also set the standards based on the Service Level Agreement (SLA) the application owners (development teams), business owners and technical support teams will decide for the new application. For example, if the users would request to receive communications ahead of time, it is important to define that requirement in the communication plan as part of the project plan.

In some cases, for highly critical applications, the technical support teams would need to send technical notifications for planned maintenance or outages 14 days in advanced, with reminders sent 48-72 hours in advanced. The communication should include information such as current status, successful completion, problems encountered and steps being done. For emergency changes or unplanned outages the same distribution list can also be used by the technical support teams to communicate problems, updates to the outage, etc.

Contents of a Technical Communication

Action Required

In this field, type in the key action needed, such as “Reboot Required” or “Log Off Required.” If no action is needed, enter an appropriate header, such as “Outage,” “Canceled,” “Required Reading,” “Important Message,” “Notice.”

Urgent Message To

This is a mandatory field. In this field, type the user group that is affected by the notification.

Reference Number

In this field, type the Change Request or Trouble Ticket number associated with the notification.

Date Text

This is a mandatory field. In this field, type the date or date range for the Alert.

Alert Text

This is a mandatory field. In this field, type the main body of text for this notification.

User Instructions

This would indicate special instructions if needed. Like logging off from system prior to a certain time.

Questions/Contact Information

Give information on who to contact in case people have questions or concerns.

Turnover Ownership of Distribution List

The technical project manager should turn over the ownership of the distribution list to the appropriate owner of communications. For example, a Communications Department can take over ownership of the technical communication distribution list if one is present in the company. If there is none, the technical PM can turn this over to the application owner or support teams. Moving forward, the new owner will be responsible for maintaining the distribution list to add/delete names, etc.