If you thought that physical teams were difficult to communicate with, consider how much more difficult a virtual team is to get the message across. This poor or improper communication can lead to some disastrous results within a project, and that’s precisely why you need to create a communication plan. As this article by Suba Lakshminarasimhan explains, the globalization of projects has led to a new and challenging landscape for healthy, proactive team communication. Lakshminarasimhan explains there are five key elements:
- Conduct an audit on the current communication process
- Involve the entire team while creating a communication plan
- Choose the right communication tools
- Stakeholder management in the communication plan
- Document the communication plan
The article then goes on to explain each of the five elements, such as this clarification on the last point (documenting the communication plan): Formal Communication: Start the documentation process by drawing a flow chart to explain the existing communication processes. This can be done while conducting a communication audit. Portray a flow chart on how the new communication process is planned. Comparing these two flow charts will help to identify the missing areas, if any. Both the upward and the downward communication processes need to be included in the documentation. Informal Communication: Occurrence of the informal communication need to be monitored and prevented as necessary. At times, the important issues are discussed and the decisions are made during the informal communications. Develop ground rules and guidelines for the informal communications through e-mails, telephone conversations and other tools. Make sure all the informal communications are documented appropriately. If not properly documented and communicated to the entire team, it can greatly affect the outcome of the project.
The article closes by one of the most often forgotten steps: share the plan. A plan, no matter how well designed or thought out, is worth nothing without the understanding and buy-in of those who are to use it.