In the practice of Portfolio Management, maintaining a robust and well-coordinated communication strategy is critical. As Portfolio Management Professionals (PfMP), our aim is always to ensure that the communication practices we adopt align with the desires and requirements of our stakeholders. This requires conducting regular reviews of our current communication capabilities, identifying gaps, and interpreting this analysis towards upgrading our communication plan.

Table of Contents

Evaluating Current Communication Capabilities

As a PfMP, the first step to maintaining an efficient communication strategy is to evaluate the existing communication abilities within your organization or project team. By taking the time to assess capabilities such as the tools currently being utilized, the frequency and effectiveness of communication activities, and the level of receptivity among both team members and stakeholders, you are placing yourself in a better position to identify areas that require improvement.

Furthermore, this evaluation is not only about assessing the performance of existing tools but also about understanding how effective these tools are in reaching the different stakeholder groups. For instance, while an email blast may work for internal team communications, more interactive platforms may be necessary for communicating with external stakeholders.

Identifying Communication Gaps

The second phase involves a thorough identification of communication gaps within your organization or project team. Here, it’s vital to consider factors such as:

  • Which communication channels or platforms are not being fully optimized?
  • Which stakeholder groups are not receiving adequate communication?
  • What key messages or information are not being effectively disseminated?
  • What existing communication norms or procedures are counterproductive or obsolete?

To identify these gaps effectively, feedback from stakeholders both within and outside the organization will be greatly beneficial. Conversations, surveys, or feedback sessions can be utilized to gain insight into stakeholder experiences with your current communication strategy.

Documenting the Communication Plan

With knowledge of current capabilities and identified gaps, the next step is to document an updated communication plan. This document ultimately serves as a roadmap for all communication related activities in the portfolio management process. It should outline:

  • The objectives of your communication strategy,
  • The main messages to be communicated,
  • The stakeholders to be reached,
  • The tools or platforms to be utilized,
  • The frequency and timing of communication activities,
  • The person or team responsible for each activity.

The best practices for documenting your communication plan include making the document easily accessible to all stakeholders and ensuring it is fluid enough to accommodate changes in stakeholder requirements or project milestones. It is also a good idea to include a feedback mechanism in your plan, as this will allow you to continually assess its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.

Example of a Communication Plan:

Objectives Message Stakeholders Tools Frequency Responsibility
Update on project progress Summary of progress and possible changes Project team, Sponsors, Customers Emails, Meetings Bi-Weekly Project Manager
Financial update Budget utilization and financial forecasting Sponsors, Finance team Financial Reports, Meetings Monthly Finance Manager

In conclusion, for PfMPs, maintaining a sound communication strategy is non-negotiable for project and organizational success. Continually evaluating your current communication capabilities, identifying gaps, and documenting an evolving communication plan are crucial steps in ensuring your strategies align with stakeholder requirements. Through incorporating feedback and embracing flexibility in your plan, you will be well-equipped to foster efficient coordination and gain stakeholders’ confidence.

Practice Test

True or False: Evaluation of current communication capabilities is not necessary in maintaining the communication strategy and plan.

  • Answer: False

Explanation: Evaluating current communication capabilities is an essential step. It allows you to understand what communication tools, systems, and processes are currently in place and how well they meet stakeholder requirements.

Which one is NOT part of the process for maintaining a communication strategy and plan?

  • a. Evaluating current communications capabilities
  • b. Documenting the communications plan
  • c. Ignoring stakeholder requirements
  • d. Identifying gaps in current communication capabilities

Answer: c. Ignoring stakeholder requirements

Explanation: Ignoring stakeholder requirements is not part of maintaining a communication strategy and plan. On the contrary, understanding and meeting stakeholder requirements is a fundamental part of the process.

Multiple select question: What are key steps to maintaining a communication strategy and plan?

  • a. Assessing current communications capabilities
  • b. Finding gaps in current communications capabilities
  • c. Documenting the communications plan to meet stakeholder needs
  • d. Ignoring feedback from stakeholders

Answer: a. Assessing current communications capabilities, b. Finding gaps in current communications capabilities, c. Documenting the communications plan to meet stakeholder needs

Explanation: The key steps to maintaining a communication strategy and plan include assessing current capabilities, identifying gaps, and documenting the plan in order to meet stakeholder needs, while always considering feedback from stakeholders.

True or False: A good communication strategy and plan should ignore stakeholders’ feedback.

  • Answer: False

Explanation: Stakeholders’ feedback is crucial to any communication strategy and plan. It allows you to understand their requirements and shape your communications strategy accordingly.

True or False: Identifying gaps in current communication capabilities is an unnecessary step in maintaining the communication strategy and plan.

  • Answer: False

Explanation: Identifying gaps in communication capabilities allows for improvement and better alignment with stakeholder requirements.

Multiple select question: When documenting a communications plan, it is important to consider:

  • a. Stakeholder requirements
  • b. Current communications capabilities
  • c. Identified gaps and proposed solutions
  • d. The latest communication trends regardless of relevance

Answer: a. Stakeholder requirements, b. Current communications capabilities, c. Identified gaps and proposed solutions

Explanation: An effective communications plan takes into account stakeholder requirements, uses current capabilities to the fullest, and addresses identified gaps with proposed solutions. It should be relevant to the project, not necessarily bound by latest trends.

True or False: It is necessary to include a step of reviewing and updating the communication strategy and plan in the project schedule.

  • Answer: True

Explanation: Regularly reviewing and updating the plan ensures that it remains effective and responsive to changing stakeholder requirements and project conditions.

Multiple select question: Which of the following should be evaluated while maintaining the communication strategy and plan?

  • a. Communication tools being used
  • b. Feedback from stakeholders
  • c. Project timeline
  • d. Gaps in communication

Answer: a. Communication tools being used, b. Feedback from stakeholders, d. Gaps in communication

Explanation: To maintain an effective communication strategy and plan, it is important to evaluate current communication tools, feedback from stakeholders, and identify any gaps in the communication. The project timeline is not directly influential.

True or False: Stakeholder requirements are constant and do not change over the course of a project.

  • Answer: False

Explanation: Stakeholder requirements can change as the project progresses, which is why the communication plan needs to be periodically reviewed and updated.

True or False: Maintaining communication strategy and plan does not involve any documentation.

  • Answer: False

Explanation: The step of documenting the communication plan is critical, it helps keep a record of all communications strategies, how they align with stakeholder requirements, and the methods used to address any gaps.

Interview Questions

What is the first step in maintaining a communication strategy?

The first step is to evaluate current communication capabilities. This involves assessing existing resources, technologies, and approaches, and how effectively they are currently meeting communication needs.

How can you identify gaps in the current communication system?

Gaps can be identified by surveying users and stakeholders, reviewing communication performance metrics, and comparing current capabilities against industry best practices.

What’s the purpose of a communication plan?

The communication plan is to ensure information is effectively disseminated to all stakeholders. It specifies what information will be communicated, when, by whom, and how.

What role does the communication plan play in stakeholder management?

A communication plan is vital for stakeholder management as it ensures that stakeholders are informed and engaged, and their needs and expectations are met.

What does a comprehensive communications plan typically include?

A comprehensive communications plan typically includes objectives, target audience, key messages, communication channels, resources, timelines, roles, responsibilities, and mechanisms for evaluation and feedback.

What can happen if there are significant gaps in the communication capabilities of a project?

Significant gaps in communication capabilities can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and delays, which can affect project performance and stakeholder satisfaction.

How can ensuring effective communication contribute to portfolio management?

Effective communication ensures that all stakeholders have the necessary information to make informed decisions, which, in turn, supports successful portfolio management.

What is the reason for conducting regular reviews of communication plans within portfolio management?

Regular reviews are conducted to ensure that the communication plan remains effective and adaptable. They allow for continuous improvement, adjustment in response to changes, and identification of new requirements.

What should a portfolio manager consider when developing a communication strategy?

A portfolio manager should consider stakeholder needs, the portfolio’s objectives, available communication channels, emerging technologies, and the portfolio’s overall context.

What is important to document in a communications plan?

It’s important to document plans, decisions, discussions, clarifications, and shared information. This ensures consistency in understanding and provides a reference point for future decision-making.

How can a portfolio manager evaluate the effectiveness of a communication plan?

A portfolio manager can evaluate the effectiveness of a communication plan through stakeholder feedback, monitoring engagement levels, and assessing the timeliness and quality of disseminated information.

How often should you review and update your communication plan and strategy?

The communication plan and strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly, ideally as part of an ongoing process. This ensures that it remains relevant and effective in meeting stakeholder needs.

Why is a gap analysis crucial in maintaining the communication strategy and plan?

A gap analysis helps identify deficiencies in the current communication strategy and plan. It provides valuable insights for improvements and helps in strategizing actions to bridge these gaps.

Why is it important to align the communication strategy with the portfolio’s objectives?

Aligning the communication strategy with the portfolio’s objectives ensures consistent and relevant messaging. It also helps in keeping the focus on achieving the portfolio’s goals.

What can be the consequences if stakeholder requirements aren’t met in the communication strategy?

If stakeholder requirements aren’t met in the communication strategy, it can lead to dissatisfaction, disengagement, and a lack of trust, which can ultimately impact the success of the portfolio.

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