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Project Management Communication Tools

Project Management Communication Tools

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Project Management Communication Tools

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Lançado em:
Nov 1, 2020


Project Management Communication Tools is the authoritative reference on one of the most important aspects of managing projects--project communications. Written with the project manager, stakeholder, and project team in mind, this resource provides the best practices, tips, tricks, and tools for successful project communications.

This book covers:

Communication Tools across all PMI Knowledge Areas and Processes
Social Media and Project Management
Agile Communication Tools
Project Management Business Intelligence
Understand the right communication tools for each stage of a project
PMP Prep Questions (Communications questions only)
Face to face communication
Communication on virtual projects
Preventing common communication problems
And much more.

Lançado em:
Nov 1, 2020

Sobre o autor

Bill Dow, PMP is a recognized expert in Project Management by the Project Management Institute (PMI) for specifically developing and managing Project Management Offices (PMOs.)  His extensive experience with Project Management and PMOs have enabled him to co-author several comprehensive books available through Amazon.com. Bill has taught at the college level for more than 15 years in Washington State, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada, and has worked at Microsoft for more than 14 years.  He has spoken at multiple Project Management Institute (PMI) conferences, breakfasts and events nationally.  Projectmanagement.com and projecttimes.com host numerous articles by Bill currently.

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Project Management Communication Tools - William Dow

Project Management Communication Tools

William D Dow


About the Authors




What’s New in this Version

PMBOK Exam Questions (Project Communications)

How To Get the Most out of this Book

How this Book Is Organized

Part I: An Introduction to Project Communications


1. Introducing Project Communication

Reviewing a Project Scenario

Plan to Communicate, Communicate the Plan

Understanding PMI’s Project Management Knowledge Areas

Understanding PMI’s Project Management Process Groups

Introducing Agile Methodology

Introducing Project Management Business Intelligence


2. Planning Project Communication

Struggling with Proper Project Communication Planning

Preventing Common Communication Problems

Defining a Project Communication Plan

Case Study - Kingdome roof replacement project and the media

Understanding the Circle-of-Communications Chart

Defining the Project Communication Requirements Matrix

Understanding the Role Report Matrix

Developing Lessons Learned Information


3. Working with Project Communications

Interacting Face-to-Face

Understanding Communication Channels

Understanding the Stakeholder Risk Tolerance Level

Preparing and Delivering Presentations

Distributing Project Information


4. Exploring Foreign and Virtual Communications

Preparing and Planning for Project Communications in Foreign Countries

Business Travel

Exploring Virtual Communications


5. Social Media and Project Management Communication Tools

What is Social Media?

Mapping Social Media Tools to Project Management Process Groups

Sharing Project Information

Customers, Stakeholders, and Leadership on Social Media

Social Media Experts


Part II - Project Communication Tools By Knowledge Areas

6. Communication Tools That Manage Project Integration

Introduction to Agile Project Meetings

Introduction to the Agile Product Vision Statement

Introduction to the Project Charter

Introduction to the Project Kick-Off Meeting

Introduction to the Project Management Plan

Introduction to the Project Meeting Minutes

Introduction to the Project Status Meeting

Introduction to the Project Status Report


7. Communication Tools that Manage Project Scope

Introduction to Agile Estimating Tools

Introduction to the Agile User Story

Introduction to the Agile User Story Backlog

Introduction to the Business Case

Introduction to the Customer Requirements

Introduction to the Design Specification Document

Introduction to the Executive Summary

Introduction to the Feasibility Study

Introduction to the System Requirements Document

Introduction to the Work Breakdown Structure


8. Communication Tools That Manage Project Time

Introduction to the Baseline Schedule

Introduction to the Gantt chart

Introduction to the Logic Network Diagram

Introduction to the Project Schedule


9. Communication Tools that Manage Project Costs

Introduction to the Budget Spreadsheet

Introduction to Earned Value Analysis

Introduction to the Earned Value Estimating Tool


10. Communication Tools That Manage Project Quality

Introduction to the Comprehensive Test Plan

Introduction to the Control Chart

Introduction to the Design Specification Document

Introduction to the Quality Management Plan

Introduction to the Quality Metrics Tool

Introduction to the Scatter Chart


11. Communication Tools for Project Resource Management

Introduction to the Circle-of-Communications Chart

Introduction to the Histogram Report

Introduction to the Project Organization Chart

Introduction to the Responsibility Matrix


12. Defining Communication Tools That Manage Project Communications

Introduction to Agile Information Radiators

Introduction to the Communication Plan

Introduction to the Change Readiness Assessment Document

Introduction to the Daily Progress Report

Introduction to the Pareto Chart

Introduction to the Project Calendar

Introduction to the Project Presentation

Introduction to the Spider Chart

Introduction to the Stoplight Report

Introduction to the Work Package


13. Defining Communication Tools to Manage Project Risk

Introduction to the Expected Monetary Value

Introduction to the Issues List

Introduction to the Risk Assessment Form

Introduction to the Risk Matrix

Introduction to the Risk Model

Introduction to the Risk Register


14. Defining Communication Tools to Manage Project Procurement

Introduction to the Document Control System

Introduction to the Formal Acceptance Document

Introduction to the Lessons-Learned Document

Introduction to the Project Proposal

Introduction to the User Acceptance Document


15. Defining Communication Tools for Working with Stakeholders

Introducing to the Change Control Plan

Introducing to the Change Request Form

Introducing the Dashboard Tool

Introducing to the Project Newsletter

Introducing to the Stakeholder Register

Introducing to the Stakeholder Management Plan


Part III - Project Communication Tools by Process Groups

16. Using Communication Tools During the Initiating Process

Mastering the Agile Product Vision Statement

Mastering Agile Estimating Tools

Mastering Agile User Stories

Mastering Agile User Story Backlogs

Mastering the Business Case

Mastering the Circle-of-Communications Chart

Mastering the Communication Plan

Mastering the Customer Requirements Document

Mastering the Document Control System

Mastering the Executive Summary

Mastering the Feasibility Study

Mastering the Project Charter

Mastering the Project Kick-Off Meeting

Mastering the Project Management Plan

Mastering the Project Organization Chart

Mastering the Project Proposal

Mastering the Quality Management Plan

Mastering the Stakeholder Register

Mastering the Stakeholder Management Plan


17. Using Communication Tools to Administer the Planning Process

Mastering the Change Readiness Assessment

Mastering the Dashboard Report

Mastering the Responsibility Matrix

Mastering the Risk Modeling Process


18. Using Communication Tools to Plan and Develop Project Deliverables

Mastering the Baseline Schedule

Mastering the Change Control Plan

Mastering the Comprehensive Test Plan

Mastering the Design Specifications

Mastering the Expected Monetary Value

Mastering the Project Calendar

Mastering the Project Schedule

Mastering the System Requirements Document

Mastering the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)


19. Using Communication Tools for Project Reporting during the Planning Process

Mastering the Budget Spreadsheet

Mastering the Earned Value Analysis Tool

Mastering the Earned Value Estimating Tool

Mastering the Logic Network Diagram

Mastering Quality Metrics

Mastering the Risk Register

Mastering the Risk Matrix

Mastering the Scatter Chart


20. Using Communication Tools During the Executing and Controlling Processes to Administer the Project

Mastering Agile Project Meetings

Mastering the Change Request Form

Mastering the Control Chart

Mastering the Project Newsletter

Mastering Project Presentations

Mastering the Project Status Meeting


21. Using Communication Tools During the Executing and Controlling Process

Mastering the Issues List

Mastering Project Meeting Minutes

Mastering the Risk Assessment Form

Mastering the Work Package


22. Using Communication Tools During the Executing and Controlling Process to Report Project Information

Mastering Agile Information Radiators

Mastering the Daily Progress Report

Mastering the Gantt chart

Mastering the Histogram Report

Mastering the Pareto Chart

Mastering the Project Status Report

Mastering the Spider Chart

Mastering the Stoplight Report


23. Using Communication Tools During the Closeout Process

Mastering the Formal Acceptance Document

Mastering the Lessons-Learned Document

Mastering the User Acceptance Document


Part IV - Project Management BI & PMP(R) Exam Questions

24. Project Management Business Intelligence

Introducing Business Intelligence as a Tool for Project Communications

Planning to use Business Intelligence as a Tool for Project Management Communications

The Project Management BI Process

Using Business Intelligent Reports


25. Sample PMP® Exam Questions for Project Communications

Sample PMP® Exam Questions: Communications


26. Bibliography

27. Appendix

Sample PMP® Exam Answers and Explanations

Project Management Communication Tools Master List

Copyright @ 2019 William Dow, PMP and Bruce Taylor

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without permission from the author.

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing, 2015 – Second Printing, 2019 – Minor updates based on PMBOK® Guide 6.0 changes

ISBN 978-0-9858695-2-6

Dow Publishing LLC

1210 N 42nd Place

Renton, WA 98056

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Always provide an attribution statement when using PMI marks.

Registered Marks. Registered marks are marks that are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If the PMI List of Marks indicates that the mark is registered, the attribution statement should include the word registered, as follows:

PMI and PMP are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013.  Copyright and all rights reserved.  Material from this publication has been reproduced with the permission of PMI.

PMBOK is a registered mark of Project Management Institute, Inc.


Include an attribution of Apple’s ownership of its trademarks within the credit notice section of your product, product documentation, or other product communication.

Following are the correct formats:

Apple Keynote® is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.


Use Trademark Notices

Microsoft, Excel, Office, PowerPoint, Project, SharePoint, SQL Server, Skype, and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

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To Our Wives & Families

We want to thank Kath and Nancy for their constant dedication and never-ending support while we wrote this book. The development of this book became a major project for all us and we spent many hours apart. We both thank you for being so understanding and giving us that time. It was truly a team effort.

About the Authors

Bill Dow has worked in Information Technology (IT) for the last 30 years, with 28 years focusing on project management. He built ten Project Management Organization (PMOs) from the ground up by using Project Management Institute’s (PMI) best practices and core principals and he’s led countless projects. He has worked in Canada, the United States, and across a variety of industries.

Bill is the co-author of the book, Project Management Communications Bible, published in 2008 by Wiley Publishing Inc. This book, Project Management Communications book is a major update to the Communication Bible, where we have incorporated new material, updated PMI references, and added exciting new chapters.

Bill’s second book, The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO, encapsulates 10 years’ experience building and implementing PMOs into an easy read and textbook for any PMO manager, portfolio, program, or project manager.

Bill’s forth book, The PMO Lifecycle: Building, Running, and Shutting Down is a major update to his Tactical Guide for Building a PMO book that covers not only building a PMO, but running and shutting down as well.

Bill is an Adjunct Professor at Bellevue College in Bellevue, Washington and owns his own book publishing company, Dow Publishing LLC.

Contact Bill Dow at: billdow@dowpublishingllc.com

Bruce Taylor is an expert in the field of project management. He regularly provides professional assistance to top management and has accumulated impressive experience in developing project scheduling and cost control systems continuously since the mid-1960s. He has worked worldwide on some of the largest projects, including some major offshore platforms in the North Sea and the Northwest shelf of Australia.

Bruce is a pioneer in project management software tools. He and a partner founded a small project management consulting and software development company, which quickly grew internationally. Using his experience, the company developed and marketed an automated project scheduling and cost control system. Included in this development was the first automated network logic diagram chart using the critical path method of scheduling. He built a client base of over 150 major companies worldwide, including branch offices in France and Australia.

Over the past 40+ years, he has conducted many project management classes and seminars throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, South America, and the Near and Far East.

Contact Bruce Taylor at: brucehtaylor@hotmail.com


Book Front, Back, and Side Cover(s) Design— Elysia Chu

Book Foreword— Tammo T. Wilkens, P.E., PMP

Book Editor—Sarah Rogers

Project Management Leadership, Mentor, Friend—Al Callan, PMP

Agile Project Management Communication Tools—Kevin W. Reilly, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM, CSPO

Project Management Body of Knowledge ® (PMBOK® Guide) Exam Questions—Dan Yeomans, PMP

Project Management Business Intelligence—Michael Hopmere


The Project Management Institute’s PMBOK® Guide devotes an entire knowledge area to communications. Why? Communications is such a general and pervasive process; we all do it naturally. Why do we need a communications standard? As part of my Project Management Certificate program at Cal State Dominguez Hills, I naturally cover communications. I ask the students, What are Project Managers supposed to do? Of course, I get the usual answers about producing plans, producing schedules, reviewing designs, managing risks, and so on. I then tell them that while project managers are certainly involved in those endeavors, they are not supposed to do anything. All that project managers should do is communicate and facilitate. It’s the rest of the project team that does everything.

As you most likely realize, the reality is that project managers do indeed get their hands dirty producing the above mentioned items. But, one needs to realize that when project managers do perform these tasks, they temporarily remove their management hat and swap it out for a worker’s hat. The whole point is that communications is a central effort to managing projects, so skills in that arena are essential to being a successful project manager.

No human social process is as pervasive, or as important, as communications. It affects all human relationships and endeavors; be it a marriage, a football game, the classroom, or a project. Somehow, we all seem to be able to recognize poor communication or the lack of any communication, but we can’t seem to see it coming, and we’re not sure just what makes good communications. That makes it difficult to intercept the problem because it is generally too late by the time we identify the problem. One solution might be proper planning. You have likely heard the old adage that, Those who fail to plan, plan to fail! Yet even planning requires some forethought, help, and proper tools.

Project teams and stakeholders require information as rapidly as possible. Receiving a monthly progress report long after the status date is like reading last week’s newspaper. Team members require accurate and comprehensive details on the scope of their work and they need it now. Stakeholders want to know the status and the performance of the project execution. Contractors need to have clarification on ambiguous issues in the specifications and drawings. Funding agencies want to know that their funds are being used as planned. Participants want to know what to expect at upcoming meetings so they can prepare. International teams face the added challenge of different time zones and cultural issues, such as perceptions and practices.

Communications technology has evolved and allowed for much greater speed in communicating. Similarly, the newer technology for executing the project activities has allowed for more rapid production and execution of the work. Along with this speed increase, we are faced with problems and issues arising more rapidly and in increasing volume. This, in turn, requires more rapid capabilities with which to respond, and tools for dealing with the vast array of data and information. Nothing has revolutionized human communication capability as much as the Internet, and since Gutenberg invented the printing press. Radio and television come close, but even they are limited in scope by the presentation format, the geographic boundaries of broadcasts, and the regulatory limitations of governments. And with the ever expanding use of the Internet, even these media have resorted to streaming their content over the Internet. This continuing evolution of technology seems to have no end in sight. This new edition will help you deal with these technological changes.

Communication is the key to keeping team members, managers, and stakeholders informed and on track to pursue the project objectives. Communication is also the key to identifying issues, risks, misunderstandings, and other challenges to project completion.

The task of dealing with all these challenges and demands can be daunting; however, there is abundant help available. The literature is full of books on communication skills and methodologies. The challenge is to find a single, comprehensive publication that covers the subject from head to toe, for project management in specific.

Add to all this, the vast array of options for what, when, and how to communicate project information, and it can quickly become a bit overwhelming on just what to do and how to do it right. A comprehensive guide that is well organized and attuned to PMI’s PMBOK® Guide is a tool that will only enhance your success as a project manager.

I am delighted to congratulate you on reading a volume that has met that challenge. Bruce Taylor and Bill Dow, PMP have concluded a superb effort to bring the subject into focus while covering all aspects of the issues. This second edition brings the topics up to date as technology has advanced ever further. Using the PMBOK® Guide as a framework, they have organized the material in a logical fashion that will aid you in honing your skills in a specific subject. You will also find the material broken down into two major parts: tools and processes.

Whether you are looking to gain insight about specific tools and techniques that can help you, you will find the answer here. The material is also current in light of the ever-changing technologies that we humans use to communicate with others. Just as the technology of communications tools has evolved, so has the type of information and the formats used to present information. Performance reports, earned value techniques, information distribution systems, document control systems, configuration control processes, and risk handling are just a few of the many project communication tools used around the globe. Many of these have evolved over time. This volume covers it all.

So please, keep this book within reach, mark the pages, use paperclips or self-stick notes as bookmarks. It will be your friend for life. Enjoy! And may your future communication problems all disappear before they really are problems.

Tammo T. Wilkens, P.E., PMP


This book is a guide for all project managers, team members, and customers or clients regardless of the project’s size, industry, or complexity. The book acts as a single source of project communication tools for immediate use on your projects.

As a project manager, one of your top priorities is to ensure that you have a handle on all your project’s communications. It’s critical that you control every major message flowing in and out of your project. There is an old, but wise, saying, A project that communicates poorly is going to perform poorly. That’s such a true statement, and one that should guide you on your projects.

This book maps various communication tools to PMI’s PMBOK® Guide knowledge areas and life-cycle process.

The mapping between the methodologies and the tools allows you and your team members to easily understand which tools to use when communicating during a specific area of the project.

As you start to look at the mapping between the communication tools and the knowledge areas, there can be a great debate over where a tool will live. Should the tool be in the planning or executing phase? Should a tool be assigned to integration or closing? Regardless of where a tool should or shouldn’t live, your job is to find the right tool for what you are trying to communicate. If you are stuck trying to communicate a budget issue, look in the cost section to find the budgeting tools. We understand that there cannot be a perfect match on where a tool will live, but that’s really not the point of the mapping. The point is to get you thinking about your projects in a different way and to be able to quickly find a tool based on your project’s current knowledge area or life cycle. We mapped both the PMBOK® Guide’s knowledge areas and life-cycle processes for every communication tool.

When reviewing the tools in this book, you will see the terms customer or stakeholder, and it is important to understand who these individuals are. The project customer, or stakeholder, is the individual who has commissioned you to do the project. Some people use the term client, but regardless of the term used, this individual is the customer. The other assumption that we make is that you, the reader, are a project manager. You will see a lot of you must do this, or you should do that, well, that’s because we are speaking to you, the project manager. You could be running a large IT project, a construction project, or a research project. It doesn’t matter the project type, what matters is you understand that we are trying to help you be more successful.

This book includes an appendix with a table called, Project Management Communication Tools List that provides you with an instant reference of the various communication tools located throughout the book. The spreadsheet contains tool name, chapter # for part II chapter # for part III, knowledge area, life cycle, and its’ purpose for use with social media tools. You’ll likely find this spreadsheet priceless in managing your project’s communications!

If you are not a project manager, and you are playing the role of a customer or a client of a project, having this knowledge and understanding of the mapping between communication tools and knowledge areas or life-cycle processes will be valuable to you as well. This will give you great insight and allow you to have meaningful conversations with your project manager or team members about which tools are available to use on the project. You can request that the project manager use tools that you need for specific areas of the project that you previously didn’t know existed. If you ever feel you are not getting good information on a specific area of the project from your team, you now have access to solutions and several tools at your fingertips that you can share with your project manager for use on the project. This information is valuable and will help you get the information you need from the project manager in a format you can use to make project decisions. It is important that you are getting the information you need to make project decisions and guide the project to completion. Using the tools in this book, you can suggest to the project manager, or team members, the tools you would like them to use on your project. The project manager will have examples readily available that they can show you and that you can jointly agree to use on your project. Without you having the knowledge of all the different kinds of communication tools available, you may not know what project information you are missing (budget spreadsheet, risk register…and so on) and, therefore, may not be getting all the data you need to make project decisions. This book will become valuable to you in ensuring your project manager or project team members are continually sending you the information you need in the format that you need.

To communicate more effectively, this book offers a series of communication tools to anyone involved in the project. There are times when project managers, or team members, are unfamiliar with how to communicate certain aspects of their project. That happens to even the most seasoned project managers. However, there is a solution, and that is for the project manager to grab the mapping chart for communication tools to knowledge areas (or life-cycle processes) to help resolve that communication issue. The project manager can reference any one of the tools in this book to help communicate across any of those areas. Because there are many tools in this book, there is a high likelihood that one of the tools will be applicable for a specific projects scenario. The communication tools in this book are applicable for across various projects and most industries. That is the great aspect about project communication management; it is not industry specific—a status report is a status report. You need one in IT, you need one in construction, and you need one in manufacturing. The content is different, but the tools are essentially the same.

What’s New in this Version

Anytime a new version of a book is published, the first question people ask is, What is in the new edition—should I buy this edition when I already own the first version? These are great questions and we would say, yes, yes, yes…

We updated this edition to include some new and exciting chapters while removing some outdated tools. For example, we removed the critical chain tools, which were much more popular and relevant five or six years ago, but not as relevant today. There are other tools we removed, but let’s not spend time looking back, let’s look forward. The complete list of tools is in the Project Management Communication Tools table located in the Appendix.

Here is the list of new chapters and sections we added in this edition:

Agile Project Management Communication Tools

PMBOK Exam Questions (Project Communications)

We are excited to bring you this new edition as we believe it is going to help you drive your projects as effectively as possible, while keeping communications as your top priority.

Important Note about the Tool Templates:

Tool templates will be available online at www.dowpublishingllc.com/store

How To Get the Most out of this Book

Here are some areas to consider that will help you get the most out of this book:

For general knowledge of project communications in a working environment, review and analyze Part I of the book.

For information about communications tools and how they relate to knowledge areas, review and analyze Part II of the book.

For information about communications tools and how they relate to life-cycle processes, review and analyze Part III of the book.

The Agile Project Management Communication tools are contained in Part II and Part III of the book.

For general knowledge of Project Management Business Intelligence (BI), Social Media and Project Management, and Project Management Professional (PMP®) Exam Prep questions (communication questions only), review and analyze Part IV of the book.

Refer to the Appendix to review the PMP® Exam Prep Answers and Project Management Communication Tools table as a reference to ensure that you are using the right communications tools for your project.


Tips offer you extra information that further explains a given topic or technique, often suggesting alternatives or workarounds to a listed procedure.


Notes provide supplementary information to the text, shedding light on background processes or miscellaneous options that aren’t crucial to the basic understanding of the material.


Cross references help you find related information to a given topic in another chapter.

Tool Value

Tool values show you the value of the tool for the project manager, customer, team members, and other stakeholders.

Social Media Tools

Social media information provides the common communication purposes and the most applicable social media tools.


Caution provides extra information to about tool that the project manager should watch out for when using the tool.

How this Book Is Organized

The book is broken down and organized in four main parts. In the first part, we discuss general project management communication. The second part covers communication tools that support the project knowledge areas. The third part includes the same communications tools; however, it demonstrates the creation and use of the tools across the life-cycle processes. Finally, the fourth part provides a different look at communication tools. This section covers areas such as project management BI, PMP® exam prep questions (communication questions only) and social media and project management. We hope that you find this extra information helpful. Finally, in the Appendix you will find answers to the PMP® exam prep questions and the Project Management Communication Tools table that documents every tool we discuss in the book. Feedback from the first version of the book indicated that many readers found the table useful; it quickly became a critical resource for project managers and team members when researching the appropriate tool to use when communicating project information.

Part I: An Introduction to Project Communications

Project communications planning is the task of identifying the information needs and requirements of the project’s customers. Customers need information about the project, such as risk events, budget data, and schedule information. You are the project manager, so you must be proactive and plan for your customer’s needs. Most project managers do not plan their communication needs and often struggle when times get tough on their projects. When project managers don’t spend the time to properly plan their communications, they are forced to scramble to communicate effectively to their customers when project problems occur. It happens all the time, many project managers do not see the value of planning their communications and end up paying for it with failed projects, loss of customer confidence, and occasionally, removal from the project.

One of the most challenging parts of being a project manager is project communications. Many project managers fail at being good communicators. As projects become complex and more challenging, project managers need to step up and become effective communicators. The challenges that project managers face today are greater than in the past. These challenges include virtual project teams, shorter product times to market, and technology advancement. The project manager also deals with changes in the middle of the project, and the diversity of product availability (new products coming out daily). During communication planning, the project manager must document project information such as: who, what, where, when, and how. Occasionally, but not in the communication plan, documenting the why can also be valuable to you and your customer. Communication planning will guide you, your team, and the customer through the project life cycle.

The next area that we cover includes communicating in foreign environments and with virtual teams. Project management is now much more global than it ever has been. You may be responsible for driving virtual teams and traveling to foreign markets. Some of your project manager peers are spending 100% of their time traveling from country to country. In this section, we cover both virtual teams and some common customs of working and living in different countries around the world. This chapter is not a comprehensive list of all the customs or behaviors across every country. Rather, it provides a review for you and your team members who have not worked abroad and may need some basic tips about working in different countries. Even having some awareness of different customs can help individuals who must work in a different country. In the virtual communication section, we cover case studies, managing and motivating virtual teams, and virtual team member qualifications. This section provides a light review of managing virtual teams and working and communicating in a virtual environment. There are many books dedicated to leading and managing virtual teams that go into much deeper detail that we don’t cover in this book. If your full-time job is managing virtual project teams, we recommend that you read books that are dedicated to this topic area.

Part I also covers social media and project management and how far we have come in a short period of time with social media tools and the impact they have on project communications. It would not be wise to ignore the various social media tools for communicating project information. For more information about social media and project management, head over to Chapter 5 - Social Media and Project Management Communication Tools.

Part II: Project Communication Tools by Knowledge Areas

The second part of this book describes and highlights the communication tools applicable to the nine knowledge areas. Communication tools can have primary knowledge areas and secondary knowledge areas. For example, a communication tool can be a primary tool in the cost knowledge area, and a secondary tool in the quality knowledge area. Using best-practice techniques and historical reference will help you decide where each communication tool fits within what knowledge area. This tool mapping to knowledge area is not perfect (it was never intended to be perfect!) but can be considered a best fit for most projects. As you manage your project, you will use the tools that are most applicable for your needs.

The second part of the book also covers Agile software development communication tools. We also mapped the Agile tools to the knowledge areas and life-cycle processes. We hope you will find this mapping easy to follow.

Part III: Project Communication Tools by Process Groups

This part describes and highlights the communication tools applicable to the five life-cycle processes. In this section of the book, the goal is for you to master the creation and use of these tools. This process is the same one used for mapping communication tools to knowledge areas. Communication tools can map across one, or many, of the project life cycles. Therefore, there are no hard rules that indicate when you should use one communication tool over another. As with the knowledge area process, use just the tools you need for your project. The more places you use communication tools without overloading your customer, the better, which often leads to improved communications on your project. More is not necessarily better but selecting the right tool for the right situation is what is most important.

Part IV: Project Management BI & PMP® Exam Questions

This part covers two main areas: project management business intelligence (BI) and PMP® exam prep questions (communication-related questions only) for taking the PMI® exam. In this section of the book, we move past communication tools (as covered in the previous chapters) and go into the power of information (project management BI) that using communication tools provides. Think about all the data and information contained in a simple project status report. In this part of the book, we have also included some PMP® exam questions. We feel that by adding these questions and answers, you will get a feel for what the PMP® exam is like. We only added a few communication-related questions (this is a communications book), but the questions provide a good sampling if you are new to the PMP® exam process. We have listed ten common questions from the communications chapter that you will likely face in the exam. We also felt the individuals who already have their PMP® certification may run into these same scenarios on their projects and could use a refresher. The answers to the exam questions are provided in the Appendix. For more information about the project management BI and exam questions, head over to chapters 24 and 25.


Projects mainly fail for one reason only: poor project communications. A lack of clear and concise communications prevents projects from succeeding. It is that simple! Regardless of what you read or what experts on the web say, when you or your team do not communicate effectively, you will have a hard time completing a successful project. This is also true for clients or customers of the project. They too also own the responsibility for communicating effectively on their projects by providing you and your team members the information needed to execute the project. Project communications is a two-way effort and both parties are responsible for ensuring that their messages are clear and concise. Without that, project failure is inevitable!

There are countless surveys on the web that document all the reasons projects fail. These surveys pop up all over the web. Sometimes they say project failure is due to communication issues, sometimes they say it is due to something else. But the results are the same; the projects are failing repeatedly for one reason or another. However, what survey results lack when they state one reason or another is the why. That’s the downside of these surveys. You will often see reasons such as poor requirements, poor scope control, but you won’t see them call out poor communication as one of the reasons. One way or another, poor communication will be a reason in project failure surveys. You don’t must look too deeply at the survey to recognize that communicating more effectively could have prevented different situations (poor scope control, for example) from occurring. For example, let’s look at how poor requirements as a reason for project failure could be a communications issue as well.

Poor Project Requirements – 45%

If I decide to capture my requirements over email, and only over email, would that be a communication problem?

If I decided to never meet face-to-face to capture my project requirements with my customer, would that be considered a communication problem?

Given these two examples, clearly the entire 45% would not fall under poor project requirements when some of the percentage should also fall under communication issues. In these two examples, it was how the business analyst decided to capture the requirements that lead to the problem with poor project requirements. There will be some situations where your project has poor project requirements. That is going to happen, but it will be limited and will most likely fall back on how the communications were initially collected.

It is important for you and your team to consider the importance of communications when looking at project failure survey results. It would not be wise to simply take the percentage you are given as the entire reason for the issue because, as we just covered in the poor project requirements example, communication played a role in that outcome as well. When you start looking at the various reasons from a communications perspective, you will have a different view of the issue. You will quickly see how important communication is and how you can potentially reduce the impact of these issues occurring on your project.

There is a common saying in the project management profession, Project communication is the most important area of managing a project. If you are a poor communicator, this can make it difficult to be successful running projects. If you are a great communicator, and proactive in managing your communications, your life as a project manager will be much easier.

The most important part of project communications is the way you approach it. Most of your project manager peers just let communications happen; they do not plan for it. Don’t be like your peers. It is common for project managers to send out project status reports, issues lists, and risk registers as their continuing and regular project communications. On average, we don’t think they are considering whether the customer is even viewing this information. Do you think the average project manager stops in the middle of the day to decide whether the reports that he/she is sending are valuable? Does this information provide the customer with what they need? We don’t think so, and that is why so many project managers run into trouble. If you are not properly planning or understanding your customer’s communication needs (before starting any project work) you could run into some serious issues down the line. These regular communications that you are sending to your customers may not be getting the job done for them or your leadership team. If that is the case, you could get in some serious trouble with your customers.

For you to be successful, it is important for you to look at the tools you are using today on your project and ask yourself if you are communicating effectively. Really ask yourself that question and seek an honest response. Then, ask your customers and see how they respond. If they don’t respond to that question positively, you have your answer. You know right then that you need to do a better job planning which communication tools would be most effective for your customers. Then go forward and work directly with your customers or clients to ensure that they are receiving the information they need. This early planning work and getting with your customers or clients to fully understand their needs will help ensure effective communications between both parties. This planning for communications idea might be new to you and your peers, but it is slowly taking hold in our industry. More and more project managers are starting to adopt this process, and the ones who do are becoming much more successful with their projects.

Planning communications is a fundamental change for most of you and your project manager peers, and it is important to understand this culture shift immediately. Changing the way you think about project communications will allow you to be more successful. You must understand what information you need to manage your project successfully. Typically, most project managers ask team members for project information, but they don’t explain how or why they want it. When you do not take the time and explain how you want project information, you are not properly communicating to your team members and it can be frustrating for everyone. Successful communicators change the way they think about communicating by planning how they are going to communicate project information. When your team members send you the basic project information, they are not necessarily thinking how to communicate that information properly; they are just sending it because you are asking for it. Usually, they do not even consider whether the information they send is even usable, they just send it over. Often, you will find that team members send the information and hope you go away and stop bugging them from getting their real work done. If you worked closely with them and explained why and how you want the information from them, it opens and improves the communication between both parties. It also sets up a trusted relationship between you and your team members, which is critical to a successful project.

Without making that paradigm shift (planning your communications), you can complete your projects, but just not as effectively as possible—especially if you don’t do communication planning with your customers and team members. You could have made a huge difference to your customers if you had just given some thought about how you were going to communicate the project information to them throughout the life of the project.

Your customers can benefit from this effective and proactive communication style. When you are proactive and plan communications with your customers, they are confident that they will get the information they need for effective project decision making throughout the life of the project. Proactive project managers are more in control of their project communications. Project managers who don’t control their communications are more reactive and in firefighting mode. You are in much greater control of your projects when you are a proactive communicator rather than a reactive communicator. That’s been proven over many years by project management professionals across every industry. Being a proactive communicator also establishes a much better rapport with your customers and team members and will go a long way in helping you run a successful project. Let’s move now into the main book and help you become a much more effective communicator on your projects.


Introducing Project Communication


Reviewing a Project Scenario

Plan to Communicate, Communicate the Plan

Understanding PMI’s Project Management Knowledge areas

Understanding PMI’s Project Management Process Groups

Agile Methodology

Introducing Project Management Business Intelligence

Many project managers take good communication for granted. They start working on a project without even thinking about how to communicate with others. The lack of a communication plan is the biggest mistake you and your team members can make, yet it happens on most projects. It is important to understand that just because you finished a project doesn’t mean you did a good job communicating your project information; it just means you finished it. That’s all. Don’t think that because you didn’t focus on communication that it is not important, because those are the project managers who often run into the most trouble. When facing project problems, the project manager who has planned and prepared for them should see the least amount of negative impact or damage to his or her project.

Project communication management is comprised of three components:

Communicating project information in a timely manner

Generating the right level of information for the customers, leadership, and team members

Collecting, distributing, and storing project information


The combination of these areas results in proper project communication. Take the time to see the bigger picture and fully understand the project communication areas of your project.

Each team member communicates daily with other team members about various subjects, issues, and processes. One common challenge that project teams face is that everyone assumes they communicate properly with each other. When, in fact, that is often not the case and they are miscommunicating rather than communicating. In this chapter, we cover why you, the project manager, should plan your project’s communication strategy and review the communication tools to knowledge area and life cycle process mapping.

The core of this chapter and the take-away for you is the mapping communication tools to knowledge areas and process group charts. You are going to love these charts! This is so important for you and your team members when planning your project’s communications because these two charts give you the starting point to build out your communication strategy for the project. You no longer must think about which tools you need to communicate cost information or risk management; that information is located in the charts for you to use immediately. That work has already been completed for you. All you must do is use the two process charts to see which tools are available to use right away.

Let’s get started planning your project communications.

Reviewing a Project Scenario

A typical scenario in the day in a life of a project:

A stakeholder requests an unexpected report.

A team member who is familiar with the data or has the skills to run a tool produces the report.

The stakeholder wants to receive the report every week. Therefore, the team member who created the report is now on the hook to update it and send it weekly indefinitely.

This scenario happens every day on thousands of projects. The stakeholder requests a report, and it gets created, printed, and then sent off as soon as possible. This is simple for a project manager because it requires no thinking or planning, just getting the information to the stakeholder as soon as possible.

However, what just happened here? Or rather, what did not happen? Absolutely no planning occurred. The project manager was randomized with another request from the customer as they have been a hundred times before. The project manager has no idea why they are providing the report; he or she just provides it because the customer requested it.

Well, if you think about this scenario and what happened, you can see how a project manager could have applied some communication planning techniques to this situation. The customer would still get the information needed, but the project manager and team members would have been much smarter about why. They also could have suggested more efficient tools and processes to the customer to get the information they needed.

Here is a better way to handle this scenario. Put yourself in the role of the project manager for this scenario and ask yourself these questions:

What information does the report provide?

What are you trying to achieve with this information?

Who needs this report and how will they use it?

How often is the information needed?

How quickly do you need the report developed?

Do you have the budget to develop this report?

Is there an existing report that includes similar information?

Using the questions and answers technique develops the customer requirements for the requested report. This technique saves time and potentially hours of clarifying the needs of the customer. You then ensure that you have the report requirements long before anyone develops anything. That way, if nobody requests it, nobody has wasted time creating something that isn’t useful. It is a good idea for you and your team members to look at the requested report to evaluate whether other stakeholders would value from it. Usually, if it is good for one stakeholder, it will be good for others. That is a win-win for everyone!

When you or your team members do not gather all the information needed for the request and simply develop the report on the fly, you are setting a bad example. This behavior is one that encourages continual randomization of you and your team. Completing a short-term request while not considering the long-term use of the information doesn’t make sense. That’s not something that you or your team would want to do continually, for any customer, on any project. Why? Because it takes away from your real project work, which is never a good idea! Extra work increases timelines, increases costs, and causes other project-related issues.


There are some reports that should be created quickly, especially if executives are asking for them. But you must be thinking about communication planning when these requests are made. Often, these short-term reports quickly become long-term reports. Then they never go away! Planning how project information is communicated is not only your responsibility, but that of your project team members and the customer.

Plan to Communicate, Communicate the Plan

We recommended that, as you begin new projects, you step back and determine how you will communicate project information effectively. This technique of planning of your project communications is still considered pretty new in the project management industry. Using this approach and mindset forces you and your team—as well as your customers—to think in a completely different way about how to deliver or receive project information. Each communication tool (such as a status report), is going to present different project information. Therefore, you should plan how you will communicate this information to your customers, and customers should plan how they will use the information after they receive it. The days when project customers received and accepted generic status reports from project managers are over! For example, customers who plan the information they need for project-level, decision-making purposes will no longer accept a status report that does not provide the information they need. If customers are not seeing the information they require, then you have failed to communicate properly. Customers will not accept randomly created status reports that may or may not include the information they need—especially if it is just a generic template. Customers will treat this situation in several different ways, and you must be aware of what some customers might do if they are not getting the information they need, in a format that they can use. Here are some of the ways customers or clients will deal with the information that is in a format they don’t want or never agreed to.

They will simply ignore it.

They will take the report the way it is and add to it or put it in a format that works for them.

They will send it on as-is and spend their own time creating a new format, essentially making your information useless.

Don’t be surprised how customers and clients react if you continue to send them the same information in a format they can’t or won’t use. Also, you will quickly lose credibility with your customers or your leadership team if you continue to send them information in such a format. Your job is to ensure that you are communicating effectively. It is going to take some time to plan your communications with you customers, leadership, and your project team members.


In Chapter 2 – Planning Project Communication, we cover the different ways customers want to receive project information.


Use your communication tools correctly. These tools enable you to deliver various project statuses to stakeholders and leadership. Therefore, make sure you are using the right set of tools for your customers.

Plan to communicate

Normally, you provide the project status to your customer, but rarely do both parties spend time together to actually plan the information that is going back and forth between them. You or your team members send the information to your customer without knowing if the information is valuable or helpful. That is the fundamental problem with project communications today, and we see it all the time on projects. What you need to do is sit down with your customer and ask them what information they need from the project. When that occurs, there is a much better understanding of the data that should flow between them. Then, you just must plan accordingly and get the tools ready for use.

Project planning is not new; project managers have been planning projects for years. However, project communications planning is new, but sadly, it is rarely done by project managers or project team members. We recommend that you and your project management peers plan not only your projects from end to end but plan your communications as well. There is a project management saying, When you plan your project, spend the time and plan your communications as well. Project communication tools are just as important as planning your resources, your schedule and your budget. We suggest you learn the various communication tools in this book, and then select the right tools based on the size of the project, the knowledge area you are communicating, and the specific life cycle process you are in at the time. Communication planning goes a long way in effectively communicating your project information with your customers, leadership, and team members. Using the tools in this book will give you a huge advantage and go a long way in helping you become a great communicator on your projects. Your customers, leadership, and team members will value the time and effort you put into planning your communications, and you will increase your chance of success on your projects.

After the project management communication planning is complete, and you and your customers agree on which communication tools will work for the project, you should send out the communication plan for approval. The communication plans should go to all customers, clients, and leadership and include the agreed upon information and communication tools for the project. It is best practice for you to get signoff on the communication plan by all parties. That way, when there are issues on the project, you can refer to the agreed upon communication plan and respond accordingly. Without signatures, the project is open to random changes, which makes it much harder for you to be successful.

In this book, we also cover some new communication tools in the project management industry. The first tool is the circle-of-communications chart. This chart highlights the various roles on the project with the project manager role being in the center. This chart shows the project manager’s name in the center circle, which indicates that you are the center of all project communications. All project information and data must flow through you. Nothing officially goes out about the project unless you send it or you approve it. You own all official communications on the project. You do not must be a bottleneck, or involved in every email, but by putting your name in the center of the circle, you at least must be involved in controlling official communications. The last thing you want to do is make yourself the roadblock. That would not be effective for anyone; however, it is critical that you are the last stop and the person ultimately accountable for official project communications.

The second tool we cover is the project communication requirements matrix. This tool documents project roles, reports timing and frequency, and includes the names of the staff members receiving project information. The names of project team members and customers come directly from the circle-of-communications chart.

The next tool we cover is called the role report matrix. This tool is a table that displays the project roles and the different reports those roles receive for the project. The role report matrix also captures the reports distribution timetable (weekly, monthly, quarterly, and so on). This allows anyone to view, at a glance, who is receiving which report and how often. This tool is helpful when your customer calls you about not getting project information. You’ll know exactly what they are getting by looking at the names on the role report matrix. Therefore, by taking the time to create the role report matrix for your project, you will always know what kind of information is being sent to your customers and leadership team. For your project, you should control all incoming and outgoing project information. That’s the purpose of the role report matrix. The tool stores the communication requirements coming from the customers and leadership team. Often, customers ask for data they are already receiving, they just don’t know which report it is in. That’s where you would use the role report matrix with your customer to tell them where the data is that they’re looking for. This is a good example of what was mentioned earlier about customers getting information in a format they don’t like or can’t use themselves. What customers often do is ignore the reports and turn around and randomly ask you or your team members for the information directly.

Finally, we highlight and discuss in detail the impact and benefits of using a project communication plan. As we all know, project communication plans are one of the most important tools you can use on a project. It is also a tool that establishes the rhythm of project communications for every project. Without having a solid communication plan, the project manager, team members, or customers have no idea who is managing, controlling, or reporting project information.


See Chapter 2 – Planning Project Communication for more information about the project communication requirements matrix and the people-report matrix.

One method you can use to plan project communications is to gather the project team members and customers, or clients, in a communication planning meeting. This meeting allows the group to jointly plan who will be involved in communicating project information. During the meeting, you drive creating the following tools: circle-of-communications chart, the communication requirements matrix, the role report matrix, and the project calendar. When finalized, they go into the communication management plan. The group selects the various communication tools for the project. This allows everyone from the start to be on the same page about the project’s communication tools and who is responsible for creating them. After the planning meeting occurs, you can complete the communication management plan and ensure that everyone agrees and signs off on the document. Make sure you send the communication management plan to all customers, clients, leadership (upper management), and your project team members for signoff. The communication management plan is the official plan for the project. However, if changes need to be made, you would go through the formal change control process.

The Project Management Office (PMO) is important in the role of project communication. PMOs support all the company’s projects and all their different methodologies. PMOs must support and stay on top of the industry methodologies in order to stay relevant and survive. Normally, a project or program director runs the PMO with project managers and administrative support. The size of the PMO will vary depending on the company size and the number of projects being executed. Large corporations have used PMOs for many years. Often, PMOs set the standard for project communication tools, such as status reports, issues lists, risks, communication plans, project schedules, and so on. As a project manager, your job is to know your PMO’s governances and processes. By auditing projects, most PMO directors ensure that they are adhering to the PMO’s rules and guidelines.

Understanding PMI’s Project Management Knowledge Areas

The project manager and team members are involved in all aspects of the project; therefore, one of the most important things you and your team members can do is understand the project’s knowledge areas. Knowledge areas are documented within the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) PMBOK ® Guide and widely used across most projects, regardless of size or industry. To be a successful project manager, you should know and understand each of these knowledge areas well and consider them when running your project on a day-to-day basis. It is a little tricky to understand. But, when you are communicating project information, you are doing so under a specific knowledge area—could be one or two areas, but it is at least one, every time and in every case. Everything within a project falls into a knowledge area. Let’s think about that for a second and go over a sample table with that in mind to make it easier to understand.

Table 1.1 Project Deliverables to Knowledge Area mapping covers a sampling of a project deliverable

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