Communications Plan

For any organization greater than one person, communications is arguably the most critical internal function. The failure to communicate is likely the cause of many a department’s problem.

Accordingly, communication should not be left to chance. The IT manager should write out their communication plan and reference or include it in their staff operating principles. The primary component of the plan should be the identification of communication activities, the medium, and frequency, such as in the matrix below.

Communication item

Medium

Frequency

Change management Change app/email Constant
Incident/service management Service app/email Constant
One-on-one with manager In-person only Weekly/bi-weekly
Staff/team meetings In-person only Weekly
Project meetings In-person and dial-in As scheduled
Meeting notes/minutes Email/document As needed
Collaboration Collaboration site As needed
Informal quick text communications (live) Instant messaging Constant while at desktop
Formal communications w/ manager/team Email Constant
Meeting invitations from manager Email Answer upon receipt
Live voice calls during work hours desk/cell phone Constant while at desk
Live voice calls while working offsite Cell/home phone Constant
Emergency communications after hours Cell/home phone As needed
Performance review In-person only Semi-annually
Emergency communications to manager Cell/home phone Any time as necessary
Team internal bridge xxx-xxx-xxxx

Other components should include contact information for the team, location of collaboration space (e.g., fileshare, SharePoint site) and email distribution groups.

Finally, this document is an excellent place to include some pithy aphorisms related to communications. For instance, a pet peeve of mine is the direct who receives a request and may loyally begin carrying it out, but does not communicate receipt or agreement; thus I include something “acknowledge communications from your manager in a timely manner”. It’s always appropriate to include such items as “communicate professionally” and “ensure we communicate externally in unison”. Finally, it’s also good to define communications to leave no doubts on expectations – communication is the words one says or writes, the tone, the facial expression and the body language.