Communication Planning


Series on Effective Stakeholder Engagement

By Lynda Bourne, PhD

Melbourne, Australia

To plan without acting is futile. To act without planning is fatal!

Communication planning is an essential element in crafting a communication strategy that will work to support the success of the project or other activity being managed. Inadequate planning may lead to problems such as delays in message delivery, the communication of information to the wrong audience, insufficient communications activities, and misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the messages communicated.

To avoid these problems and facilitate the development (and then implementation) of an effective communications plan people with the following knowledge and skills are needed:

  • Understanding the politics and power structures in the organization and the wider stakeholder community, including customers and sponsors;
  • Knowledge of the environment and culture of the organization and the key stakeholders;
  • Knowledge of the industry and type of project deliverable;
  • Knowledge of communications technologies;
  • Knowledge of corporate policies and procedures regarding security, legal and other requirements affecting communications.

Communication RequirementsBefore developing the communications plan, it is important to analyse the information needs of the project and its stakeholders. Sources of information used to develop the project communication requirements include:

  • Stakeholder information and communication requirements derived from the analysis of the stakeholder community and documented in the stakeholder register and stakeholder engagement plan;
  • Organizational charts (for the customer, the performing organisation and the project) and stakeholder responsibilities, relationships and interdependencies;
  • The range of technical disciplines, departments, and other specialties involved in the project;
  • Logistics of how many persons will be involved with the project and at which locations;
  • Internal information needs (e.g., when communicating within organizations);
  • External information needs (e.g., when communicating with the media, public, or contractors);
  • Legal and regulatory requirements (eg, mandated stakeholder consultations).

Based in this information, the project’s communication requirements are developed by combining the type and format of information needed with an analysis of the value of that information, and how the communication supports the project’s objectives. Project resources should be focused on communicating information that contributes to the success of the project or where a lack of communication can lead to project failure. Factors to consider during the planning process include, but are not limited to:


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Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project stakeholder engagement is by Lynda Bourne, PhD, Managing Director of Stakeholder Pty Ltd (Australia) and author of the books Stakeholder Relationship Management and Advising Upwards, both published by Gower (UK). Dr. Bourne is one of the world’s leading authorities on program/project stakeholder relations. See her author profile below.



About the Author


pmwj36-Jul2015-Bourne-PHOTODr. Lynda Bourne

Melbourne, Australia



Dr. Lynda Bourne is Managing Director of Stakeholder Management Pty Ltd – an Australian based company with partners in South America and Europe. Through this global network she works with organisations to manage change through managing the relationships essential for successful delivery of organisational outcomes.   Lynda was the first graduate of the RMIT University, Doctor of Project Management course, where her research was focused on tools and techniques for more effective stakeholder engagement. She has been recognized in the field of project management through her work on development of project and program management standards. She was also included in PMI’s list of 50 most influential women in PM.

She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) and a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society (ACS). She is a recognized international speaker and seminar leader on the topic of stakeholder management, the Stakeholder Circle® visualization tool, and building credibility and reputation for more effective communication.   She has extensive experience as a Senior Project Manager and Project Director specializing in delivery of information technology and other business-related projects within the telecommunications sector, working as a Senior IT Project Management Consultant with various telecommunications companies in Australia and South East Asia (primarily in Malaysia) including senior roles with Optus and Telstra.

Dr Bourne’s publications include: Stakeholder Relationship Management, now in 2nd edition, published in 2009, Advising Upwards published in 2011, and Making Projects Work, published in 2015. She has also contributed to books on stakeholder engagement, and has published papers in many academic and professional journals and is blogger for PMI’s Voices on Project Management.

Dr. Bourne can be contacted at [email protected].

To see more works by Lynda Bourne, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-lynda-bourne/