11 essential elements of a communication plan

April 11, 2018

communication plan template

I’m a strong believer that communication is one of the vital ingredients for any successful implementation and deployment of a Business Intelligence, Data Governance or overall Data Management program.  Your Business Intelligence, Data Governance or Data Management strategy should have a communication plan as one of its deliverables. If you haven’t done one already or you don’t know how to get one started, don’t worry,

I’m offering a free communication plan template towards the end of the article, to get you started

Now let’s go over the 11 essential elements every communication plan should contain:

1.Program phase/ project name: Remember that a program is ongoing, without an end date and so to create a single communication plan for it becomes unwieldy. Even if this can be a living document, there are no benefits on keep adding entries to the same plan 5, 10, 15 years after you’ve started the program. That’s why I recommend having a communication plan for each of the program’s phases (ex: the pilot phase) or its different projects.

2. Author: The document’s author is usually not only the individual tasked with putting the plan together (most of the time it is the Project Manager), but also the one responsible with its maintenance

3. Last updated date: This can be a living document and for that a version control can be captured through the last updated date field.

4. Audience: Identify the intended audience for the communication. This can be an individual, or a specific unit or department. If your audience is even broader such as “the end users of a data quality report”, you need to ensure there is a clear way to identify them easily.

5. Message: Summarize the key content of the communication.

6. Objectives: Describe what the communication is expected to achieve. This can sometimes be tricky to fill in, but I recommend always including it as it clarifies the purpose and importance of the message.

7. Medium: State the means of delivering the communication. This can be through a presentation, video, email, team meeting, one-on-one meeting, etc.

8. Creator: Identify the individual(s) responsible for putting together the communication, including the content, graphics, etc.

9. Timing/ frequency: Note when this communication should be delivered. It could be relative to another deliverable, or an agreed-upon start date. Also note if this should be a one time only communication, ad-hoc or have a specific recurring frequency, such as for status reports.

10. Spokesperson/ Envoy/ Messenger: Identify the individual responsible with communicating the message. Most of the time it should only be one person, but certain presentations or recordings might include several.

11. Feedback mechanism:  Describe the mechanism through which the communication’s audience can address questions and have follow-ups with you. This could be via email, messaging board, survey, one-on-one, an online form, etc. The whole communication plan is meant to get your message across, but also create bi-directional discussion and stakeholder engagement.

Free template:

communication plan template

With a solid communication plan, you can keep stakeholders informed of your program’s road-map, progress and successes, fostering executive buy-in and ongoing commitment and engagement from everyone involved.

What do you include in yours? Do you find it useful?

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About the author 

George Firican

George Firican is the Director of Data Governance and Business Intelligence at the University of British Columbia, which is ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world. His passion for data led him towards award-winning program implementations in the data governance, data quality, and business intelligence fields. Due to his desire for continuous improvement and knowledge sharing, he founded LightsOnData, a website which offers free templates, definitions, best practices, articles and other useful resources to help with data governance and data management questions and challenges. He also has over twelve years of project management and business/technical analysis experience in the higher education, fundraising, software and web development, and e-commerce industries.

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