Communication Management - Knowledge Area

National Project Management System
Business Projects-IT-Enabled


Communication Management Knowledge Area


December 2010


This policy-related document is issued under the authority of the Deputy Minister, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).


This Knowledge Area is to be implemented in conjunction with the PSPC National Project Management System (NPMS) policy.


To describe the components and requirements of the NPMS as applied to the management of project communications.



Communications Management pertains to the systematic planning, implementation, monitoring, and control of project communications activities.


The purpose of the Communications Management Plan is to describe the methodology that will be used for managing communications within the project.

The Communications Management Plan is an output of the Communications Management process that details the specific communications products, events, recipients, timelines, frequency and other pertinent communications information. Project management deliverables can also be considered principal communications tools.

In most cases, Communications Management is a straightforward delivery-enablement process using a relatively standard toolkit. However, in major change and business transformation initiatives, communications and engagement may represent the main focus of the project and a significant proportion of the project work effort.


The objectives of the Communications Management process are as follows:

  • define the communications needs of a project;
  • conduct a stakeholder analysis to identify stakeholders, their roles, interests, how they will impact or will be impacted by the project, and develop a stakeholder management plan;
  • define required messages, appropriate media and channels, task assignments and timings for communications delivery that will enable the project to meet these needs; and
  • ensure that the right people receive the right information at the right time to meet their needs and to achieve project objectives.

Communications Process by NPMS Stage and Phase

Inception Stage

Communications Management within this stage is primarily concerned with the development of project documents, and coordinating and communicating approvals.

Definition phase

In this phase, projects conduct a preliminary assessment and document a business need or opportunity in the form of a statement of requirements (SoR) document. It does not outline a solution, however the SoR provides a general description of the problem or opportunity and how the initiative aims to address it. The SoR also includes recommended general lines of enquiry and potential benefits, and initial constraints and assumptions are itemized. The SoR requests that management provide seed funding for further analysis of the problem and complete project identification activities and deliverables. The SoR communicates to the responsible business line manager that a business need or opportunity exists which merits the investment of time and resources to investigate.

Identification Stage

Initiation phase

During the initiation phase, the Project Lead on the business side produces the preliminary project plan (PPP). The PPP contains a detailed set of activities and key deliverables; outlines key stakeholders, roles and responsibilities; project milestones, and timelines for the Identification Stage. The PPP provides a high-level view of the project.

Feasibility Phase

The feasibility report is produced in the Feasibility Phase. The aim of this report is to communicate the solution options and to narrow the list to those that are viable.

Analysis Phase

During the Analysis Phase, the Business Case and project charter are the core deliverables produced. In order to produce these deliverables and successfully complete the Analysis Phase, the Project Manager conducts several key communications management activities. These include:

  • identifying key stakeholders and their needs;
  • developing objectives and key messages;
  • defining information items; and
  • distributing information items to, and receiving information from the key stakeholders.

Effective communications ensure that the correct project go/no go decision is taken at the preliminary project approval (PPA) control point.

Identification Close-Out Phase

The purpose of the identification close out phase is to ensure an appropriate level of assessment, reporting, evaluation, hand-over exchange, administrative closure and communication has taken place for the Project Manager in the delivery organization to seamlessly proceed to the Delivery Stage.

In light of the PPA decision, obtained in the Analysis Phase, projects ensure that records prepared in this phase include archived emails, records of decision and other communications records.

Delivery Stage

Planning Phase

During the Planning Phase, the project develops the communications plan, which is normally a component of the project management plan. Completing the plan requires that the project team conduct the following sequence of activities:

  • identify stakeholders and their needs;
  • develop objectives and key messages;
  • define information items; communication methods, media and tools;
  • develop the communications plan that defines who will be communicated to regarding what, how, when and the resources responsible;
  • obtain approvals;
  • distribute information items; and
  • manage stakeholders.

The Communications Management Plan may be a standalone document in projects requiring significant business transformation or stakeholder engagement.

Note: In more typical Business Projects-IT-Enabled, Communications Management may be scaled back to a less formal but consistent process. The focus is on learning to understand the stakeholder audience and their needs, and on ensuring they get the information they need when they need it. It is also important to note that normally communications are a sub-function of the reporting, monitoring and control processes which cross all knowledge areas and product development

The details of the Communications Management Plan process are as follows:

Identify Stakeholders and their Needs

Stakeholder information elicited by the Project Manager during the project identification stage is further elaborated in the stakeholder analysis and results in a description of stakeholder roles and attitudes with regard to the project and their awareness of and commitment to project objectives and benefits. The Communications Manager defines high-level stakeholder information needs based on this analysis.

This stakeholder communications information is captured in the Communications Plan.

Develop Objectives and Key Messages

The Communications Manager begins to develop the project's communications content and material. The Communications Manager's first step is to develop communications objectives tailored to the project and to the communications needs of its various audiences. Key messages are developed for and tailored to the various audiences to address these key communications objectives. This information is captured in the Communications Plan.

Note: Key messages may be communicated through more than one communications item and delivered to more than one stakeholder. Project communications objectives may be met by more than one communications item.

The Communications Management process is illustrated in Annex A - Communications Management Process.

Define Information Items

Once the general information needs of all the stakeholders are identified and the key messages have been defined, the Communications Manager defines the specific information items and content that is required to satisfy those requirements.

The Communications Manager defines the attributes of each information item, and documents the information in the Communications Plan.

Develop Communications Plan, Methods and Materials

The Communications Manager uses stakeholder analysis and information captured in the Communications Plan to detail and refine appropriate and timely communications events and materials. Then communications delivery methods and materials appropriate to deliver messages are defined.

The Communications Manager develops appropriate communications materials to match the message, delivery methods, event and audience.

Effective message delivery normally means multiple channels and a certain degree of redundancy. Regular and predictable delivery is recommended. For some messages, just in time and just enough is also a good rule of thumb especially where reminders, invitations and announcements are required.

Design Phase

Sample Feedback, Revise Plans and Materials, and Obtain Approvals

The Communications Manager obtains a sample of stakeholder feedback in order to complete the tailoring of messages and products. This may be formal or informal. Feedback is used to refine the Communications Management Plan, the Communications Plan, key messages and communications materials. Message refinement is an ongoing, iterative process.

The Communications Manager obtains the Project Manager's approval for these deliverables. The Project Manager is responsible for obtaining client input and approval for the Communications Plan.

Implementation Phase

Implement Plan and Distribute Information Items

The project Communications Manager ensures that processes, procedures and resources are in place to distribute the right information items to the right stakeholders at the right time. This includes the ongoing delivery of messages, collection of any stakeholder input and feedback and lessons learned. Distribution also means providing communications support to other project management processes such as risk and change management. Any feedback and lessons learned will be used as primary inputs to updating communications messages, materials, plans and performance support materials.

The Communications Manager is responsible for distributing information in response to ad hoc requests. The stakeholder information and communications items will be continuously reviewed and updated throughout the project to ensure that communication efforts are focused on delivering only value-added information to those who require it.

Manage Stakeholders

Stakeholder management refers to managing relationships, stakeholder concerns and communications to satisfy stakeholder needs and elicit positive support for the project. The key inputs for stakeholder management are the Communications Management Plan, the Stakeholder Analysis and various project management, governance and gating processes.

Projects use a variety of communications tools and techniques for stakeholder management activities.

Delivery Close-Out Phase

Once the project is complete, the project team prepares the Close-Out document, including lessons learned, and conducts the administrative and contract Close-Out activities, documenting the process thoroughly. This includes archiving records of decision, and all manner of project communications and records of deliverables.


This Knowledge Area applies to all PSPC projects.

For projects carried out for and funded by other government departments (OGDs), the NPMS practices are to be applied in keeping with client approvals and governance, as per the Business Projects-IT-Enabled OGD procedure.


Communications Plan
A subsidiary document of the Communications Management Plan that details what will be communicated, to whom, why, how and when.
Communications Management Plan
As per the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®), this document describes the communications needs and expectations of the project; how and in what format information will be communicated; when and where each communication will be made; and who will be responsible for providing each type of communication. It is a subsidiary of the project management plan.
Stakeholder Analysis
Stakeholder analysis identifies the stakeholders that are likely to be affected by the activities and outcomes of a project, and assesses how those stakeholders are likely to impact the project.
PMBOK® defines stakeholders as the person or organization (e.g. customer, sponsor, performing organization or the public) that is actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by execution or completion of the project.
Stakeholders may include end users, business partners, customers, regulatory groups, suppliers, technology support, policy developers, technical developers, producers, testers, and maintainers. The stakeholder may be an internal or external party. Key stakeholders include the client/business line owner, project lead on the business side, and steering committee members.


All parties responsible for identifying required skill sets, developing the project Communications Management Plan are strongly encouraged to consult with other project leaders/managers and senior project managers when developing the Communications Management Plan.

It is also recommended that Project Managers and Communications Managers seek advice from technical experts and other Subject Matter Expert (SME)s within PSPC and consider historical information and lessons learned from similar projects within PSPC when developing and updating the Communications Plan and communications materials.

Project Lead (Business Side)

The Project Lead on the business side is accountable to the client/business line owner. The Project Director is the chief point of contact with the client/business line owner and the project steering committee. Consequently, the Project Director is the chief spokesperson for the project at the executive management level. Additional responsibilities include providing input into the project Communications Management Plan, the Communications Plan and specific communications drafted by the project for senior management.

Project Manager

The Project Manager is accountable for the overall communications of the project and is specifically responsible for the following activities:

  • ensuring that a Communications Management Plan and a Communications Plan are prepared;
  • ensuring adequate resources are available to implement the Communications Management Plan, such as personnel and tools);
  • approving the Communications Management Plan;
  • conducting the stakeholder analysis and managing stakeholders;
  • ensuring that all personnel are following the established Communications Management Plan; and
  • reporting on communications issues.

Communications Manager

Note: A specialized dedicated resource may be required to fill this role on larger projects. On smaller projects this role is filled by the Project Manager in the delivery organization.

The Communications Manager is responsible for the development of the project Communications Management Plan, the Communications Plan, all communications materials and the management of the communications processes.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • developing, implementing and maintaining the Communications Management Plan, Communications Plan, communications materials and tools;
  • managing the communications process;
  • ensuring that all project personnel are following the established Communications Management process;
  • reporting on the status of communications;
  • identifying and reporting Communications Management lessons learned;
  • collecting communications metrics when required;
  • preparing communications materials and/or delegating to project team members; and
  • managing the Quality Management process of project communications.

Project Management Team

The Project Management team is responsible for the following activities:

  • providing input into the Communications Management Process,
  • reporting lessons learned; and
  • collecting metrics when required.


Stakeholders are responsible for:

  • articulating their information needs;
  • providing feedback on the information they receive (timeliness, content); and
  • identifying and reporting lessons learned from the Communications Management Process.




Please direct enquiries about this Knowledge Area to the Director, Centre of Excellence, ITSB Project Delivery Office.

Annex A - The Communications Management Process

Communications Management Process

The following diagram describes the communications management process steps. Outputs are an updated Communications Plan, Performance Reports, Health Check and Presentation Materials.

Diagram - See link below for the long description.

A larger image and long description of this diagram - Communications Management Process, is available on a separate page.