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Module 2: Commencement and Collaboration – Putting Ideas Into Practice

6.3 Communication, record keeping, and decision-making processes

Successful project management relies heavily on establishing, maintaining, and managing stakeholder relationships (as discussed in Topic 1). These relationships must be managed with good communication strategies that minimise the possibility of things going wrong. Consideration should also be given to the options available for dispute/conflict resolution.

In the initial stages of the project you will need to identify processes for the collection, storage, and dissemination of information. You will also need to communicate with all stakeholders and collaborators to determine which stakeholders need information, when it is required, and the format it will be delivered in. The correct, consistent, and timely flow of information is vital to the success of any project and research team.

The communication strategy and plan should be developed based on stakeholder expectations and relationships – at both operational and strategic levels. The plan should include type, level, objective, and frequency of the communication, who should communicate and to whom (including email CCs), and timelines. The plan that you develop at the commencement of your project should be reviewed and updated regularly, allowing the information to be kept current for any new collaborators/stakeholders.

The following table provides an example of a simple communication plan. The first row has been completed to give an idea of what sort of communication events may be required by particular stakeholders/collaborators.

Stakeholder Communication objective Type of communication Frequency Level of communication Individual(s) responsible
Funding agencies

Demonstrate project progress for continued funding

Progress Report

Annually

Scheme/Project Manager

Research Leader

Research Managers/Administrators

 

 

 

 

 

Ministerial

 

 

 

 

 

Assessors and Reviewers

 

 

 

 

 

Auditors

 

 

 

 

 

Collaborators – Industry (business development, legal, academic)

 

 

 

 

 

Collaborators – Academic (inside institution, outside of institution)

 

 

 

 

 

Internal administration – host institution and other institution – Executive

 

 

 

 

 

Internal administration – host institution and other institution – Administration

 

 

 

 

 

Internal administration – host institution and other institution – Legal office

 

 

 

 

 

Internal administration – host institution and other institution – HR

 

 

 

 

 

Internal administration – host institution and other institution – Finance

 

 

 

 

 

Internal administration – host institution and other institution – Marketing

 

 

 

 

 

Project staff and students

 

 

 

 

 

Australian community – Taxpayer

 

 

 

 

 

  

If you would like your own copy of this table, you can download it via one of the following links:
Communication plan (Word file)
Communication plan (rtf file)

Reflective activity

Take 10 minutes to reflect on your current research project in terms of stakeholder communication. Identify any groups that you feel are not getting the level or frequency of communication they need.

Reflect on your own communication skills. Which group of stakeholders in your current project is the group you find most difficult to communicate with? What additional skills might help you deal with those stakeholders? 

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