Project managers usually spend 70% 80% of their time communicating in one form or another. Information distribution must be "timely" and provide the "needed information." Both of these components are necessary for the message to be effective.
The work results (outcomes of project activities) and the project plan (document for project execution) are detailed in Chapter 4 of the PMBOK, and the communication management plan (the who, how, and when of project communicating) is described in Chapter 10.
The most common communication model, which you will need to know for the PMP exam, breaks down communication in terms of a sender, a receiver, and the message. The sender is the person providing the message, and the receiver is the intended recipient of the message. The message can be any of the following:
Tools and Techniques Associated with Information Distribution
The tools and techniques for information distribution include communication skills, information retrieval systems, and information distribution methods. The PMBOK elaborates further concerning the responsibilities and methodologies associated with the senders and receivers of information. It specifically states that the sender must provide information that is clear and complete. In response, the receiver must reciprocate by indicating that he or she understands the information completely. This can be done by restating the information or paraphrasing it.
Good communication skills can come in several forms, including speaking, listening, and writing. There is also a differentiation between internal communications, which involve communications with people in the project, such as other stakeholders and team members, and external communications, which occur outside of the project, including non-stakeholders or non team members.
The PMBOK also discusses formal communication, which may include structured plans and reports, versus informal communication, which takes the form of memos, notes, or short correspondence. Horizontal communication, which extends across peers, is contrasted with vertical communication, which flows up and down through the organization. You need to know all the various types of communication for the exam.
Information Retrieval Systems
Information retrieval systems come in a multitude of forms. One of the more cutting-edge technologies is the use of a database system and an FTP site to allow participants to download and upload information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by logging on through the Internet. This is frequently referred to as an electronic project management office (EPMO). Another technique includes the use of a manual project notebook, which is a repository for all documents, communications, status reports, and other various documents associated with the project.
Information Distribution Techniques
The last tool and technique for information distribution involves methods for getting the information to people so they can stay updated. There's no limit to how information is provided to the team and other stakeholders. Some common methods include the following:
Outputs from Information Distribution
Information distribution has only three project outputs, so they are relatively easy to remember: records, reports, and presentations. Project records is just another term for information and documents. Therefore, it includes any formal or informal documentation associated with the project. The PMBOK recommends that this information be kept in the project notebook.
The project reports include the team status reports, the deliverables, and the action item updates, which are formal documents associated with the project. These are different from records because they are strictly formal documents.
Project presentations involve a speaker or facilitator and the presentation of information in a formal or informal setting. These presentations comprise a key, frequent method for keeping everyone informed, and they encourage buy-in from the participants.