Communications White Paper
The quality and effectiveness of the communication between the project and the stakeholder groups is a significant contributing factor to project success or failure. Communication is about sending and receiving messages, ideally controlling the interpretation thereof, and having some influence of subsequent actions. In a mySAP.com implementation,project communication refers to messages sent and received between the implementation project and the stakeholders. Communication seems best positioned within the Organizational Change Management (OCM) stream of activities. As with most OCM activities, it requires the support and assistance of both the business and the project team.
The Organizational Change Management team itself is responsible forthe management and coordination of messages ensuring they are clear and well targeted:
1. Creating and distributing messages
2. Creating and maintaining an open feedback loop.
3. Preventing contradictory messages.
It is important that the actual delivery of the messages, especially verbal or personal memo, is carried out by the sponsorship or leadership group rather than the OCM team.The objective is to minimize information that may lead to confusion and thus inefficient and ineffective behavior.
One of the key success factors of communication is the perceived credibility of the message. If the stakeholder groups perceive the information as important, informative and authoritative, it is likely to be accepted and acted upon. If, however, the information is perceived asbeing trivial, or information is unavailable, the risks of inappropriate behavior will increase. Appropriate behavior, of course, is critical for the success of the project, and thus communication tends to be directed toward a critical stream of activities, and usually cross-referenced against risks listed on the OCM plan. However, communication is not only a reaction to risks, it also helps identifyrisks that then require appropriate behavior. Again, there is a link to the OCM plan. Please note, that the detail of the communication approach, stakeholder analysis, and messages across the mySAP.com implementation phases, tends to require a separate communication plan which, of course, needs to be in line with the relevant activities on the OCM plan.
The Communications Process
While OCMactivities are highly dependent on the organizational and project requirements and conditions, there is one recommended process to collect and manage information towards a controlled communication effort. The process consists of three broad stages as shown in Figure 1. It is a continuous, evolving process, which impacts other processes such as sponsorship/leadership, team management andorganizational optimization.
The communications process is, itself, also impacted by the other OCM processes and, as a result, needs a detailed and sophisticated plan in its own right that is a subset of the overall OCM plan. As it is an integral part of the overall OCM plan it is used to mitigate the risks on the project and is subject to change to reflect the emerging and evolving risks. Typically theserisks might be:
• Lack of support for the project at the leadership level of the company
• Poor track record of success in the company at implementing significant projects successfully
• Unrealistic level of resource provided outside the project team.
Figure 1 – The Communications Process
The steps in the process are:
Create/Modify the Communications Plan
The first deliverableto control and manage communication is to create a communications plan. The plan needs to explain how communication is managed and monitored within the scope of OCM activities. Activities need to be risk-focused, need to allow for prioritization of mitigating activities (based on the severity of risks), and be linked to clear measurement of success.
In order to decide on the appropriate...
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