Search This Blog

Loading...

18 April 2008

BA Communcaitions - The Benefits of Good Communications

What are we expecting to achieve through a disciplined and proactive approach to communications?

The primary roles of BOKs seems to me to be to;
(a) increase practitioner effectiveness in delivering successful projects and
(b) create a common language to enable practitioners to move from company to company –standardising the environment so your skills are more useful in more places.

The first objective is clearly stated and promoted, the second less so, and probably declines as a visible objective over time until it becomes implicit rather than explicit. So a BA Communications Knowledge area should be focused on these two dimensions; Increasing practitioner effectiveness and creating a common language

Increasing practitioner effectiveness
  • Know expected outcomes from communications activities
  • Know the accepted practice for what to communicate, to whom, when, how and why
  • Know typical traps in communications and how to avid them
  • Map communications activities to overall work activities to provide context
Creating a common language
  • Defining and explaining key terms
  • Providing templates for messages
Know expected outcomes from communications activities
The key outcomes for a BA are successful implementation of a system, process or other project outcome that enables the flow of business cased benefits.

Along the way there are more incremental outcomes such as consensus on the business problem or opportunity, on the right solution approach, on the details of the solution, on it’s implementation and how it will be actually used.

There are also some optional outcomes depending on the project type; such as agreement on how the solution will be validated, how it will be rolled out to user groups and so on.
Lastly there is the provision of subject matter expertise to the various people who need it, particularly the solutions team as the construct the actual solution.

Map communications activities to overall work activities to provide context
There is room in a BOK to provide a table of required and optional communications activities mapped against generic project lifecycles. There may be a tendency to focus on SDLCs but it might be a better idea to look at communications activities mapped against the BABOK knowledge areas.

I’Il come back to this topic a little later in this discussion. Feel free to throw me your ideas in the comments.

Know the accepted practice for what to communicate, to whom, when, how and why
This step involved taking your communications map of the process you are following and overlaying it with the people you are going to communicate with, and highlighting the key messages and issues you will face when communicating to them.

It might also describe the format of communications, and the cycle or triggers for communications events.

It could also elaborate on the reasons why these are described as good practice, as there is a significant body of knowledge in communications anyway.

Know typical traps in communications and how to avoid them.
Each project is unique but personality types seem to be recurring. Some modelling to highlight risk areas for communications and strategies for dealing with these risks might be useful.

Tips might include; Stakeholder Analysis, Complexity Analysis, ascribing default modes to different organisation types (such as formal and informal), etc. (A CYA section may be useful.)

Defining and explaining key terms
This can be an outcome, but it’s also a task. The outcome is that you have a language that is as clear as possible across your project community, and that you have a language that you can use when travelling across companies and industries.

One we are speaking the same language we are able to more quicly come to the issues and address them.

Providing templates for messages
Templates would be a great resource, especially for new practitioners, as they provide a checklist of things to consider when publishing documents or sending out messages.

The disadvantage of templates is that it encourages the lazy practice of filling out forms without considering the content.

So maybe I am not sure of the appropriateness of templates. What do you think?

Picture by Splorp at Flickr