Do you know who said this?
“I had six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew.

Their names were: Where, What, When, Why, How and Who”?

You probably don’t know – but you’ll recognise his name. It’s Rudyard Kipling, author of “The Jungle Book”, now famous as a Disney film.
Rudyard Kipling’s saying can help you in Project Management. His basic questions “What, When, Why, How and Who” can guide you though the tangled jungle of project management communications.
Communications are important in Project Management – they can be critical to project success. Various analysts have highlighted poor communications as a major source of project failure, from the Standish Report of 1996 to the 2007 survey by COMPTIA.
Why is it so important to communicate? Firstly because many projects are cross-functional. Most organisations are functionally based – they are a series of functional silos. Things may work well insideeach silo, but projects need to work transversally, across the organisation (more than one silo) and they often need to work with partners outside of the organisation (more than one company). For a cross-functional project to succeed, you need rich, transversal communications.
Secondly, the project is a vehicle for change.People are naturally resistant to change; they are familiar with the current ways of working. Change is disruptive; there is resistance to change. For your project to deliver real change, you need to communicate to maximise buy-in and to minimise resistance.
As it is important to communicate, the project manager needs a communication plan. This is where Rudyard Kipling’s saying comes in.
We need our own Six Honest Serving Men to create a communications plan.
·  To whom? The stakeholder group who receive the communication
·  What? The message to communicate
·  Why? The objective of the communication
·  By whom? Who will create and/or deliver the communication
·  When? What frequency, or what date, or during which stage of the project
·  How? What channel of communication (email, face to face, meeting, intranet…)


To Whom?



By whom?



Entire project team

Initial objectives

Get involvement

Project Manager

Start of project

Kick-off workshop

Order management team

Training schedule

Ensure availability for training

Order Admin Manager

Start of stage 2

During monthly team meetings

Sales Force

New bonus scheme


Regional Sales Manager

At next Quarterly Meeting

Powerpoint with Q&A

Internal Audit

Process flowchart


Process team lead

For each new version

Process workshop







Creating the communications plan is the first step. Once that’s done, the next step is to put the plan into action – to use it to organise your communications, week-by-week, month-by-month.
For the project manager , creating a communication plan is useful investment of energy. It normally takes you only an hour or two to create an initial plan, and it will save you hours of sweat throughout the project. It helps identify your transversal stakeholders. And it helps you focus on areas of possible resistance, and how best to mimimise resistance.
A communications plan is a best practice approach. In the Prince2 project management method, it’s the basis of the project’s Communications Strategy.  In MSP, for programme management, there is a diverse toolkit, starting with a Stakeholder Engagement Strategy; passing by various Stakeholder Analyses; and finishing with a Communications Plan.
Whatever your method, get out of the jungle! Remember Kipling’s six honest servants and create a communication plan for your project or programme.
Written by Jeff on July 9, 2014 in blog
1 Comment
Casey Dale

July 11, 2014 @ 10:58


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