The PPRP Work Breakdown Structure
With a PPRP plan prepared in outline, the PPRP leader must obtain approval from the project's management. The PPRP should be part of the project's work breakdown structure (WBS), see Figure 1, with its own line item in the project budget. It is wrong for the PPRP to be left to an existing department in the enterprise as an added workload, lest it gets overlooked, or becomes secondary in importance to on-going operations.
The PPRP plan must be complete with detailed objectives, target dates to match the progress of the project, the resources required, detailed costing, and identification of performance measures.
Figure 1: The PRPP component of the project WBS
For example, a detailed set of PPRP objectives might look like the following:
- Develop and maintain a PPRP that ensures that timely, accurate, consistent, and relevant information is presented to the project's primary audiences.
- Develop internal project procedures that ensure the availability of accurate and consistent information that emphasizes the team approach.
- Establish a resource facility that monitors, researches, collects, and collates information as it relates to the project.
- Develop material that clearly explains the economic benefits of the project to business, labor, and others.
- Develop and maintain information packages, presentations, and events, including safety on the project, that show pertinent information to community groups, educators, professionals, school groups, and others.
- Identify and monitor milestones during the project and their impact on, or opportunities for, the PPRP.
- Establish news media contacts that keep key writers and editors fully informed, especially those who appear sympathetic toward the projects.
- Develop a community-relations program that responds to public issues and concerns relating to the project.
- Monitor and control the PPRP to ensure optimum benefit to the project.
- Develop a system of review and contacts that can provide an early warning about activities by outsiders that may adversely affect the project.
Each of these objectives is elaborated into a detailed task list. For example, Item 7 which suggests establishing and maintaining media contact, may require completion of the following tasks:
- Develop a telephone listing of local television stations, radio stations, news wire services, newspapers, local politicians, and other frequently called numbers.
- Develop and maintain news media mailing lists suitable for the circulation of project news releases, articles, or features intended for the audiences in the primary and secondary target areas.
- List names and addresses of elected representatives, administrators, and others who will receive project news releases.
- Schedule a series of contact meetings with key media representatives who have appropriate spheres of influence.
- Notify key project personnel who will attend such meetings.
- Hold a seminar to discuss the advantages of the latest technology incorporated into the project.
- Arrange to hold an open house when work on the project is sufficiently well advanced.
- See that notices go out in good time for maximum impact.
A PPRP effort is significant, especially for a large project with public involvement and sensitive issues. At critical times, or at specific locations, a weekly newsletter can be very helpful to inform local people of unavoidable temporary disruption. People are willing to put up with a lot more, if they know what is going on and that it is only for a limited time.
Key to the success of a PPRP is the constant garnering of majority opinion and adjustment of the program details for optimum effect. To a surprising extent, the project team's ability to exercise such positive communications can also have a significantly favorable impact on the team's ability to control the project's schedule and cost. If the project is a major one, especially if it is publicly funded, establishing such a program is essential.