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Formal communications are important in your collaborative partnership network as a means to encourage and support continued communications that are required to maintain your network and partnerships.  Formal communication will keep the lines open and provide regular updates regarding progress and needs of the partners in your network.  The formal communications keep the lines open and the communications active and this is important to the success and long term growth of your network and partners. 

The formal communications as I’ve mentioned can be divided into two key types; maintenance of the communication, and focused or project based communications.  These two key types of communications themselves are focused on supporting two very different needs and objectives of the network.  The maintenance communications support the longer term overarching communications across the network and partners.  The focused, or project based, communications support the immediate needs of a project or initiative.  These two types are completely different and include completely different methods and tools to deliver their objectives.

The focused, or project based, communications type and methods follow the project management methodology practices you incorporate and agree to across your network.  These follow the communications of initiative status, risk management, change management and project schedule management.  Each of these types of communications have been generally accepted practices in project management methodology for a long time.  These practices must and will be incorporated in the projects and initiatives started in support of your network and partners.  The methods of these communications will be determined and agreed to in the initiation phase of the initiative.  These methods take on an added level of importance because of the nature of the participants spread across internal and external organizations.

Maintenance type communications are the plumbing, or the infrastructure, of the partnership network communications.  These communications methods maintain the open communications in a manner similar to newspapers, or magazine, or web publications in that the information is published for public consumption.  These methods of passive communications are important to provide information in a method that allows your partners to choose the time and the type of information they consume.  Another type of maintenance communications is events or conferences or conventions.  This type of maintenance communications is active and encourages the participation and support of the partners.  The event encourages participation of the partners through presentations of successful initiatives and new events and opportunities in the network. 

Formal communications provide the infrastructure and framework to support on-going and regular communications.  This type of communication is important to the maintenance of the collaborative network because of the planned and continuous nature of the communications.  This provides the regular updates and reminders of both the capabilities and the needs of your partners. 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

How do you incorporate the different methods of communication to support your collaborative network needs and objectives?  Do you have a formal maintenance communication plan that your partners have participated in developing?  How does the informal communications methods impact and support the formal communications?  Have you developed an evaluation plan for your communications methods, a type of continuous improvement process for your communication methods and communications plans?