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A Strategic Guide with insight from THE CENTER FOR DIGITAL GOVERNMENT

Developing a Communication Plan

A communication plan, both internal and external, is vital for success and should be used and updated throughout the process. Communication must begin at the onset and is a three-way line of extension; the lines of com- munication should extend all the way down to the employees, all the way up to the elected officials and executive members, and all the way out to the citizens. (See “Communication Vehicles to Use” sidebar.)

Topics to discuss include:

  • People: Outsourcing is often a people issue. Rumors and informal communica- tions will begin as soon as the project is initiated. Employees will have significant concern about their careers and employ- ment and should be told that retaining jobs is a top priority. Union concerns need to be met, as well, since they view out- sourcing as a reduction in resources. Once the transition to outsourcing begins, it is important for managers to communi- cate the vision and business goals to edu- cate and evangelize benefits to the organ- ization.

  • Outreach: Public hearings should be held so that the citizens are aware of the outsourcing project and its opportunity and value to the community. This will allow leaders to address concerns. Minneapolis’ CIO focused on educating as many stakeholders as possible to gain acceptance for outsourcing. The CIO developed a communication plan, held public hearings, educated the council members, and built a business case to sell the idea successfully.

  • Government – Vendor Communications: Throughout all phases, the organization and vendor should build a positive relationship. Both should share their views on the scope of the contract and how performance will be measured. The city of Chicago’s CIO looked at the vendor- government relationship as a marriage.

Both the vendor and government entity needed to view the relationship as a long- term partnership.

  • Implementation: Outsourcing is about change and the way the organizations manage change. Communication is required to introduce new processes and procedures. The organization’s and the outsourcer’s employees should be educated on how the outsourcing activity will proceed and how the relationship will have a positive impact on their area of responsibility.

  • Expectations: As expectations for services, transition and management processes are established, these should be communicated to employees, executives and citizens. For example, outsourced help-desk functions bring efficiency to end users, increased customer service and extended hours of service.


Communication is important for buy-in and managing expectations. Communication should begin at the onset of the outsourcing project and continue throughout the life of the contract for maximum effect. Some communication vehicles for informa- tion dissemination include:

  • End-user surveys to citizens and city/county officials to see how satisfied they are with the services.

  • Newsletters to provide a consistent message to the organization’s and vendor’s employees to promote team- work, describe department’s business operations or answer questions.

  • E-mail blasts to discuss benefits of the outsourced services and more.

  • Monthly or quarterly reviews with the vendor to look at level of performance.

  • Web site to publish dashboard on performance metrics.

  • Brown-bag lunches to facilitate information discussions about the outsourcing relationship.


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