One of my favorite equations from the mighty PMBOK (probably because it’s one of the only equations I understood at first glance) is:


…where “n” equals the number of stakeholders involved in your project. This equation is used to determine the number of possible channels which exist between that group of stakeholders.

For instance, imagine you have eight people working together to deliver a solution to a for-profit college. Using the equation, we get:


…so in this scenario, there are 28 communication channels. In other words, there are 28 possible ways for the key messaging in your project to be either understood or misunderstood (a la proverbial “Telephone” game). If you’re more visually minded, here’s a graphic that illustrates:


image credit: Plan Communications Management Tools You Should Know for the PMP Certification Exam – For Dummies

This becomes extremely alarming when you are involved in a client-facing project. What if you don’t pay attention in a meeting, and then reach out to the client with false information? At best, this results in confusion. At worst, you could potentially be breaching the contract terms for your project.

I’ve seldom seen a project of only eight people or less. For example, one of my current project assignments has 30 stakeholders, which equates to 435 communication channels! And I know many of you are involved in projects with even more people involved, with complex SOWs and contract language to boot.

As project managers, perhaps our biggest value-add is the fact that we set up a Communications Plan to regulate the flow of communication throughout a project’s life cycle. Scheduled internal and external status calls, weekly executive reports, informal 1:1 meetings, agreed-upon standards for client communication, and other tools and techniques allow us to be plugged in to everything going on within a project’s universe.

In the absence of a Communication Plan, chaos reigns supreme. And the communication channels equation mathematically illustrates that potential for chaos in a beautiful way.


Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

Consider joining our LinkedIn Group to continue this conversation as well - CLICK HERE
We hope you will consider joining our Facebook Community as well.  Click on the image to your left to visit and join, or you can CLICK HERE




Reading this article qualifies you to submit a request for PDU’s from PMI.

This Article qualifies as follows:



For more information on registering your PDU’s with PMI – CLICK HERE


At Project Management for Today, we encourage conversation; agree with us or disagree with us, it’s all still knowledge, and we are here to share knowledge. Take a moment to add to the conversation by leaving a comment. It’s an opportunity to engage in the conversation!

If you believe in what we are doing, take a minute to share our articles on your social networks such as LinkedIn and other sites. Use the buttons on the left side of the page.

This article features content from a “Contributing Author” to the Project Management for Today Community. This content is published on this site with the author’s explicit permission. As with all articles on this site, this article is protected by copyright. If you are interested in becoming a Contributing Author to this site, you can learn more by reading the information HERE


You may republish this article in whole or in part with attribution to the author and a direct link back to the full article on this site. Attributions MUST include a hyperlink to the original article, as well as a "Canonical Link" reference embedded in the <head> section of the page.
#pmfortoday / #projectmanagement / #pdu / #pmi / #pmo / #pmbok / #pmblog / #pmoblog / #pmp / #pmi-acp / #pgmp


Justin Scoville

Justin Scoville

Contributing Author

Justin Scoville's unique adventures in project management have spanned international volunteer opportunities in Mexico and Israel, complex government grant programs, and more recently education technology implementations in the private sector. Proudly bearing the battle scars of initiatives both small and large, Justin enjoys exploring the frontiers of project management, particularly its intersection with process improvement methodologies, strategic planning, and product management.


Joining as a contributing author has turbocharged my personal brand. Publishing articles on the site has easily doubled or tripled the amount of page views I would garner on my own, and those numbers are trending upward as the site continues to grow. As a author, I've been able to tap into networking opportunities both internally at my company and externally with other professionals that I never would have had otherwise. For anyone looking to gain recognition for project management expertise and join an amazing community of PMs, joining is a no brainer!


LinkedIn Profile - CLICK HERE
LinkedIn Group - CLICK HERE 
Articles by Justin Scoville - CLICK HERE

Advertisements B