Formal communication occurs in well-organized ways via well-established communication channels. These channels emanate from the project team’s organizational structure and communication plan. Formal communication also takes into consideration the project’s hierarchy—the map of project stakeholders and anyone else who is affected by the project. This type of communication is documented and flows between the informants and the receivers. It is, among other things, the basis for analyzing the project while it is still ongoing as well as after it is completed.
Formal communication channels take on one of two forms:
Vertical communication channels
Instructions are provided from the top down, according to the project hierarchy, and reports regarding execution or problems flow from the bottom up, through the same structure
Horizontal communication channels
These occur between managers with parallel ranks in the project's hierarchy, who are not directly subordinate to one another or between project workers from different departments within the organization or outside it who exchange information in order to coordinate work or arrive at decisions
In addition to the channels mentioned above, there are also external communication channels between those involved in the project and those affected by the project in the surrounding community. In this type of communication, the Public Relations system represents the project in the environment that is its host. Properly managing communications with the larger community is essential for minimizing external objections to the project on the one hand and for receiving information from external sources, on the other hand—both of which might well play significant roles in the success or failure of the project as a whole.
For a project to progress well, efficient formal communication channels must be created. These channels must also be maintained, regardless of the fact that a significant portion of project communications will actually occur in parallel, via informal channels.