If you were planning a surprise birthday, you would want to make those involved knew all the details and updates to make it a great event, right? It may sound simple, but the same goes when delivering a successful project. While kicking those goals and being focused on the tasks and deliverables at hand, you want to ensure your Stakeholders stay engaged and supportive of all your efforts. Through the delivery of a large business project this becomes even more important with a wide Stakeholder base with very varied wants and needs. Most projects will include multiple stakeholders, with each of them potentially being able to either improve or decrease project progress. Stakeholders can be key to removing road blocks, assisting to drive and embed change, and ultimately deeming your project a success.
Here is how you can achieve this:
1. Establish your stakeholder base Before initiating engagement with stakeholders, gain an understanding of who you will need to support the project, both internal and external. It is also important to understand the needs of each area and what are their success criteria.
2. Have a plan A plan allows all stakeholders to understand their role and what is expected of them. A great way to do this is to setup a RACI matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed). This document supports a common understanding. This can be as simple as a basic MS Excel sheet, or more complex if required.
3. Communicate often When people don’t hear, they can expect the worst. Keep all stakeholders informed regularly through reporting, updates via shared platforms (i.e. MS Teams) or face to face meetings. The key is to keep this up regularly and communicate the frequency. Face to face meetings could be daily standups, checkpoints or ‘showcases’ to promote progress to date. It is important to keep that focus, while keeping all identified Stakeholders informed.
4. Build key relationships Keep your stakeholders involved. This is possible through gaining feedback, asking questions and seeking their subject matter expertise. For key stakeholders, also ensure you establish who needs to sign off on deliverables or outcomes (this can be recorded on the above mentioned RACI). The more involved in the project a stakeholder is, generally the more engaged and supportive they are.
5. Address issues early If you become aware of concerns or issues (even if raised indirectly), it is best to understand the root cause early so you can put an action plan in place. You can then maintain that great stakeholder relationship and trust you have been building! While there are many approaches and methods to successfully engaging stakeholders, the above steps assist in providing a good foundation and starting point for your future projects and if you’re looking for professional services to support your project delivery and stakeholder management, contact Starboard IT to find out what we can do for you.