We know that stakeholders are those individuals who are actively involved in our projects and/or have a valued interest in the outcome of those projects. To put it in other words, they are the individuals who will influence or/and be influenced by your project. However, if you’ve ever managed a project then I’m sure you know that even though those stakeholders may be involved in our projects or are interested – be it financially or otherwise – in the outcome or success of our projects, that doesn’t mean they will be involved or engaged along the way…even when it may be in their best interest to do so.
So, with these key and sometimes fringe individuals…how involved in the project do you want them to be? The answer really is….”it depends.” On what? On what they mean to the outcome of the project, what they mean to the project, and how much you need their input on an ongoing basis during the project. Here are some useful tips for getting them involved:
- Assign them tasks:The most obvious way to get stakeholders involved and keep them involved is to assign them tasks and keep assigning them tasks throughout the project. The key is to keep them accountable for project progress by continuous involvement on assigned tasks – and accountability for reporting task progress week in and week out. No one wants to be the resource who is holding up the project and reporting tasks progress to the customer.
- Status report them to death: You want stakeholders involved continuously? Never skip over them when reporting project status, budget status, change order information, issue lists and resolutions, and project schedule updates. By practicing this they will not have any excuses to not know what’s going on with the project and they will be update to date at all times (assuming they are following the information) and are ready to be involved and make decisions whenever is needed.
- Involve them in the meetings. On some projects stakeholders sit on the sidelines, get involved only at key points in the project or sit and judge as the project solution is deployed. If you want to keep your key stakeholders engaged during and throughout the project rather not at all or just sporadically, then make sure they are at the meetings. And I’m referring to the key weekly meetings with the project customer where the detailed project status is reported and discussed, where the latest issues are reviewed and addressed and risks are analyzed. This is where the project really meets the pavement and stakeholder involvement can be critical for key decision-making and forward progress.
- Make the project as visible as possible. Driven professionals want to be noticed. Or at least be involved in things that get noticed. So, you want your stakeholders to stay involved? Make the project as high profile as possible. It may not be a long-term project with a high dollar value that is mission critical to the organization – those get noticed no matter what you usually will not require any action on your part to get lots of attention. On those smaller projects you can still get your project noticed by presenting it to upper management at key milestones, including executive management on the status report distribution list, and putting out organization wide press releases at key points in the project. Those stakeholders that want notoriety will stay involved because you have now made your project a highly visible one in the organization. Summary
To summarize all – in order to best keep your project stakeholders involved, you need to keep them busy. That is a logical action on anything, but often times we get busy managing our project teams and we fail to take advantage of the skill set of our knowledgeable and experienced stakeholders. We may report status to them – often not all of them – but we overlook the fact that we can make use of their talents AND keep them engaged by following practices such as these that I’ve discussed in this article.
I believe that now you understand these terms; however, if you still have some doubts, write in the comment box. I am ready to discuss.
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