TOT 012:

10 Tips for Managing IT Project Stakeholders

John Barker
October 8, 2023
Read Time: 4 Minutes

Technology professionals have a tendency to be closed-loop when dealing with outsiders in other departments.  However, every IT project has partners and stakeholders that are affected. 

Here are 10 tips I use when dealing with stakeholders to keep the project humming along smoothly.

  1. Identify and Understand Stakeholders: Start by clearly identifying who the stakeholders are. Understand their roles, responsibilities, and how the project or strategy impacts them. Recognize their needs, concerns, and aspirations.

You will want to set up a chart called RASCI. 

Who is Responsible for completing tasks on the project?

Who is Accountable and has the ultimate control over the project?  (There can be only one)

Who is Responsible for helping the responsible team members?

Who is Consulted to give advice?

Who is Informed on the project and kept in the loop?

  1. Frequent Communication: Maintain open channels of communication. Regular updates, meetings, and feedback sessions ensure stakeholders are informed and involved throughout.

I suggest you use a tool like Slack, Discord, or internal communication software that everyone on the project has access to at the click of a finger.  This will limit the number of expensive meetings you will need to hold.

  1. Tailored Messaging: Different stakeholders will have varied interests. Tailor your communication to address the specific needs, concerns, or interests of each stakeholder group.

I suggest a pyramid approach to tailoring your messages.  The base of the pyramid will have the most granular detail of every task.  As you go up the pyramid and the leadership hierarchy, the level of detail becomes more broad. 

The top of the pyramid will be the least detailed.  Are you on schedule?  Are you within budget? Are there any identified risks?

  1. Transparent Reporting: Be transparent about progress, challenges, and changes. Even if there’s negative news, being upfront can build trust and prevent surprises.

Don’t hide bad news.  Report a problem as soon as it has been identified.  Anything that can affect the schedule or budget.  Create a culture where all the responsible team members know they can come to you.  Don’t shoot the messenger.

Things will go wrong. 

No plan is perfect.

  1. Involve them Early: Engage stakeholders from the start. Early involvement can result in valuable feedback that can shape the direction of the project or strategy.

You want to eliminate any major shifts in direction.  Scope creep is continually adding new features to a project.  This can turn very bad with schedule and cost overruns. 

 

  1. Facilitate Collaboration: Use tools and platforms that encourage collaborative work. This can include digital collaboration platforms, brainstorming sessions, or workshops.

Encourage feedback from all stakeholders.  Even those that are just kept in the loop. 

  1. Recognize and Value Contributions: Acknowledge the input and contributions of stakeholders. Recognizing their efforts can motivate continued involvement.

Your team will want to know that their efforts are valued.  Regular acknowledgment of their successes is valuable to keep your team happy and productive.

People want to know that their work means something.

  1. Training and Education: Sometimes, stakeholders may not be engaged simply because they don’t fully understand the project or its implications. Offer training sessions, workshops, or informational resources to bridge any knowledge gaps.

Reach out to people who should have been providing feedback but haven’t.  Silence can be deadly to the success of a project.

  1. Build Personal Relationships: While maintaining professionalism, try to build personal relationships with key stakeholders. Understand their personal motivations, challenges, and goals. Personal connections can foster trust and collaboration.
  2. Learn who can say ‘No’: On any project, there is usually a single person who can say yes (or majority of a board of directors).  I have learned the hard way that any number of people can say No.  Even if the owner has already said yes.

The owner and office manager of a client need to update their core IT infrastructure and major software tools.  The existing tool was old and hard to use. The only vendor that offered was unfriendly to work with.

At the 11th hour after all the planning and sign-off was just about to be complete, the lead secretary said no.  The owner didn’t want to upset her. The project was scrapped. There were 50 people this decision affected.

That’s all for this week.

               See you next Sunday.

               John.

That’s all for this week.

See you next Sunday.

John

Whenever you’re ready, there is one way I can help you:
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Click the above link, send me some details about your business, and schedule a zoom meeting.
Simple as that.

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John Barker

John Barker

John has over 25 years of technology experience and earned a Bachelor’s in Business Management & MBA.  He also holds CISSP and PMP certifications.

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