One primary objective in project management is to create happy stakeholders. Whether it’s helping users do their jobs more efficiently or enabling the leadership team to increase the organization’s revenue levels, meeting and exceeding stakeholders’ expectations is a big part of the job. But project teams that leave it at that may end up missing opportunities for improvement.
Savvy Project Teams are keenly aware how important it is to maximize their relationships with satisfied stakeholders. They understand the power a happy end user or project sponsor can have over other customers, and they also know these same people are often instrumental in helping to identify which of the project office’s strategies are most effective and why.
If your project management team would like to reap greater rewards for its efforts, follow these 4 tips and start getting the most out of every satisfied stakeholder.
1 – Find out why they’re happy. Knowing where your team found success with stakeholders on each project will help you to achieve consistently good results on future projects, too. Were they pleased with the coordination around work disruptions? Did the Project Team shine when it came to soliciting users input on key strategic discussions? Was communication handled well?
Project surveys—those conducted while the project is still underway as well as the standard questionnaires distributed after a project is complete—are a good starting point. Whenever stakeholders indicate satisfaction, take the time to evaluate the team’s approach in those areas and determine which successful practices can be applied to other areas that may be receiving less-favorable feedback.
2 – Ask them where you can do better. In addition to pointing out where the project team has done well, satisfied stakeholders are also often able to provide very candid—and very useful—insight on where you have opportunities for improvement. Because sponsors, customers, and end users have different perspectives on a project’s activities and impacts than PMP®s usually do, suggestions may be unexpected, targeting areas the project team hadn’t previously considered as needing further upgrades.
Asking for this kind of targeted feedback is typically best done after the user surveys have been tallied, rather than as part of the survey itself. Identify where the survey results indicate a potential weakness and ask stakeholders for more information about those areas, remembering that soliciting specific feedback individually is usually the most effective approach. It allows stakeholders to discuss the details of where they felt efforts could have been enhanced or more finely tuned, or perhaps where activities were appropriate but expectations hadn’t been well developed.
3 – Enlist their help as project champions. Those individuals who already believe in your team’s ability to achieve project success are perfect candidates for the role of champion on the next project. Because they’ve experienced an entire project lifecycle—including the challenges and glitches—yet still saw achievables being reached in the end, they’re in a good position to help others do the same. These non-Project Team representatives are also useful because users and sponsors can more easily relate to them.
4 – Include them in your next open house. Satisfied stakeholders are a great addition to any project PR event. Consider giving them a high-visibility role in the next open house where they can tell others about what your team does particularly well. Maximize their participation by providing them with suggested talking point and any metrics or other data you feel would be helpful. Be sure you give them an opportunity to preview any graphics, photos, or other visual aids you plan to post in their area of the event so they can be prepared to discuss them.