Even a team that’s on track for project success can become disheartened if the rest of the company isn’t behind them. Our project management consultants know how important it is for stakeholders to believe in your group’s ability to achieve good project outcomes, especially when the stakes—and visibility—are high.
Unfortunately, you may encounter instances when strong project performance isn’t enough to garner the support you want (and need) from sponsors and end users. It’s an issue your team needs to address early, since dependable backing from your organization is a core element of consistent project success.
If you’re concerned your stakeholders don’t have confidence that your initiative will succeed, consider if you’ve given them one of these reasons to worry the project could end up as a failure.
1 – You haven’t shown them data that proves you’re on track for success. Project teams often do a good job of cheerleading their project efforts, but that doesn’t mean you’re convincing the right people that your project is going well. Without presenting clear metrics that show your progress aligns with the plan—and updating the information regularly once you move into the execution phase—executives and others may have little reason to believe the good things they hear coming out of your team. Make project data available both on demand and by request, so it’s easy for everyone to see where your project stands. Be transparent with the data you give out and offer historical and benchmarking insights whenever possible. And provide clarity around metrics that may be difficult for non-project professionals to understand. You don’t want confusion chipping away at stakeholders’ confidence in your project’s outcome.
2 – You haven’t explained perceived budget issues. Your team might know, for example, that high resource consumption in the project’s early days is expected, but your stakeholders might not. Instead, they could find a steep spend curve troubling, leaving them worried your initiative will run out of money before it’s complete. Because funding is a metric commonly used to gauge project performance, your team should help educate stakeholders on the forecasted spend across the project’s lifecycle. Present data to help them understand the correlation between expenditures and budget depletion, and provide regular updates on how the allocated funding aligns with each phase of the initiative.
3 – Your interim milestones appear to be in jeopardy. Every project experiences a handful of delays, most of which are easily remedied within the project timeline by resequencing, compressing, or consolidating downstream tasks. However, if people doubt you can meet an upcoming milestone, they’re likely to assume things aren’t going well. Unless you can show them otherwise, some will interpret it as a warning that your project is off the rails. You need the tools and metrics to show stakeholders that your team is effectively managing activity updates and other developments through routine schedule adjustments, and quality data is the key to illustrating that your effort’s progress remains aligned with the master plan.
4 – You aren’t talking to the right people. Senior staff members and high-ranking sponsors expect to receive good communications and meaningful metrics from your project team, but you can’t let your engagement efforts stop there. Internal departments that support your initiative, outside business collaborators, vendors, and end users all have the ability to influence how much faith the enterprise places in your group’s ability to successfully execute complex and high-risk projects. Be mindful of the need to keep the full spectrum of stakeholders excited about your initiative and aware of how activities—particularly those that will affect their workflows—are progressing.