How to Keep Product Launch Stakeholders Engaged

How to Engage Your Project's Customers at Close-Out Time

New product launches involved many different functional groups, some of which may come and go as the project moves through its lifecycle. To keep everything on track along the way, you need to know that project stakeholders are giving the effort the right amount of attention. Even as other job duties pull your sponsors and project participants in new directions, there are some key communication strategies you can use to keep stakeholders engaged during your product launch project.

As soon as you begin working on the project, you should establish the communication channels you’ll use to connect with stakeholders and team members alike. Depending on your user base, you may want to lean on a company intranet, work in a shared collaboration platform, communicate through email, or use any combination of tools that makes sense.  You can then set up regular check-ins with stakeholders to keep them informed on project progress, using email updates, recurring group meetings, and on-demand progress reports.

Emphasize a focus on transparency across your entire communication strategy. You may need to maintain confidentiality around specific project elements, particularly when working with external vendors or partners. However, you should take steps to balance those needs with the value of keeping stakeholders informed of any issues or challenges that arise throughout the project. You’ll build trust and confidence with your team and the project’s supporters when everyone commits to a robust and transparent communication plan.

To avoid confusion or misunderstandings, use plain language whenever possible. Don’t assume your shareholders have a shared understanding of industry jargon—acronyms and technical terms can mean different things across discrete functional groups. The people developing the software for your new product might have a different set of terminology from those responsible for marketing it, for example, and these distinctions could easily cloud the messages you’re trying to send. Language that’s easy to understand helps to eliminate goal misalignments, mixed signals about deliverables and deadlines, and ambiguity around expectations.

With so many technology tools available to project teams, there’s no reason to restrict your communications strategy to conventional, text-based messages. Look for opportunities to provide information in ways that are easier to understand or that deliver a more compelling view of the project’s elements. Visuals—graphs, diagrams, images—are just the beginning. The inclusion of video product demonstrations or audio snippets from a product focus group can help stakeholders quickly understand even complex or nuanced information. It also helps to engage those project contributors who may have different communication styles and preferences.

The most effective communication strategies move data both ways. Along with pushing information out, your project team should also encourage stakeholders to submit their own information, provide feedback, and ask questions. When communications come in, be authentic in your response. Be receptive to critiques and suggestions. Don’t become defensive if your methods or decisions are questioned. You’ll get the best results with a collaborative and productive working relationship with stakeholders, so make sure the information sharing goes both ways.

Include successes in your communication strategy. Your team members and stakeholders will face many challenges along the way. They’ll need to work together to develop and implement solutions to keep the project moving forward. When their efforts are successful, it’s important to celebrate those wins in a collaborative way. From achieving key product launch milestones to solving difficult problems, recognizing those successes together helps to keep people engaged and motivated. It’s also a great way to showcase the value of diverse stakeholder groups, where experiences gained through different backgrounds and different levels of knowledge help to uncover new solutions to tricky problems.

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