Executing a project successfully requires that all participants in the effort—from the project team to sponsors to end users—work together. Everyone needs to have a common set of expectations and be moving toward a common set of goals. The feedback loop is an integral part of building and maintaining that alignment from a project’s inception through its completion. Unfortunately, teams are often so busy with project tasks that soliciting and evaluating feedback become lower priorities. If that sounds familiar, consider these four big reasons stakeholder feedback is important to your team.
1 – The feedback loop helps break down silos
Project teams must constantly work to overcome roadblocks when partnering with other teams, either within the same company or across different partner organizations. One common problem is the proliferation of silos, where individual departments and functional groups may not be accustomed to sharing information outside their perimeter. A well-managed feedback process can help break down those walls and facilitate better communication between stakeholder groups.
2 – Feedback enables you to address problems more quickly
By knowing where glitches are occurring right now, your team can focus on resolving issues while the project is still underway. This reduces the risk that problems will continue to proliferate and snowball, and you’ll be better positioned to avoid negative downstream effects in the near term, too. Learning about issues mid-project, such as intermittent equipment malfunctions—which appeared fine during initial inspection—or a lack of follow-up on a key software development question, also enables you to minimize costs since you’ll be able to implement a fix while the necessary vendors are still onsite or under contract.
3 – Asking for feedback encourages stakeholder engagement
Successfully maintaining the commitment and cooperation of stakeholders requires that conversations go both ways. Your team has a lot of information going out, including progress updates and work disruption notifications, and you need to be genuine in your commitment to listen to inbound messages, too. Soliciting stakeholder feedback helps strengthen that communication loop and demonstrates that your team values the input of others involved in the project.
4 – Feedback is critical for ongoing improvement
The best way to find out where you need to improve is to ask your stakeholders to tell you what isn’t working. If a sponsor reports that your team coordinator is slow to respond to questions, you’ll know there are communication issues that need to be addressed. When end users tell you they only received an hour’s notice before their work area was impacted by project activities, you can put measures in place to send out alerts earlier in the process. Future projects will benefit from the lessons you learn today and your stakeholders will have greater confidence that your team has the expertise to skillfully execute any complex or high-visibility projects that may be on the horizon.
When stakeholders take the time to provide feedback, it’s important that you derive as much value from their insight as possible. Reviewing incoming comments, questions, and suggestions as a group is a good way to begin and helps maintain strong engagement and a commitment to improvement within the core project team. Including your project management services partner in the feedback loop is also a great way to ensure that stakeholders’ input is utilized effectively. An experienced consultancy will be able to evaluate incoming feedback through an objective lens, helping you identify workable and efficient resolutions to any problems that have been highlighted. Their neutral perspective can also be useful in identifying ways to enhance your existing practices and processes to address concerns, improve communications, and fill any skills gaps.