Selling Stakeholders on a Less-Than-Ideal Solution

We’ve already looked at ways to evaluate and select the best option when none of the choices are perfect. Now the challenge becomes convincing your stakeholders that you made the right decision, and that the end result will still be satisfactory and meet the project’s objectives. Below are some suggestions to keep everyone happy and looking forward.

Describe the options that were open to you. Stakeholders likely aren’t aware of how each option shaped up, so it’s often helpful to provide them with the details on where the solutions were lacking. Be sure, too, that they understand where your team had leverage to make changes (paying for expedited shipping) as opposed to where you were stuck with a solution as-is (lack of available materials due to legal restrictions). Sometimes all it takes is for a project’s key supporters to see how unattractive the other choices were to know you selected the right one.

Identify the factors you used to make the decision. Thoroughly explain what your team considered when making the final decision and what importance was placed on each factor. This will help to assure stakeholders that your criteria were sound and reasonable, and that their personal preferences might not rank highly when viewed in a wider context. Be sure to highlight budgetary restrictions, timing requirements, compliance or regulatory mandates, and anything else that had little (or no) wiggle room.

Explain how the solution will impact the project. Now is the time to lay out what effect your decision will have. Does the schedule need to change? Will low-priority objectives be eliminated in favor of supporting more important deliverables? Are users going to see different benefits at the end of the project than originally planned? Remember to emphasize those areas where the selected option didn’t have any negative effects.

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