Developing a communication strategy that meets the needs of all project stakeholders can sometimes be a challenge. When it comes to technology and digital transformation initiatives, the communications piece of the puzzle becomes even more nuanced due to the wide variety of stakeholders and their diverse requirements and expectations. Keeping everyone engaged and informed takes some planning, and your approach may need to adjust as the project progresses.
To craft a communications strategy that’s comprehensive and dynamic, it’s helpful to understand the different stakeholder segments within your technology project. Each group is likely to have their own set of wants, needs, and expectations.
Your users are on the frontlines of any digital transformation project, but sometimes they’re only minimally involved in the planning and execution phases. Because this stakeholder group is often the most affected by technology changes, ensuring robust communications between the project team and end users is essential to project success. Information directed at end users should include guidance on anticipated changes to their daily workflows, as well as education to help them maintain good data security practices as they transition to the new platform. End users need a communications channel back into the project team so they can share any issues such as bugs or other glitches they experience during the implementation phase.
When shaping your communication strategy, take end users’ primary interests and close proximity to the project’s effects into consideration. Provide them with timing details for each stage of the initiative at a level of detail that’s useful for them. That includes training sessions, deadlines to prepare existing datasets for migration to the new system, cutover dates, and when they should expect to lose access to sunsetting systems and related components.
Sponsors and executives
Your top-level champions and supporters are sure to be interested in planned timing for key milestones and project deadlines, but they’re likely to have an even greater interest in your digital transformation initiative’s financial metrics. A preferred communication strategy for this stakeholder segment often includes more frequent—and more detailed—progress updates to ensure senior staff have visibility into spend forecasts and any work disruptions that could affect the organization’s production levels or other revenue drivers.
In addition, your plan should include two-way communication channels so sponsors and executives can request information as needed. If your project team provides on-demand access to project and portfolio data, be sure to educate your leadership team on how to use the system. This increases transparency across the project’s lifecycle and allows senior staff members to maintain awareness around elements such as the status of deliverables and the rate of return on the company’s technology investments.
Vendors and collaborators
There’s a lot of external coordination that happens during technology projects. For example, vendor scheduling needs to follow an established sequence when it comes time to decommission legacy services and systems. If activities occur out of order, you run the risk of terminating users’ access to existing technologies before the new platform is ready or deleting data before its migration to the new solution is complete.
Given the wide variety of external partners that may be involved, it can also be useful to include a document-sharing component within your communication strategy. Unifying information such as drawings, quality assurance data, software test results, and other project metrics into a single system that’s accessible to outside vendors can be a huge benefit. It reduces the risk that a collaborator may inadvertently use an outdated version of a document, plus it ensures that information can be shared quickly if updates are made to the project’s reference materials.