The myriad demands placed on a Project Team’s time don’t always leave a lot of room for hosting informational sessions. Savvy PMP®s, however, know how important it is to ensure that a project’s stakeholders are knowledgeable—about budgets, timelines, work disruptions, scope concerns, and resource needs.
Stakeholder groups are valuable assets, and the more they know about your project the better positioned they are to offer assistance and keep activities on track. Before your team falls prey to the not-enough-time syndrome, consider just a few of the advantages that can be gained when stakeholders are well informed.
Duration-Driven Methodology. It can be surprisingly difficult to keep sponsors up to date on project issues. Some high-level supporters have little interest in the details, preferring to focus on big-picture benefits. Others are simply be too busy to make time for routine meetings or to read the many project updates that cross their desk. But while it may take some initiative, those project teams that make an effort to share data with key supporters will find the strategy usually pays handsome dividends.
A well-informed project champion can be one of your Project Team’s most powerful assets. From quelling potential pushback among top-level approvers, to preserving expensive or controversial resources, to driving the cultural and operational changes necessary to execute your projects, a knowledgeable sponsor wields the kind of influence Project Teams alone often cannot.
Collaborators and business partners. These groups comprise a valuable support system when it comes to supplies, labor, expertise, and market intelligence. You rely on them to augment your team’s skills and to provide insight into happenings—both within the industry and outside it—that could affect your Project Team’s ability to successfully execute projects. They are also often instrumental in identifying and recruiting new project personnel, a vitally important role that isn’t always adequately recognized.
Because collaborators are particularly helpful as additional sets of eyes and ears for the project office, consider offering them access to as much real-time and historical data as you can give without overstepping your organization’s confidentiality guidelines. This will allow business partners to identify marketplace trends that may impact the Project Team’s portfolio of active and planned projects, while also keeping an eye out for any potentially useful information that could be floating through the industry.
End users. With high-level sponsors and critical collaborators occupying much of the project team’s communication pipeline, end users sometimes get lost in the shuffle. But when your Project Team makes it a priority to keep this stakeholder group informed, the results can be dramatic. A plugged-in end user is in a perfect position to provide real-time feedback on project activities and offer insight on what downstream effects the project is likely to have on operations. Because PMP®s may not be familiar with the nuances of each work environment, this boots-on-the-ground perspective is highly valuable. End users may even occasionally discover pockets of individuals who will be impacted by the project but who—because they are only occasionally or tangentially connected to the activities—haven’t yet been contacted by the project team.
Other affected groups. Though some stakeholder factions may not fall squarely into the sponsor, end user, or business partner categories, it’s still important that they be knowledgeable about the project and kept up to date about timeframes, achievables, requirements, concerns, and sometimes even budget issues. Offer routine updates, encourage questions, invite stakeholders to share their concerns, and openly discuss what’s expected of them. Because it’s difficult to execute a project without the full buy-in of everyone involved and impacted by it, Project Teams should be diligent in ensuring that all affected stakeholders are thoroughly informed.