Importance of Understanding Stakeholders, Politics, and the Project ContextMay 15, 2012
A formal project kickoff does not mean the entire team is 100% on board. That's why it's crucial to thoroughly understand the business context and politics affecting a project, and to identify any stakeholders who don't wish to change the status quo. Giving extra attention to these stakeholders and seeking their buy-in will help minimize risks or prevent failure altogether.
I was recently engaged on a financial services project that involved replacing a manual spreadsheet process with an online self-help platform. The benefits of the project were obvious: faster quote turnaround, more visibility into the sales pipeline, better workflow management, better outreach to sales prospects and increased profits and revenue.
However, the client stakeholder in charge of product development preferred adjusting facets of the product on the fly using Excel. In addition, he was concerned that the move to an online platform would result in longer turnaround times for product adjustments, slower reaction time to market fluctuations and a steep learning curve for the product team. Thus, the stakeholder was never aligned with the project. Worse, he never voiced his concerns to the project team, and his position ultimately allowed him to kill what could have been a valuable project.
Sometimes stakeholder issues cannot be overcome. Nonetheless, the only way to avoid such pitfalls is to spend time prior to project kickoff carefully analyzing the key players, their concerns and how the project will affect them. Whether or not their concerns are voiced, to ensure success it is critical to proactively reach out and address the worries of stakeholders that will be adversely affected by the project.
Topics: Application Lifecycle Management (2)