If you work in project management, you’ll no doubt hear the word ‘stakeholder’ bandied around almost constantly; managing them, informing them, being them! So, why is understanding stakeholders so important for project success?

The definition of ‘stakeholder’ for digital transformation projects can be very broad, including the owners of an organisation, its board members, managers, on-the-ground staff, and end users, governmental bodies, and more. It’s easier said than done to get all these different stakeholders on board and fully engaged, as many of them will have different wants and needs, and to some, the ideal project outcome may look very different.

Thankfully, this is somewhere Reed Professional Services can help. We’ve completed complex digital transformation projects with the BBC, DEFRA, and Barclays to name just a few. Project success often hinges on cultural acceptance of a new normal, so we see stakeholder engagement as a mission critical part of project delivery.

Our Approach to Stakeholder Engagement

Our drive towards stakeholder engagement begins with a thorough understanding of the brief, the organisation, and its staff. We meet with project owners to determine the project requirements and outcomes, then begin mapping out how the project fits into and will affect organisational structure. If no thorough organisational process map exists, we may undertake a full process mapping and modelling exercise, as doing so can minimise disruption down the line and reduce the risk of unforeseen issues. The aim at this stage is to understand who will be impacted by the digital transformation project and how they currently work, giving us our complete list of stakeholders.

With a thorough understanding of the organisation in hand, we begin stakeholder engagement in earnest. The exact nature of this engagement changes on a case-by-case basis (there is no one-size-fits-all solution) but almost all projects involve some level of:

Stakeholder meetings

We meet with people from different stakeholder groups to make them aware of the changes the project will bring and how they’ll be affected. This gives them the opportunity to raise any issues they might have and ask for clarification of anything they’re unsure of.

During these sessions, we tend to get a more thorough understanding of the needs and wants of different stakeholder groups. Senior members of staff might be more focused on understanding how the digital transformation project will help fulfil company objectives, while on-the-ground staff might be more concerned with how the project will affect their day-to-day work. All of this should be kept in mind when designing a project approach.

Internal communications

Whether through internal newsletters or other means, it’s important to keep stakeholders (even those that aren’t project owners) abreast of project progress. This should be two-way communication wherever possible. It’s key to make sure everyone knows why a change is being made and what the benefit to them will be.

Senior stakeholder reporting

It’s imperative to keep senior stakeholders and client project owners informed. This allows them to track and steer project delivery as necessary, and plan their own work accordingly.

Keeping stakeholders engaged throughout the delivery of the project makes them feel a sense of ownership of the project’s outcomes, though, of course, it’s RPS that takes full responsibility for the delivery of the project. Generating that sense of ownership is crucial in bedding in new workflows and cultural practices.

Coaching and Knowledge Transfer

In the later stages of a project, we engage in coaching and knowledge transfer exercises (including workshops) with relevant stakeholders. We ensure they have a thorough understanding of any new processes and ways of working, and make them familiar with any required documentation. We aim to leave an organisation’s employees with greater capability than when we started the project, even with the ability to engage in future digital transformation projects themselves.

If you’d like to find out more about our approach to stakeholder engagement in digital transformation projects, please get in touch.

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