One of the biggest risks to web project success is misaligned stakeholder goals and expectations. Keeping multiple stakeholders content during a project can result in delayed timelines, endless revisions, and potentially a project that doesn’t get launched.
As difficult as it can be to manage all of their priorities, stakeholders are vital to the success of a project. Stakeholders have priorities that will push the organization forward with good intent. Yet every stakeholder will likely not get everything they want on a new website project.
Some stakeholders will be involved at different points of the project requiring you to catch them up to speed while managing their expectations. Managing stakeholders doesn’t have to be unenjoyable though. After all, we all want to be a part of a successful project that moves the needle for a company.
We’ve outlined 3 successful ways to overcome stakeholder challenges below. Relying on a tool such as SimpleStage to wrangle in design feedback, content, and bug reporting will create a central source of truth for all stakeholders to reference.
3 Ways to Overcome Challenges While Managing Stakeholders
1. Identify the internal project owner
It’s crucial that your client has an internal project owner sometimes referred to as your “primary point of contact.” Beyond being a point of contact, the internal project owner’s focus should always be on the success of the project. Large projects such as a new website build require a significant investment of time and attention on the client side. The internal project owner helps facilitate the review of all materials internally and gathers all of the necessary information you’ll need to keep the project moving forward.
Without this role, you’ll be working with somebody who is taking on the management of this project alongside their already full workload. They’ll be slow to respond to emails and you’ll get the feeling like you are burdening them whenever you reach out. Internal project owners take into account each stakeholder’s highest priority so that the end result meets the holistic goals of the company.
2. Hold individual stakeholder interviews and come to a consensus
Project stakeholders need to feel like they have a voice and a seat at the table during a creative project. There lies the tension between each stakeholder’s wants versus what needs to happen for the project to be successful for the entirety of the company. A productive means of combating this is to conduct stakeholder interviews that map each stakeholder’s priorities.
You can do this in the form of a survey or workshop. From there, create a list of the top 3 most important things each stakeholder values most. After you interview each stakeholder, combine each of their top priorities and hold a meeting with all stakeholders. Allow each stakeholder to share their top priorities and rationale.
It’s important that all stakeholders are aware and bought in on each department’s goals for the project. The final output of this meeting should be a document all stakeholders have agreed are the primary objectives for a successful end result.
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3. Bi-Weekly Project Status Meetings
Holding bi-weekly project status meetings focusing on the high-level updates about the project prevents stakeholders from wondering where the project is at in the creative or development process. There is an art to staying proactive with communication while not being overbearing.
Meeting bi-weekly is a healthy pace, because there will likely be major developments in the website build process to review with stakeholders. It’s very important that stakeholders are receiving the same information. Things go awry when information is held from certain stakeholders.
Follow up each bi-weekly meeting with an email digest that contains all items discussed and next steps to keep a consistent record for stakeholders to refer back to as well as documentation for those who were unable to attend for them to review.
It can seem like an impossible task to manage multiple stakeholders without the right processes and tools in place. Determining the internal project owner at the onset of the project allows you to have an internal advocate that keeps the project moving forward. This person will keep stakeholders aligned during the lifecycle of the project.
Your ability to get stakeholders to work together and define their priorities will show that you care about their needs while also helping them realize that not every idea they have will fit into the go-to-market requirements the company has. Consistent updates with the stakeholder team in the form of bi-weekly calls will hold their attention throughout the process to make sure you as the agency have what you need and the stakeholders feel in the loop. Lastly, an all-in-one stakeholder collaboration tool such as SimpleStage will serve as the platform stakeholders and internal project owners need to keep feedback organized.