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Strategies for stakeholder engagement

Par Nezha EL GOURII Publié le 24/10/2016 à 17:58:07 Noter cet article:
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Introduction

The commitment levels of the various stakeholders can vary. Stakeholders may show a high level of engagement throughout a project. Or you may have to deal with stakeholders who are reluctant to commit, or who are enthusiastic only at first, becoming less so as a project progresses.

A lack of stakeholder engagement can result in delays, for example, with uncommitted stakeholders failing to review features or making vital decisions too late and compromise a project's overall success

Reasons why stakeholders miss their commitments

Stakeholders may lack commitment for various reasons

Benefits aren't explained :

If the benefits of stakeholder engagement aren't explained, it can be difficult for stakeholders to know why they should participate in a project. Also, as a project progresses, stakeholders may forget about the benefits because they're overwhelmed with work.

Many stakeholders work on multiple projects, or work on a project in addition to their normal activities.

You should identify the benefits of being involved for each stakeholder during the initiation phase of a project. You can then communicate these to motivate stakeholders during the rest of the project.

For example, you might motivate domain experts to respond to content queries by explaining that their timely input will prevent the need for major reworking of a product at a later stage.

Stakeholders aren't accountable :

If stakeholders aren't held accountable for participating in the development process, it's likely they'll continue to disengage. For example, if a project leader ignores a product owner's failure to adjust the priorities of user stories after a review meeting, it's likely the development team will suffer delays and the project's release date may be missed.

Criteria or processes are poorly defined :

The product owner and the customer use acceptance criteria to determine if the requirements outlined in each user story have been met. The project team formulates testing processes during a project's initiation phase. These specify how the customer can test results after each iteration.

If acceptance criteria and testing processes are poorly defined, the customer may become frustrated and less willing to review the next iteration's result.

No trust exists :

Stakeholder engagement depends on good working relationships between everyone in the project community. In turn, these relationships depend on trust. If there's little trust between developers and other stakeholders, they're less likely to communicate openly.

This can prevent developers from fully understanding stakeholders' requirements, and from learning of and adapting to changes in these requirements.

Tools are inadequate :

Inappropriate tools prevent or discourage stakeholder engagement , for example, because they require specialist knowledge, training, and software.

Agile teams favor simple, highly visual tools that are easy to understand and use.

For example, stakeholders may write user stories on index cards and attach them to a task board during a planning meeting.

As strategies for engaging stakeholders in an agile project, you should keep senior managers informed, provide training on the technologies and process that the team is using, be flexible, and accept customer representatives onto the team.

Best strategie to managing Stakeholders engagements

Keep managers informed :

It's essential to get support for a project from senior management, who make decisions about whether and how much to invest in projects.

By keeping managers informed, you can help them make the right decisions about issues such as hiring and software or other materials you may need.

Senior managers can also help you encourage other stakeholders to commit to the project.

Rather than hoping that a weekly progress report will provide management with enough information, you should take some time to meet with senior managers and discuss the project's practicalities, such as the technology you use or the development process you follow.

Provide training :

It's important to train key stakeholders on the technologies and processes that the team will be using.

This ensures that they can fulfil their roles properly, and can help give them a sense of belonging.

For example, a business analyst who has worked mainly on traditional projects may need some training on the agile methodology that a team will be using.

Be flexible :

You need to be flexible when managing stakeholder engagements. For example, it may not always be possible for stakeholders to meet with developers face-to-face. Conference calls and video conferencing are acceptable alternatives.

Similarly, if it's not possible for a stakeholder to provide daily updates, update meetings or calls every two days may be sufficient.

You should schedule essential meetings for times that suit stakeholders. For example, you need to ensure that product review meetings take place when the relevant stakeholders are available.

Accept customer representatives :

If a customer decides to assign a representative, it's important to accept this individual onto the project team.

The representative can play an important role, providing valuable information about the customer's needs, answering developers' questions about what's required, and reviewing and prioritizing features.

If you don't accept a representative as a legitimate replacement, it's likely the individual will disengage from the project and the development team will lose its contact with the customer.

Insist on involvement :

If a stakeholder's unwillingness to participate in a project puts the project at risk, you may need to insist on this person's involvement.

If this stakeholder's participation is essential and strategies to secure this person's involvement fail, you may have to consider abandoning the project. Continuing to develop a product that won't meet the customer's needs may be more expensive than putting an end to the project at an early stage.

Conclusion

An agile project depends on the active involvement of various stakeholders throughout the development process. Internal stakeholders include executives and developers who aren't part of the development team but have a vested interest.

External stakeholders include the product team and end users of the product being developed. Strategies for ensuring active stakeholder involvement include keeping senior managers informed, providing training, being flexible, accepting customer representatives, and insisting on the stakeholders' involvement.

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