5 Tips For Keeping Stakeholders Aligned

When it comes to managing projects, there is a lot at stake and a lot to juggle  – identifying business goals, gathering functional requirements, defining scope, assigning resources, determining timelines, assessing risk, developing and testing.  All these steps are crucial to a successful project. With fast pace environments comes aggressive timelines and it is often easy to rush through some of the initial planning elements just to get things moving along and this can lead to confusion or miscommunication.

The most important part of any project is in the planning. If a project has flaws in the planning stages  – it’s doomed to fail!

Related: Absolute Essentials for Successful Agile Project Management

Defining the scope and gathering requirements are where the majority of the decisions are made and the core elements of the project are identified. With the all the meeting notes, emails and lengthy brainstorming sessions, sometimes people can walk away with different understandings of the project details.  So how can you be sure that everyone is on the same page?

Here are 5 tips for keeping your stakeholders aligned:

1. Don’t assume you know what the client wants!

Your assumptions may not be in line with what they are envisioning. Go over the details of the project and review every aspect of the functionality. Identify things that are out of scope or not recommended. Make suggestions on best practices or proven solutions, and be open to understanding the needs of the client to accomplish their goals.

2. Clarify userflow and functionality visually

Describing functionality or a technical userflow is not always straightforward and things can get lost in translation. Userflow diagrams and mock-ups help everyone to visualize and understand exactly what is being defined. Discuss all possible user scenarios in detail and map out the key steps to make sure the flow is understood and makes sense.

3. Get it in writing!

Sign off within projects is very important. Get approvals for all critical stages or milestones in the project. Not all projects require formal SOWs or documents that need to be signed – but it is important to have records of decisions and approvals to keep everyone organized and leave nothing to memory.

4. Stay Organized

Keep all notes and documents together and accessible to all for reference. Tools like Google docs or Dropbox to make it easy to share all project documents, mock-ups, and files with the group.

5. Check in regularly

Create a project schedule that clearly breaks down the tasks so the expectations and timelines are clear.  Now let’s be realistic – most projects require constant back and forth and changes will be needed in most cases. Use regular status meetings to review the progress and discuss any roadblocks or changes.

Project Management can be a mess of elements to organize and balance. So spend the time in the planning stage to increase your likelihood of success and make sure that all stakeholders are on the same page.