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Stakeholder management is a crucial aspect of most projects. It is generally overlooked or not provided enough attention. This happens both in Agile and predictive methodologies. As the project moves forward, the changing views of stakeholders are hard to incorporate. This can happen in predictive approaches. When it comes to Agile projects, responding to stakeholders when the project moves forward is at the very core. However, even in this approach, the incorporation is hard.
A stakeholder is an individual or an organization actively and effectively involved in a project. Also, the person or entity has interests that may negatively or positively affect the completion or performance of a project. A stakeholder may exert influence over the project, its deliverables or its project team members.
Stakeholder management in Agile is the art of understanding how to engage stakeholders. Here, stakeholders include executives, department heads and senior-level managers; internal and external partners. The engagement of these people is essential all through the project lifecycle for ensuring its success.
Management of stakeholders is important in Agile project management. The reason is that in an Agile setup, time is essential. It means that you will have to be mindful of safeguarding your team from potential distractions. At the same time, you will have to factor in the varying priorities and needs of your stakeholders.
Of course, involving stakeholders in projects may cause the issues mentioned above. But, ensuring stakeholder engagement with proper stakeholder management is important. If your team does not involve stakeholders, you might not able to find:
When these things happen without stakeholder engagement, a lot of mistakes come up. If not checked for too long, the outcome will be costly rework. At times, it can even lead to project failure and loss of reputation. So, stakeholder management in Agile is important.
The process of managing these Stakeholders with proper communication, requirements and meeting the expectations of the project called the Stakeholder Management process and it encompasses the following steps:
You might have many stakeholders with a vested interest in your project or the entire organization. However, for your Agile stakeholder management, it is better to consider those with the ability to:
When you are in the process of identifying the right stakeholders, it is better not to forget external factors. These factors include regulatory agencies, competitors, supplies and subcontractors. Also, remember to shortlist stakeholders who can provide you with production support and IT Ops.
Let us consider that you have completed the first step in Agile Stakeholder Management. The next thing you will have to do is to analyze stakeholders. When analyzing stakeholders, SAFe classified stakeholders into different categories. Let us throw some light on each of these categories below:
The good thing about this category of stakeholders is that it is easy to identify them. This category encompasses business owners and others with considerable decision-making. It is easy to engage them. But, they can either nurture the project or can kill it. They can play a role in sustaining the project.
The best way to keep them engaged is to keep in touch with them regularly. Also, they should be kept updated about the project status.
This category in Scrum stakeholder management encompasses stakeholders with considerable authority. It means that they are empowered to decide. But, as they have less interest, it is hard to engage them. Further, it is hard to keep in touch with them.
For the management of this category of stakeholders, you should do whatever you can to satisfy them.
Stakeholders in this category may be impacted by the project. However, they do not have the power to make influential decisions. The problem with this category of stakeholders is that they may demand more of your time than your available time.
As they have a high level of interest, you should keep them informed on the project. You can keep in touch with them via publicity campaigns, presentations and email.
Stakeholders under this category are not involved. They may not even know about your project. Even, they might not be ready to see another email in their inbox from your end.
It is better to keep updated about them. Also, keep an eye on them to identify whether they are entering into other areas of your business.
When prioritizing stakeholders, the popular technique you can follow is stakeholder mapping. It means that you should classify them based on their level of interest, impact and influence. Once you do this, you can develop the right strategies for engaging them. you can do this engagement based on the stakeholder mapping groups that you have created. Remember that stakeholder prioritization should happen continuously. Also, you have the option to conduct an NPS Survey.
NPS stands for Net Promoter Score. It will help with gauging the loyalty of a stakeholder. Further, it is a very simple approach. It is the best alternative to traditional customer satisfaction surveys.
Stakeholder engagement is a crucial step in stakeholder management in Agile. At this point, you have already identified and prioritized the stakeholders. Now, it is time to define how you will be interacting with them. It can happen through workshops, SAFe program events or Scrum ceremonies, standing meetings or one-on-one conversations. At this stage, the frequency should be set. Also, the objectives of the meetings should be identified.
You can also follow any of the following techniques to engage stakeholders:
Here, frequent communication is essential. The reason is that the stakeholders have rights. But, they have responsibilities as well. They have the right to have an engaged team. They have the right to be informed of the progress of the team. Their responsibility is to stay engaged from the beginning to the completion of the project. They are responsible for providing support and feedback regularly. They are also responsible for contributing to the growth of a dependable Agile atmosphere.
So, it is better to communicate with stakeholders about their rights and responsibilities. In turn, their hindrance into unnecessary things can be avoided.
To manage the expectations of stakeholders, one thing you can do is to explain to them that you are making progress. You should let them know that you are moving towards the overall outcome. You can do this by communicating with them at regular intervals. It is better to ensure that you provide stakeholders with updates anywhere between a couple of weeks and a couple of months once.