Every website project has stakeholders. But one of the main reasons projects experience setbacks is not having the right stakeholders on board at the right time, or, involving too many at once.
Depending on the business, there may be fewer or more stakeholders interested in your website project. To ensure project success, it helps to understand who the key stakeholders are, and how they like to communicate alongside what their needs and expectations may be.
But just how many are too many stakeholders? What damage can too many stakeholders cause to your project's success? And who exactly should be involved? In this blog, we share insight into this topic from our many years of working with a wide range of people across a wide range of projects.
Why are stakeholders important to your website project?
There’s no denying that stakeholders are imperative to every website project. Engaging with your stakeholders throughout the duration of your website project will help you to:
- Build a business case
- Collate important expertise
- Avoid project scope creep
- Reduce risks
- Avoid problems later down the line
- Increase ongoing buy-in
But there is such a thing as too many stakeholders…
How can having too many stakeholders damage the success of your website project?
Stakeholders are individual people with individual opinions. They will often have different motives and different expectations which can make balancing them a difficult task. As such, it’s important to only involve the necessary stakeholders in your web project. Whether your agency communicates with these people directly or you have a project team in place to act as the middleman, it’s important to determine these factors before the project gets underway.
When too many stakeholders are involved, your web project inevitably results in being driven by opinion rather than a structured process. If a new stakeholder is brought in halfway through a project, for example, to help sign off designs, they’re not armed with the backstory and will have missed out on valuable insight gleaned from the discovery phase. As far as they see it, they’ve been brought in to provide their expert opinion with minimal context. And this can derail a project.
Each project milestone needs to be ticked off before moving on to the next one. If there are barriers in place preventing sign-off, it’s going to impact your project's success and cause:
- Prolonged timescales
- Key project milestones being missed
- Budgets being stretched
- Working relationships being damaged
To avoid this, identifying who your project team are is key alongside the communication methods that will work for your team and how they will feed information back up the chain to stakeholders.
Getting a team in place
Having a dedicated project team in place who can support each stage of the project from those first conversations until after go-live is key to success.
Once the project gets underway, one of our first meetings is the kick-off meeting. This meeting is the ideal time to establish project roles and responsibilities including how change requests are managed, who needs to be involved and who has the power to approve each stage. Doing so will make it easier to get sign-off and move onto the next project stage with minimal delays.
If you don’t consult the right people at the right time, the entire project can become complicated. Plus, missing a necessary individual out of the process risks your project suffering from a knowledge gap that causes key information to not be considered.
A website project naturally involves many spinning plates and a lot of information being passed around. Your dedicated project team is responsible for delivering the project from the day the budget is signed off until the day the warranty with your digital partner ends.
These individuals will hold all the knowledge necessary to support your agency in doing their job well. They will also be able to communicate with stakeholders higher up to gain approval and help to keep the project on track.
A project team will differ from business to business and your team members are something we can help you to identify, but we commonly advise businesses to involve people from:
- Customer service
The aim of creating your project team is to form well-rounded insight through the right mix of stakeholders and this often includes senior management.
While it’s not usually necessary to involve your full senior management team, having specific members on hand for specific milestones is important. It’s the responsibility of your project team to communicate relevant information back to these stakeholders so they can provide approval with confidence at those key project milestones.
External project manager
While this role isn’t always necessary, some businesses decide to bring in an external project manager who can provide advice and insight without being biased. In this case, the external project manager is usually the person at the forefront, acting as the middleman between the web agency and your internal project team to share information and gain approval.
This is an approach we have seen work well on numerous occasions. Thanks to the streamlined nature of only having to regularly communicate with one person, it allows us to focus on creating the solution your business needs which means we can ultimately do our job better.
Defining key milestones
During the project kick-off meeting, we will also work with you to define key project milestones and who is going to be responsible for each of these milestones. Every project will involve key milestones such as:
- End of the research phase: Once the research and discovery phase is complete, a summary documentation is presented back to you including what we’ve discovered and the next stages.
- Content modelling: The next milestone involves signing off the content modelling. This involves elements such as agreeing on the structure of the site, how it will look, what components are required and any integration needs.
- Signing off designs: Once the content modelling has been done, it’s then a case of signing off on the designs. Do you agree with the visual direction that we've taken? Do any changes need making?
- Technical output: Now there’s a clear understanding of who your users are, what you need your website to do for your business and the visuals have been agreed upon, it’s time to move on to creating the technical output of your website during the development phase.
- Testing: Although testing is completed throughout each project phase, user acceptance testing involves the client direct and will be done before go-live takes place. During this time, we’ll need to understand if the site matches both the specification and the visual designs that you've signed off.
Once these milestones have been outlined alongside who will be involved, it becomes much easier to define communication methods. This ensures information is passed from the agency to your team and onto any necessary stakeholders with ease and efficiency.
What are the benefits of taking this approach?
Ultimately, the ongoing progress and success of your project come down to approval. We need to get to the next phase. But to get to the next phase, we need approval of the previous phase. By having a project team, key milestones and defined communication methods in place, this becomes seamless for everyone involved allowing us to:
- Keep the project on track
- Work to original deadlines
- Know who to speak to if an issue occurs
- Tackle necessary changes efficiently and effectively
- Work within budget
If you want to find out more about our approach to building websites and how we can help you create the ideal project team, don’t hesitate to contact us.