22 Apr Managing Stakeholder Expectations & Impressing Your Project Sponsor
Dealing with one person has its challenges, but transactions with a large organization can be down-right daunting. Your project sponsor is your primary contact to the greater whole, not only for the project itself, but also into the often highly political world of multiple stakeholders. The main project sponsor is the one person you need to keep on your side, and that can be a pro or a con, depending on personalities!
It’s no secret that first impressions make a difference, but impressing them during the project is just as important. How do you build a positive relationship that will last through the venture …and hopefully blossom into future projects?
Let’s start with the basics.
If you say you are going to do something, do it. Send thank-you notes when appropriate. Keep them in the loop about new developments or opportunities.
Credentials show that you are serious about your profession. In turn, making this effort can give your sponsor/client increased confidence in your capabilities.
Communicate regularly about the latest developments and project data. A short note or weekly update might do. If you agree to a formal reporting structure, such as a thorough monthly report, stick to it. Consistency, itself, will lend a measure of reassurance to your relationship. It may also decrease the number of frantic phone calls you have to field from your contact.
Be a Helper
Everybody is responsible to somebody and project sponsors have managers, too. When you deal with an executive owner, the information you provide will probably be shared with a larger group. Make it easy for them to do their job by explaining your recommendations and providing comprehensive data.
When attending meetings together, provide all the documentation that they may need in advance. Include copies of reports, agendas, or previous meeting minutes.
Some industry language just doesn’t translate well. Instead of using abbreviations or trying to impress them your industry’s catchphrases, be as clear as possible. Just because you understand the phrase doesn’t mean they do…and they may not be comfortable asking for clarification. Clarity is always key, so to this end, use plain English and express concepts in terms of what they will deliver rather than what they are.
Be On Time
This project probably isn’t the only thing on your sponsor’s desk. They are busy people, too. Being on time for meetings and calls shows respect. Ensure you are using a PM tool which provides reminders for sponsor updates, and very effective is a feature which provides for automated reporting and distribution.
Even though your project sponsor is a client, you are on the same team, working toward the same objective. You should strive for a mutually open, honest flow of information. Crafting a cooperative relationship is essential to the success of the project.
If you do your job right, you just might discover a working relationship that generates other projects and referrals down the line.
Annette Jepson is a technology and Project Management blogger who contributes to the Lean BPM pioneer, JobTraQ.