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Engaging Stakeholders 20091125

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  • 1. Engaging Stakeholders - Why Creating a Dedicated Communication Unit is Vital for Success - Summary Achieving a project’ s objective alone does not translate into success. Success is achieved only when all stakeholders acknowledge the achievements of the project and then they declare the project a success. To achieve this requires a detailed, consistent and audience oriented communication strategy. Although this is well known this is difficult to achieve as many professionals are not sensitive to the “ dark arts” of PR and the internal marketing departments are externally focussed. The solution is not more control documents, project monitoring tools or detailed reports. The solution is ensuring a clear, simple compelling message is communicated and that a simple, frequent dialogue is created between all stakeholders so that they can not only make themselves understood, but understand your message clearly and unambiguously. This is best done by creating a small unit, internal or outsourced, that is mandated with this communication and ensures that it happens despite the other pressures on the project. BQu has developed the tools and approach to assist both companies and internal departments in doing this simply, effectively, cost effectively and with the minimum fuss. Problem – Lack of Common Understanding and Empathy Creates Division, Disputes and Hampers Success –
  • 2. Many professionals believe that delivering a project on time and on budget is the key to success. Unfortunately this is not the case. Many projects delivered on time and budget is viewed as failures by the organisation as a whole and projects over run on both time and budget are often viewed as a success. The key is the actual and the perceived value added to the project delivered to the End Users and the perception of all stakeholders in the organization. Creating a success perception with stakeholders depends on them having a clear understanding of the achievements of the project, participating in its implementation, and feeling listened to and having an overall “ good” impression of the project. This can be immensely frustrating for many professionals who often only look at the “ objective” project dimensions and the quality of the technical execution. The users, managers and other stakeholders often have completely different quality perceptions. Some of them are: • Is it easy to use? • Does it simplify my life? • Is support “ user friendly” ? • Did I enjoy the implementation process? • How is it perceived by others in the organisation (i.e. rumour mill)? etc. The key is to use traditional Marketing and Communication (MARCOM) tools and approaches such as newsletters, opinion surveys, etc., for the project in the same way as any other supplier would do. Objective – Clear Communication to and Involvement of all Stakeholders– Therefore “ message driven” two way communication to both transmit a clear understanding of the project and its achievements as well as monitoring the actual perception, understanding and usage of the output of the project is vital. The communication needs to be adapted to the needs of each of the types of stakeholders. The needs, involvement and understanding of the project are different for each stakeholder.
  • 3. And although frequent face to face meetings and presentations are vital for the “ Sponsors and Project Team” , collective and remote communication such as newsletters, web site, on-line questionnaires and on-line forums are the best communication tools for the more remote stakeholders such as End Users and other Company employees. Hurdles – Nice to Have, not Need to Have and therefore often tails off after the initial flush of enthusiasm – Good project communication and the creation of a two way dialogue is virtually always an early objective of any project, but rarely is a coherent, regular and quality communication flow to the more remote stakeholders is maintained through the life of the project. There are several good reasons for this: ● The Marketing department, or even the internal communication department producing company newsletters, does not view the communication of project successes as its role ● The communication is often very dull and fact based rather than message driven ● There is very little “ listening” outside the inner circle of “ key stakeholders” ● Communication is not a requirement of “ delivery” and disclosure is often viewed as a risk. ● There is a tendency of underestimating what people need to know to stop speculating Another major hurdle is cost. Although everyone recites the rule of thirds (one third planning – one third doing – one third communicating and training) most people do not budget on this basis. Similarly internal cross charges from internal services are often prohibitively expensive. Solution – Dedicated Unit and Process Separate from Day to Day Management – To ensure delivery of the communication and also its “ independence” the creation of a separate communication unit is required. This unit is mandated to focus on the needs of the audiences not the knowledge of the core team members. This unit should also be familiar with the use of traditional MARCOM techniques such as newsletters, surveys, blogs, forums, web sites. etc.
  • 4. This unit should be independent but must have close, direct links into all key stake holders both on the project delivery and project acceptance part to make sure that all needs are satisfied. The unit should be composed of an editorial team and a production team. The editorial team needs to be close to all the stakeholders and have a marketing rather than project management and technical stance and approach. All key project documents, process reports, etc. will of course be used as input material for the communication to all stakeholders How To Do It – Simple, Low Cost, but Dedicated Outsource of the time consuming part under close project leadership control – Two units have to be created: • Editorial Team: Responsible for creation of communication concept, document content, survey purpose and frequency, link with sponsor and team leadership of results and activity. This is typically an internal team that can be supported by external writers or advisors. • Production Team: Responsible for producing, sending and monitoring newsletters, web sites, forums and on-line surveys. Also responsible for producing survey analysis and monitoring usage and feed back from all users. A typical mistake is to make the editorial team, which is often part time, also responsible for production, analysis and follow up. This is usually too much and the quality, frequency, analysis or feed back suffers. BQu has developed the capabilities and tools to assist internal teams with cost effective communication support we do this by: • Using market leading, easy to use newsletter and survey tools • Employing a team experienced in on-line communication and using newsletters and surveys • Engaging with the team to make sure that we do not create hurdles • Having an IT team enabling us to create integrated web capabilities linked to the newsletters and surveys using WIKI toolset if required to ensure maximum ease of use and simplicity to use by all the team • Focussing on cost effectiveness rather than complexity
  • 5. Due to our focus and value engineering approach we can offer the whole of these capabilities at significantly lower costs than in-house teams. About BQu BQu is a company dedicated to provide business decision makers with the support they need to make better fact based decisions and to improve their communication and engagement with all stake holders and end users. BQu was created to close the gap that exists between business leaders and consultancies in terms of the support they have to enable them to research topics, gather or create information, analyse data and present results. We do this by focussing our resources in assisting management rather than advising management while still using the problem solving approach of the leading consultancies and the communication framework devised by Barbara Minto also used by the major consultancies. Our motto is: - the right information - at the right time - in the right format - at the right price - For more information refer to the links below. About the Author Jacques de Cock. Jacques de Cock is Chief Executive of London-based business intelligence and research consultants BQu. He has over 25 years’ experience in consulting and Business management. A physics graduate from Oxford University, he gained an MBA from the London Business School and worked for McKinsey where he set up the first research centre for the information technology markets in Europe. He then became a principal of Booz|Allen|Hamilton before leading the creation and floatation of patsystems and the creation and development of other entrepreneurial businesses. Contact him at jacques.decock@bquintelligence.com www.bquintelligence.com ● enquiries@bquintelligence.com Tel: +44 20 7431 4597 ● Fax: +44 20 7691 1189