Yeah, you read that right.
Think about how much your organization invests in IT projects. Even if your project failure rate is on the low end, that’s a lot of wasted time, money, and resources. The most common factor in project failure? Lack of alignment.
Why Is Stakeholder Alignment Critical to Project Success?
Enterprise projects are complex. Often, there is a huge cast of stakeholders involved in getting a project across the finish line, scattered across different levels and business units in your organization. Of course it’s difficult to keep all of these various people with various priorities in sync, potentially for months or years.
But why is this so critical to success?
Staying on budget & timeline
In many organizations, stakeholders are involved initially to kick off projects and then brought back in at the end for final sign off. If stakeholders are taken off guard by the final outcome of your project, you risk missing shifting priorities or even overall objectives. Continuous alignment with all stakeholders prevents rework or surprises which can cause deadlines and budgets to creep. Earlier engagement might have uncovered those needed changes early enough to work them into the original timeframe and budget.
Meeting business goals
By aligning stakeholders throughout the project, you are also better positioned to hit business goals. Enterprise projects are long! Sometimes even multiple years. If you’re working in a vacuum without regular input and feedback from all stakeholders, you might be working toward a goal that has shifted or only factors in the needs of a subset of stakeholders. In the end, you want them all happy, and continuous alignment across stakeholders is the best way to ensure you look good at the end of the project. Ensure you’re moving toward stakeholder objectives and KPIs.
Building ownership & engagement
Alignment with stakeholders also helps build ownership and engagement throughout projects. You want your stakeholders to be your champions - for the project rollout and for you! By aligning stakeholders during the project rather than only at the bookends, you’re building shared ownership of the project and the outcomes. Get them invested in the project’s success and your own. This also means that your project is more likely to get buy in throughout the organization and even better adoption or reception once rolled out because you have a team of higher ups championing it.
How Can You Start Building Stakeholder Alignment?
Instead of just accepting projects, successful executives think critically upfront about that work. Your role should be to help stakeholders also understand the work and build a shared understanding of the project and success. Don’t get lost in the weeds but step back to get the big picture and make sure everyone involved also sees it the same way.
Start by asking yourself - and your stakeholders:
- Who are the stakeholders? What is important to them?
- Who is this project for? What is the purpose?
- Who are the affected users, both upstream and downstream?
- What will be the outcome (internally and externally)?
- What does success mean to those impacted and owning it?
- How does this align to business unit or overall organizational priorities?
How are you building stakeholder alignment? Stay tuned for our next post on how we build stakeholder alignment on our projects.