Managing multiple stakeholders

Products with multiple stakeholders will likely have differing goals, dates and budget concerns.

Managing the distinct work-streams, aligning goals, incorporating the stakeholder’s ideas into the product, and ensuring everyone’s wishes are meet within a certain time-frame will benefit from a process that ensures clear objectives and communications serving all involved.

Keep stakeholders engaged throughout the development process from scope definition, change management, and conflict resolution, increasing engagement when major decisions are to be made (sprint boundaries, for example).

Proposed process

  • Create a Stakeholder map, identifying them and classifying as power/interest, and frequency/influence
  • Run Inceptions at kick-off, and prior to every major development effort, with emphasis on:
    • Evaluation of the different goals and motivation
    • Definition of KPIs
    • Scope negotiation
    • Time-frame negotiation
    • Allowing an equal voice to each of the stakeholders
    • Future-spective to extract critical requirements from the different stakeholders
    • VSM to visualize the path to production (current and future states) so all stakeholders are aware of the process
    • Conflict resolution, sequencing changes and scope to minimize impact
  • Define a communication channel and frequency of communications.
    • Establish a process for identifying and escalating ideas, risks, and changes
    • Will serve to communicate with the development team as well
    • Spend time on communication with high-interest and high-influence stakeholders

Workshop tips

  • Show the big picture to everyone. People are often interested in only their aspect of the solution, limiting their view of the overall product and its direction
  • Be a dispassionate facilitator, yet empathetic - trying to understand what people trying to say and help them clarify it
  • Give feedback by posing questions to further clarify issues
  • Use a common language. For example, BDD-style statements will expose business needs and guide priorities
  • Do not dismiss difficult stakeholders
    • Meet them 1:1 to see if there are common use-cases with others, and their user-personas.