Stakeholders are at the heart of every business analysis activity. They drive the need for change in an organisation, they shape decision making, and they are the target beneficiaries of any impact or value derived from a business analysis project.
As a business analyst, your success is largely measured by your ability to manage your stakeholders effectively and ensure their satisfaction with the intended outcome. Whether your role is within the scope of a small or a large scale project, you need to manage their needs and expectations effectively.
As it is on any professional task, stakeholders often have different attitudes or dispositions towards projects. Where there is a conflict of interest involved, there is a likelihood of stakeholders being negatively disposed to a project. In order to get them aligned with the purpose and direction of your project, you need to start by establishing positive relationships with them. Here are a number of strategies to adopt.
The first step to engaging your stakeholders is by communicating with them. The essence of establishing communication is to get you to be on the same page with your stakeholders, so they understand what the proposed project is about. However, communication plays a deeper role in establishing stakeholder’s interest, beyond the information you pass across to them. Communicating with your stakeholders involves actively listening to them to understand their pain-point, and acknowledging their challenges. To win their engagement on your project, you need to first understand the reason for their resistance. This will enable you to know how best to relate with them and offer them value on your project..
Your stakeholders want to know that you are invested in their satisfaction. They want to know how your project serves their needs. They are more inclined to be positively disposed to a project that addresses their needs. However, depending on the core needs of the business, your project may not necessarily serve some aspects of the stakeholders’ needs. While this may be the case,you can drive their interest by helping them see how the benefits of the project applies to them and how the overall change you are looking to drive will impact them ultimately. Once they are able to see how it does, you will get better chances of convincing them as to why their involvement is important to the success of your project.
One thing you do not want to project is favouritism. While the roles and decision making powers of your stakeholders may differ, each stakeholder is important and their needs are valid. Stakeholder engagement requires a high level of objectivity. Your ability to objectively assess the current situation and propose solutions will build a level of trust in your stakeholders. You do not want to be assessed as being partisan or caught up in your emotions. A good way to maintain objectivity is to show the facts and figures surrounding a situation. If your stakeholders are resistant to your proposal, present the data that supports your recommendations and why your proposal presents the best benefits for the parties involved.
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