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Tips for Obtaining and Keeping Stakeholder Buy-In

written by: Lee Clemmer • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 3/19/2013

Stakeholders can hold the purse strings and the votes controlling your project. Getting key players to get behind an initiative is important. Surmounting obstacles and eliminating negative influences can make or break the success of your project, but first, we need to determine the who and how.

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    Instilling Confidence in Your Stakeholders

    You've got a solid plan, a strong team, and you're confident you will meet the business' goals and deliver a strong solution. How do you convey this to the key players and groups that will decide whether it's a go or no-go?

    Projects can take an extended period of time, and have multiple phases. Interest can wane. Your project might not be the hottest thing on the agenda this time around. So, how do you keep the interest of key people and groups? Conducting a stakeholder analysis review is the means to determine what their interests are in your project, how your project will affect them, and strategies for getting their support.

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    Analysis Basics: Questions to Consider

    Create a chart listing all stakeholders in the project. You do know who all potential stakeholders are, don't you? It can't hurt to analyze whether or not there are other stakeholders you haven't considered. For example, Is that other outspoken manager acting the way she is because of her department's stake in your project?

    Once you're sure you've listed all potential stakeholders, identify all the interests they have in your project, both positive and negative. Consider what changes your project will cause for the stakeholders. What will they have to change? Is your project creating more work for them? Are they losing control or clout somehow? Does it reduce or increase their budget or staff? Are they more or less visible to upper management? If the identified stakeholder is an upper or c-level manager, how will the success or failure of the project impact them?

    The most important column in our analysis chart is the importance of the stakeholder to the success of our project. Whether you give them a numeric score or a low, medium, or high type ranking, you need to know which stakeholders are the most critical.

    Stakeholder Analysis Chart 

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    Encourage Buy In

    Now we need to determine how to gain stakeholder buy-in for the project. If they will have an objection or create an obstacle, determine what would persuade them remove those. What would you need to bring to the table? What results would satisfy them? How can you align your project so that a win for you is a win for them, and be sure that they see and agree with that? Will they be influenced by others?

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    Keep Them Committed

    At each phase of the project it is a good practice to conduct this analysis. You should compare the results of the analysis with the previous one you conducted. Consider the following:

    • What has changed? How much?
    • Are some players no longer key?
    • Are there new players to be identified?

    Most importantly, determine what information to bring to the most important stakeholders to retain their interest and commitment in the project. This may be information with a different slant than a dry status report. Use your initial findings, but capture feedback as well.

    I hope this advice helps you get and keep the stakeholder buy-in you need. Now that you have some quick tips to practice, if you would like to understand this topic more deeply, read this article on the theories and practices in stakeholder analysis by ciel s cantoria.


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