Audience Identification and Subjective Communication
Let’s take a look at four different kinds of audiences. Note that not all projects will have all four groups represented by different people. It’s possible that if your team is small enough, that one person plays several roles. It’s also possible that you will have more than four groups, depending on the nature of your project. However, virtually all projects have the four groups below. Communicating with each of them subjectively will be vital to your success.
The first group is the client. This can be one person, or hundreds. However, they all have something in common – they will be a user or end recipient of whatever it is you are producing. They are highly interested in a very small subset of topics, namely what is getting delivered, and when will it be delivered. The client is attempting to maximize usefulness of whatever it is you are producing.
The second group is the sponsor. Usually this is the client’s manager, director, division head, etc., whoever is actually paying the bill for the project. Unlike the client, the sponsor is attempting to maximize return on investment in the project. How much can they get, and how much can they save. Often, they will cut features that the client desires, simply to push that ROI equation more to their liking.
The third group is the project team. Depending on your industry this can mean programmers, designers, testers, industrial engineers, manufacturing teams, facilities, etc. But they all share something; they all have a set of tasks before them that they must complete. They also want to increase ROI, they want to deliver as much as they can in as little time/cost as possible, so they can get on to the next job.
The fourth and final group is your boss, often called a program management office, or perhaps just your manager. This group wants to deliver value to the sponsor in such a way that they will pay their bill, and will be willing to work with you and the team again.
As you can see, each of the four audiences wants a different thing, and some of them even work against each other. The project manager we discussed in the first paragraph, the one who sends everything to everyone, is only going to hurt themselves. This is how endless delays and endless meetings occur, as conflicts need to be worked out and discussed.