A digital technical looking orchestra, all members making music together.

A Stakeholder’s Role in Technical Projects: Where You Fit In

Understanding stakeholders roles and incorporating appropriate involvement is pivotal to digital and technical  project success, as any good project manager knows. Whether our stakeholders come from government agencies, educational institutions, non-profits, financial sectors, or law firms, these ‘Captains of Industry’ bring a unique perspective that enriches the project. Despite their expertise in their respective fields, a common thread often exists: a limited understanding of the digital technical aspects to bring their project to life (and typically why organizations like TPS are brought in). This article is for budding project managers.  We’ll explore the essential role stakeholders play, examining how their involvement shapes the trajectory and success of technical projects.

Understanding Stakeholder Diversity

Stakeholders in technical projects can be a diverse group in both physical and emotional involvement. They range from those deeply involved in the project’s ‘hands-on’ parts &/or organizational branding processes to others who prefer a mostly hands-off approach. Regardless of their level of engagement, each brings a unique set of expectations and insights.

The Engagement Spectrum

Stakeholder engagement varies significantly across projects. For example, initiatives creating organizational digital branding tend to have a higher physical and emotional involvement by stakeholders as they feel part of and personally identify with their organization. As a digital technical project manager, we recognize this deep involvement is essential to project success and we wield this engagement into the timeline. But in other scenarios, stakeholders might adopt a more observational role, providing guidance and making key decisions without delving into the day-to-day management. 

Challenges in Perception

A common challenge for stakeholders is grasping the time and effort required to bring technical projects to fruition. The misconception of the ‘magic clicky mouse’ (as I like to call it), where a few clicks can miraculously produce results, is prevalent. It’s crucial to communicate that, despite advanced technologies such as AI and no-code/low-code software solutions at our disposal, these projects still require meticulous planning, execution, and management.

The Value of Non-Technical Insights

What non-technical stakeholders lack in digital know-how however, they compensate for with their real-world user experience insights. They offer a perspective that is invaluable in ensuring that the end product resonates with its intended purpose and audience. This input is especially crucial in user-centric projects where understanding the end-user’s needs and behaviors can make or break the project’s success. 

The Impact of Stakeholder Engagement

The involvement of stakeholders is not just beneficial but essential at every stage of a project. From the initial requirements gathering to the final project acceptance, their feedback, guidance, approvals, and insights help shape a project’s direction and outcomes. Effective, efficient stakeholders engagements and communications ensure that the project remains aligned with its intended purpose and the organization’s goals and expectations (that is, “fulfills requirements”).

Case Study: The Power of Engagement

As project managers, we know stakeholder engagement at all phases of the project significantly influences the outcome. From the beginning, their input during the requirements gathering period helps identify key needs and requirements that may not have been initially apparent. A savvy PM will immediately note that this will create a misalignment in team expectations, time, budget, and resources. This insight could lead to a reevaluation of the project scope, which is far easier to deal with at the beginning of the project. Again, it’s all about project success! Engagement is equally important at other phases of the project. Seeking feedback and approvals on project deliverables, change request process, etc keeps stakeholders appropriately involved and expectations for the entire team aligned. Ultimately, this leads to project success.  

Conclusion

Stakeholders, with their vast industry knowledge and real-world insights, play a crucial role in the success of digital technical projects. Their engagement, whether hands-on or strategic, brings a balance to the technical expertise of the project team. Understanding their challenges, valuing their insights, and ensuring their active involvement is vital. In the symphony of a digital technical project, stakeholders are not just spectators; they are instrumental players whose participation help orchestrate a project’s grand success.