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Keeping Control of Your Projects – Part 2

Sponsors/Key Stakeholder Communications

See Part I for the first part of this article on team communications.

In this post we’ll approach communications from the perspective of sponsors and other key stakeholders.

Managing your sponsors and key stakeholders is essential to ensure your project meets their needs. We want to control our communications – meeting the needs of the individual stakeholders but also being sensitive to the fact that we cannot spend our entire days communicating to each individual key stakeholder.

Regular status report meetings

Similar to what we discussed in Part I for team meetings, utilize stop light reports to communicate with your sponsor and key stakeholders. Report on how the project is progressing against the budget, timeline and scope. Highlight issues and how they are being addressed, or, if a decision is needed by the stakeholders, provide them what they need to make a decision:

  • Key points of the problem
  • Various options for what might be done to resolve the problem with pros and cons of each option, including a “do nothing” option
  • The preferred, or best, option given the impact on the project schedule, budget, resources, quality, scope and risks
  • When a decision is needed by to keep moving forward

Regular meetings with stakeholders should be scheduled from the beginning of the project through to attending a lessons learned session. I have found that if you develop the stakeholder meeting schedule early on, you have a better chance of them being available. I also try to coordinate with regularly scheduled leadership meetings when possible.

Use a simple communication plan to plan your communications with stakeholders. For example,








Project status update

Bi-weekly at leadership meeting

In-person at meeting

Presentation using stop light reports (red/ amber/green)

Internal communications

Information for employee communications

Monthly – during the first week of the month

Via email

Detailed information for updating employees

Similar to what was shared about decision-making meetings in Part I, I set up a separate sponsor/key stakeholder meeting when a decision is necessary at the leadership level. This enables me to ensure that the focus is on making a decision and that the right people are in the room.

For such meetings, I provide the key stakeholders the following information:

  • 2 – 3 options for moving forward with solving the problem, including what happens is nothing is done
  • These options are evaluated against their impact on:
    • Budget
    • Schedule
    • Scope
    • Resources
    • Introduction of potential new risks
    • Quality to the project
  • A request for a decision (approval of one of the options) and when that decision is needed by, including the impact if the decision deadline is passed with no decision made

Project portal dashboard

The same project portal used for team communications is an excellent way to share information and communicate with the sponsor and key stakeholders. I use a dashboard for these communications. I ensure the page is set with relevant information to the stakeholders, such as progress against the budget, the schedule information, upcoming stakeholder meeting dates, contact information for key project personnel, etc. This part of the portal can be separated from the team’s portal pages to enable stakeholders to only see information relevant to them/of interest to them.

These are just a couple of best practices for communicating with your project sponsor/key stakeholders. For longer term projects, I regularly check in with the sponsor and other key stakeholders to ensure that I am still providing them communications on the project that works for them. As the project progresses, often communications need to change to continue to be effective for the recipient.

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