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Soliciting Feedback from Your Key Stakeholders

Getting information you need to ensure future project success

Soliciting feedback from our key stakeholders on our initiative is not always easy for a number of reasons. In some organizations, it just isn’t standard practice as people move rapidly from project to project. In other organizations, projects run with so much difficulty and anxiety that people are just glad to be past a project. And for other organizations, gathering feedback on how to improve just is not part of the culture. However, without getting feedback, it is difficult to improve upon how projects are accomplished. Let’s face it, no matter how well we all think projects run in our organization, there is always room for improvement! Here are a few best practices for soliciting feedback from stakeholders for your projects so that you get usable data to improve how future projects are accomplished:

Step 1: Review all project documentation, including the charter, scope statement, change requests and other relevant information prior to your meeting with the stakeholders. Do this in conjunction with your team and discuss where the team has been successful meeting the objectives and goals of the project and where they could improve. By doing this exercise beforehand with your team, you are better able to focus on areas where you believe you can improve and drive the conversation with the stakeholders to focus in these areas. Certainly, when I meet with the stakeholders I share where the team as a whole believes they have done well and where they feel they can improve and ask for their thoughts.  Which takes us to…

Step 2: Prior to the feedback meeting with the stakeholders, send around a review of the project from the perspective of the project team – what worked and what did not work. Ask the stakeholders to consider the project before the meeting and to share at the meeting their suggestions for how to improve future projects and to highlight, from their perspective, what worked well.  For those stakeholders who cannot attend the feedback meeting in person, ask them to provide their thoughts via email or consider (which I always find more productive) sending them a survey with the same questions you’ll be asking other stakeholders face-to-face. Through the survey (rather than just an email asking for general thoughts/information) you are better able to analyze and roll up data to find strengths and development areas.

Step 3: During the stakeholder feedback meeting, ask stakeholders to provide their thoughts on the success of the project based on:

  • Gathering of requirements from stakeholders
  • Feeling involved/listened to/heard throughout the project initiative
  • Meeting the outlined deliverables to the expected quality
  • The management of change requests
  • Project communications
  • The process for managing the project
  • Overall meeting the stakeholder’s needs and expectations for this project

Ask them also to provide their thoughts on how the project team can improve to better support their needs on a future project initiative. What suggestions and recommendations do they have that would enable the team to more effectively work with stakeholders in the future?

Step 4: Within a few days after the stakeholder feedback meeting, provide a summary of the feedback provided to the project team and include what steps will be taken to address issues to ensure a smoother more effective process and interaction with stakeholders on the next project. Include a timeline for making improvements and follow up as you begin to make improvements. Nothing works better for getting stakeholders engaged in providing feedback than when they feel that they have been heard, their time has not been wasted and you have an action plan in place to make improvements and act on their suggestions.

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