Effective stakeholder engagement is key to successful business strategies, and IT Strategy is no exception. Yet, effective stakeholder management is often overlooked during the development and rollout of IT strategies and digital transformation in businesses.
IT has a cost and anticipated return. It requires research, careful consideration, and sometimes intensive technical development. So, if you’ve taken the time to consider IT’s role and the importance of an IT strategy, how do you best communicate your strategy within your business?
We’ve put together some critical steps to ensure your stakeholders are effectively engaged, so you can implement an IT strategy that has business support and delivers on your goals.
1. Identify and Engage Your Stakeholders from the Beginning
You can’t create buy-in with stakeholders if you don’t know who they are. Identify your stakeholders as you commence the project, consult with them early, and keep them informed throughout the project.
One approach is to start by identifying your different stakeholder groups. For instance:
These could be roles such as CEOs, Directors, The Board, and the CFO. For smaller organisations, this may be the business owner, finance manager, and other senior roles. These decision-makers will want to understand how your IT strategy is aligned to organisational goals and how it will deliver on these goals. They will also want to see clearly defined tactics, costs, resources and timings.
Endorsers need to understand the importance of the strategy and become advocates to ensure teams don’t undermine the delivery of the strategy, cut corners, or adopt poor IT practices.
Whether this is an internal IT team or you are using an external IT services provider, this group will need to understand the reasoning behind your strategy, and perhaps will want to be given the opportunity to challenge strategy assumptions and tactics.
This group needs to know what changes are coming and when. They can also provide helpful feedback during the project. You will need their buy-in and expertise as end-users to ensure a successful strategy delivery. They will also need support and training to adopt the changes.
2. Communicate the Benefits
Identify and communicate the benefits of the IT strategy from your stakeholders’ perspective. Benefits such as cost reduction and improved IT security may be corporate drivers from a senior management and board perspective, but your employees and contractors want to know how it relates to them, what it means, how they will benefit, and what will be required of them.
Will the strategy streamline frustrating processes, deliver better hardware, or make remote work fast and seamless? Employees will have different levels of understanding so ensure that you communicate in plain language, not technical jargon.
3. Truly Listen
An essential part of engaging stakeholders is to take the time to sit face-to-face, where possible, and truly listen. Understand their perspective and allow them to ask probing questions to genuinely understand where they are coming from and how you can overcome their reservations or fears.
4. Take Them on the Journey
Meaningful engagement requires trust. Be honest and open about the potential benefits and limitations of the strategy, as well as the pain required to reach your goals. Breakdown your project into deliverables and tasks to help everyone gain a better understanding of the project. Your stakeholders are more likely to support the plan if they have made a contribution and feel involved.
5. Manage Expectations
Each of your stakeholders will have expectations, and sometimes these expectations may be unrealistic or simply false. Help stakeholders understand project deliverables, the likely uncertainty that is always present in the early stages of a project, and commit to providing updates, successes and challenges as your project progresses.
6. Continuous Communication
Effective stakeholder management is all about excellent communication. Maintain a project communication plan and communicate through various appropriate channels to ensure your stakeholders stay informed.
Effective communication will reduce resistance and help you achieve buy-in at all levels of your business.
Engage an IT Strategy Professional
Need assistance developing and implementing your IT Strategy? An expert IT company like Surety IT can work closely with your business to develop a plan tailored to achieve your business goals. Our IT strategies can help you:
- Save money by ensuring your technology investment is utilised on the right solution
- Develop a clear collaborative plan with priorities and costs
- Ensure your IT strategy is aligned with your business goals
- Create business efficiencies
- Implement a flexible and adaptable strategy that can grow with your business.
- Utilise best practice IT solutions
Contact Surety IT today to find out more or book a consultation.