As we kick off 2017 and plan ahead for all of our exciting upcoming initiatives, we embark on new projects with valued stakeholders. From the perspective of being a new client vendor, we have to approach this as a test of trust. The client trusts us to be experts in our field and guide them through a successful implementation and rollout of a project. We are the experts, and now is our time to shine. You will also encounter this as you begin new initiatives with internal or external stakeholders. Here are a few key tips to gain stakeholders’ trust as we build these new relationships.

Getting to Know You

This may seem like an obvious way to kick things off, but the best approach in getting to know your stakeholder is to learn their work habits. They are busy and may be part of many projects in addition to their own workload. Understanding your stakeholder and adapting to their needs is the best way to maximize their efforts and time. A few examples are as follows:
  • Does your stakeholder get into the office early or stay late? Schedule necessary calls around their most available times. This means being flexible outside of normal business hours as needed
  • Does your stakeholder prefer email communication to phone calls?
Create Timelines
Each project always has a deadline and deliverables. As you get to know your stakeholder, make sure you have a high-level timeline you can update and provide them throughout the project. This will give them a clear understanding of what needs to get done and when. A few suggestions to get this in full swing are:
  • Create a timeline with stages. It’s easier to break down a project in major stages such as pre-launch, launch, and post-launch
  • Keep it to 1 page and in a table format for an easy read
  • Don’t forget to include milestones
Stay Organized
Anyone who has worked on a project knows that organization is a key factor for success. Multiple events happen through the duration of any project and as the project manager/project lead it is your responsibility to stay organized and keep the project moving. Great examples of this are:
  • Take detailed meeting minutes and send them out to the project team. Identify all action items for both sides and make them easy to reference when the stakeholder reviews
  • Utilize project management tools to create to-do lists with due dates and descriptive deliverables. This creates a central place for everyone on the project to stay in the loop and see what is expected of them and by which deadlines
How Can I Help?  
As you develop a trusting relationship with your project team and the stakeholders they work with to successfully complete a project, offer extra support! Though any email support should always involve you copying the stakeholder, this effort takes the responsibility of 1 task off their plate. You could to this by:
  • Drafting mass emails to send to the organization
  • Reaching out to coordinate with their internal teams to accomplish information sharing
Communication, Communication, Communication!
Communication is a key asset for success in any project involving a team. There is a balance that you as a project manager have to maintain to communicate as effectively as possible. Some good tips to follow:
  • Never flood your stakeholders inboxes with multiple emails when they can all be condensed into 1 bulleted email that is concise and to the point
  • Provide your stakeholders with project updates. There are times when the project is being worked on but no visible action items are required of the team. Even so, you should provide them a weekly update and report the progress. This assures the team that expectations are being met
These may seem like common sense concepts, but with the increase of busy schedules and deadlines, stakeholder experience can get lost in the project process. The work that you provide a stakeholder isn’t just the finished product, but the experience you provided before, during, and after that implementation. For me, these key elements can make or break a client relationship.