As the business world continues to change rapidly, it’s interesting to see how organisations respond to those changes in their constant drive to deliver better projects and services. Here at Kahootz, we’ve noticed how agile project management is becoming an increasingly effective model for organisations of all shapes and sizes - as regular readers of this blog will know.
Meanwhile, our experience as a supplier of cloud collaboration tools to the public sector has allowed us to develop a strong understanding of stakeholder management and its importance - as well as how challenging this aspect of project delivery remains for many organisations.
These circumstances point to some interesting questions: Where does managing and engaging stakeholders fit into the agile methodology? And is there such thing as an agile stakeholder management tool?
Stakeholder management in the agile world
On the surface, agile project frameworks appear to allow little room for managing stakeholders - at least in the traditional sense. If we consider Scrum, arguably the most famous example of the agile methodology, there are just three recognised roles: the development team, the scrum master and the product owner.
Although the product owner is ostensibly responsible for understanding stakeholders’ expectations and sharing their goals with the development team, the streamlined nature of this framework means the stakeholders are not highly visible and easy to identify, as they perhaps would be in a more traditional project management structure.
So this is the first problem for organisations attempting to balance the agile project methodology with effective stakeholder management. The second, directly related challenge, relates to managing people’s expectations.
Of course, this is typically a crucial aspect of dealing with stakeholders. However, it can be particularly challenging in the agile world. Some of your stakeholders are likely to be unfamiliar with the concept and the shift to a new way of working may cause a sense of exclusion. Remember that many stakeholders won’t be in the workplace day-to-day, or sitting in on key meetings to see first-hand how agile is working. You must be prepared for plenty of questions from those not familiar with agile.
Communicate with an online workspace
The key to tackling both of these problems is communication. Agile processes only work when people have a clear and unified idea of what they’re trying to achieve. This requires everyone on the team to communicate about goals and update each other daily on progress. Similarly, building effective relationships with stakeholders depends on the lines of communication being open for project managers to inform, consult and collaborate with stakeholders as and when necessary.
In today’s highly dispersed, mobile and flexible working environment, that’s easier said than done.
So what is the best way to achieve this level of communication? This brings us back to that agile stakeholder management tool. In reality, organisations need an agile project management tool that can also support their activities with stakeholders. They need an online workspace that suits team members and stakeholders alike - a flexible, secure space that can be customised to suit whoever logs in.