It's no secret that stakeholder engagement is crucial to the success of any design project. Stakeholders, including product owners, developers, or end-users, all have a vested interest in the final product. Therefore, building trust and respect with your stakeholders leads to more constructive dialogues which are the key to a successful project. By engaging with the stakeholders, designers can gain valuable insights and ensure that the final product will meet their needs and expectations. In this article, we would like to dive deeper into the stakeholder engagement and strategies that we successfully implemented in the past to run our projects smoother.
Identifying Stakeholders and Their Needs
At the outset of each project, our primary objective is to identify all stakeholders involved and gain insight into their needs, expectations, and thought processes. This crucial step enables us to map out the relationships between the various stakeholders and stakeholder groups, determine which stakeholders are vital to the project, and evaluate the impact they can have on it. A diagrammatic representation of these relationships can help us achieve a comprehensive understanding of the project's key players, including their decision-making power.
While traditional stakeholders such as product owners and developers are always included, it is equally important to identify and consider other stakeholder groups, even those who may have less influence or impact on the project. Through our years of experience, we have discovered that the most valuable insights often come from unexpected sources, such as customer hotlines or individuals in dealerships with extensive experience in face-to-face customer interactions.
Stakeholders can also be classified based on their level of interest or attitude toward the project. This categorisation enables us to tailor our engagement strategies and select the appropriate approach for each stakeholder group. For instance, stakeholders who are broadly supportive of the project can be valuable advocates for our design, while those who are skeptical can be won over through targeted engagement strategies.
Plan how to engage with Stakeholders
Effective stakeholder communication is the cornerstone of successful cooperation. At Kontrolka, we understand that dedicating ample time to listening to stakeholder opinions and understanding their concerns is crucial to achieving healthy collaboration. From experience, we know that a lack of allocated communication time can lead to a poor flow of information and misunderstandings, which can ultimately result in wasted time and resources. Poor communication can even cause stakeholders to become disengaged, frustrated, or misinformed about project goals and progress.
To keep stakeholders fully engaged throughout the design process, we utilise a variety of engagement activities beyond traditional meetings, progress updates, and design presentations. Workshops, for example, are an effective means of engaging stakeholders and promoting collaboration between designers and stakeholders to develop solutions that meet their needs. It is also good practice to evaluate the plan in dedicated retrospectives to identify pain points and streamline the process.
At Kontrolka, we recognize the importance of engaging with key stakeholders outside the project scope as well. By inviting them to company events, talks, or parties, we develop personal relationships that foster deeper understanding of who they are, how they think, and how to communicate with them more effectively.
Managing Stakeholder Feedback and Expectations
From our experience, a well-set-up feedback loop with clearly stated channels, timelines, evaluation, and prioritisation process is essential in keeping the goals and expectations of the whole team and stakeholders in alignment through the whole process until the finish line. It facilitates the flow of information across different teams. It enables the team to derive as much value from the insights as possible. Since it helps to recognise workable and most efficient solutions to the problems that have been highlighted, it helps to overcome road blockers faster. And of course, being faster in solving issues means minimising the costs of design and development.
Our success story
We are no strangers to tackling complex stakeholder relationships. We worked together on OEM’s products integrating to their teams and building meaningful relationships as well as solving conflicts in process through setting up workshops, redefining communication channels and setting up proper team structures as well as reaching to new places to establish new channels of information.
Discover our innovative ALTRO concept, developed through our stakeholders' valuable insights.
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Kontrolka is a young team of HMI experts who strive to push user experience to its limits by developing innovative solutions for tomorrow's technology. We inspire and motivate our clients to achieve success.