How do you communicate with stakeholders? You have identified and analyzed your stakeholders. Ideally you have also carried out a prioritization, because not all participants are as important as each other for a project or a business. Now it is worth developing a communication plan and determining how and how often to communicate with whom. Through communication, you get early feedback, opinions and impressions, encouragement or opposition. This information is important to successfully design your project and avoid conflicts.
How do you structure your communication? You can differentiate between internal and external stakeholders and thereby link between them internally in roles, features or organs (supervisory boards, steering committees, work councils, etc). If you know the availability and preferred communication channels then you should consider these. Many people like reading e-mails, others prefer a short SMS or a tweet. Many people prefer the four-eyed conversation and others like to go to meetings to discuss themes in a group. Ideally, establish communication that
- Adds up the workload and return for participants, that means the relationship between the amount of detailed information and the gain of information is balanced.
- Can vary the amount and depth of information (e.g. external clients probably don’t need to get all internal memos).
- Adapts the form (verbal or written) to the recipients, maybe also depending on the meaning of the information.
- Catches on to all employed mediums, like e-mails, phone calls, tweets, Facebook messages, What’sApp messages, blogs, etc.
- Corresponds to the type of documentation of the situation (files, letters, e-mails, progress reports, problem reports, technical specifications, protocols, etc).
- Defines the language and mediums being used (diagrams, notations, graphics, dashboards, etc).
- Determines the place and frequency (weekly meetings, monthly information events, daily newsletters, etc.)
- Provides escalation levels, e.g., if quick decisions have to be made.
Communication is not one-sided, the stakeholders communicate with you, too. And you communicate amongst yourselves. Have you defined the framework under which this happens? Do you set up discussion groups, enable an exchange in open spaces, define a primary contact person for the field? The possibilities are diverse.