Engagement is an important aspect in many projects—whether it’s with other project management team members, stakeholders, end users, or external business partners—but sparking real interest in people outside the project team can sometimes be difficult. There are a number of approaches a good project advocate can take to make their efforts really count, but how can they get others thinking (and acting) along the same lines? Below are a handful of simple strategies to get you started.
Encourage team members to interact with end users. Open lines of communication are the best way to ensure all needs, requests, and concerns are brought to the PMP team’s attention early. Rather than creating unnecessary bottlenecks, a commitment to project advocacy should be driving PMOs to solicit end user input through as many channels as possible. Conversations don’t have to be formal, but they do need to go both ways. When project updates are released, make sure end users know that team members are available to answer any questions. As project milestones are achieved, even minor ones, empower team members to ask end users how things are going from their perspective.
Invite stakeholders into the trenches. Project champions, especially high-level ones, don’t need to be part of the day-to-day operations. But it can be useful if they understand a project’s impacts on end users at a granular level. Make the majority of project meetings open to stakeholders, and try to get them to attend at least occasionally. Partner them with team members during informal discussions with end users. Encourage them to learn about the project’s challenges, and ensure they know which end user groups are likely to be affected by them. By bringing stakeholders closer to the project’s inner workings, they’ll be better equipped to understand the genesis of end user requests and concerns.
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