3 Essential Stakeholder Questions to Drive Success

Written by: Jonathan Hensley | Emerge Interactive

The greater the organizational complexity, the more critical it is to make sure that all of the stakeholders are in alignment on common goals.

The following are three key fundamental questions that every stakeholder, no matter their position in the organization, should know and understand in order to assure that everyone is moving towards the collective purpose of each digital initiative.

What is your vision for the project?

While this might seem obvious and redundant, our experience has shown that many times the vision is somewhat free form and open-ended. This creates a high-risk situation with too much room for interpretation, and where the vision itself is largely determined by the person reading the brief. In art and love it’s all well and good for “beauty” to be in the eye of the beholder, but, for your digital experience it can be disastrous. It is critical that all stakeholders within the organization are able to clearly and consistently articulate the vision of what the digital initiative is and what it is intended to achieve. This clarity of vision creates alignment and focus for everyone involved.

What does this outcome look like and mean for you within the context of your business function and role in the organization?

For example, if you are the COO and your mandate is to manage costs and operational efficiency, then your view of a given project that increases costs without a clear tangible benefit may disconnect you from the company’s digital experience goals. If you are disconnected, then the whole company suffers by not having the skill and insight of their COO and operations team to help champion the project towards its best possible outcome.

Likewise, if you’re the Head of Sales or Chief Marketing Officer, you are naturally focused on driving revenue and growth. This may give you a totally different set of short-term objectives that are at odds with the time and attention needed for the long-term outcomes that the company’s digital initiatives are aimed at. By answering and discussing it with your fellow stakeholders, you can create a shared understanding of the benefits to all departments, which will build alignment for your digital initiative.

Many times we help clients navigate answering these questions, providing a fresh, unbiased and unique point of view and lens on their digital initiatives. As you build your roadmap upon this foundation you are able to more effectively manage the complexities of your initiative, helping to streamline efficiencies and identify new avenues for increasing revenue, whether it be through subscription-first services, self-service models in your business, new revenue streams, or other tangible things that can increase the value of the overall investment.

What would it cost NOT to do this initiative?

Having every stakeholder address this question brings about a clear focus on the costs of not delivering on your high value/stakes digital initiatives. This can bring to light critical pain points whose context and resolution are essential to the forward growth of the company. Knowing what those pain points are can guide and improve the results of your digital project.

For example:

  • What are you worried about?
  • Are you doing this initiative because of competitive pressure or to differentiate the company from the competition?
  • Are you doing this because your customers are demanding it now or you foresee they will be demanding it in the future?
  • Are you trying to get ahead because you have some critical consumer insight that will be affecting the company?
  • Is there a change in policies or regulatory issues that may change the way your product or service can be delivered or deployed to your customers either globally or within an individual market sector?
  • For example, you may be producing an App, when Apple changes its policy for the App Store. This kind of policy change creates significant pressure to update the App to reflect upcoming policy changes. Otherwise, you risk losing margin or potential customers because you haven't kept up with the transition. By ensuring all stakeholders are keenly aware of the costs of not completing the digital initiative, you've created support for completing it—even with additional changes and expenses associated with the policy changes.

    The Organizing Framework

    In the best scenario these three fundamental questions become the organizing framework that all other issues are built around in order to understand how you can maximize digital initiatives for your business. Making sure you have stakeholders on the same page and understanding the value of what’s being created across the organization cannot be overemphasized. This foundation becomes your core proof point when engaging and soliciting other business units within the organization to become part of your project. Engaging all stakeholders helps identify all the critical interdependencies and provides the necessary understanding to propel your digital project to success.