How to Manage Website Project Stakeholders in Large Organisations

Too Many Website Stakeholders? Here’s our Project Guide to Making Sense of the Noise

  1. Perform Website Requirement Gathering with all Departments
  2. Facilitate Workshops and Interviews with your Digital Agency
  3. Establish Clear Website Goals and Priorities
  4. Use RACI Matrices and RAID Logs to Keep Track of Project Risks
  5. Account for Key Stakeholder Availability
  6. Assemble a Diverse Working Group with Digital Expertise
  7. Understand your CEO’s Expectations
  8. Employ Digital Project Management Best Practices
  9. Foster Continuous Communication and Alignment
  10. Celebrate Website Project Milestones and Success

 

When tackling a major website redesign for a large organisation, one of the biggest challenges is aligning the number of departments and stakeholders involved.

Each group has its own priorities, perspectives, and demands on what the new website project should accomplish.

Without a structured approach to website requirements gathering and managing inputs, website redesign projects risk becoming derailed by disconnect and conflicting goals.

This guide outlines key strategies for successfully managing stakeholder management on an enterprise-level website project.

It’s a challenge that all website project leads will encounter at some point – managing a huge number of inputs from their organisation. Read on to see how to tackle the inputs your team will have and balance their needs for strong overall project outcomes.

 


Key Steps for Managing Many Stakeholders on Website Projects

 

1. Perform Website Requirement Gathering with all Departments

The first step is to collect detailed website requirements from every relevant department.

This is a piece of business analysis in itself; how do you determine who will be interested, and how to avoid wasting others’ time?

Some will be impacted by the new website directly, and some may just have a vested interest in the project’s success. Sending out a preliminary questionnaire can kick off this web discovery process.

If you start by giving each department some relevant data on your current site’s performance, traffic, and behavioural analytics, this can further inform stakeholders and elicit more insightful feedback.

Website analytics showing on a laptop, ready to be shared with website stakeholders

For example, the marketing team at a university may have assumptions about which pages drive the most prospective student inquiries. But analyzing actual site metrics could reveal that pages highlighting campus life and student testimonials outperform details about academic programs alone.

You might find our article on requirements gathering techniques useful.

 

2. Facilitate Workshops and Interviews with your Digital Agency

Once a web agency or digital development partner is selected, a series of workshops and stakeholder interviews should take place. Even if requirements were previously gathered, these face-to-face sessions allow stakeholders to directly convey their perspectives to the creative team.

Workshops should be problems-focused rather than solutions-focused. That means uncovering what stakeholders are looking for, rather than what they think they need to solve the problem.

Patrick Stafford at Invision says “Stakeholders are just people with problems, and once they realize you understand those problems, like growth targets or KPIs, they’re going to be more willing to listen to what you have to say.”

Quite often, even if you are clear on the needs of different departments, it’s easy to forget that websites are a source of pride for many people.

Everyone from the accounts department to the CEO has a vested interest in the company’s corporate website exemplifying their own personal values. It helps people to feel proud of their workplace. Speaking directly to the digital agency can help people to feel like their voices are heard and as if they have contributed towards the project’s success.

Need Help on Your Own Enterprise Website Project?

At Crucible, we are specialists in website design for large organisations. Some of our strongest design and build projects, like this website for CCDC, have made a transformative impact on our clients’ digital outcomes – many with in excess of 30 stakeholders. Get in touch today for a quotation or a no-obligation discussion of your project.

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Project management matrix to help with website project prioritisation


 

3. Establish Clear Website Goals and Priorities

With so many stakeholder inputs, it’s crucial to determine core goals that serve as guiding principles for the new website. Is the primary purpose to drive e-commerce sales, generate leads, recruit employees, or disseminate information? Prioritizing one or two key aims for the project provides a unifying strategic vision.

Robert Mills at Envato suggests “For some organisations content production for websites is like a conveyor belt that’s always moving. There’s no limit to the amount of content that can be added and this presents challenges around governance, quality and control”.

Teams should be careful to avoid this problem. Creating website content and user experience requests that aren’t focused on a project’s key goals can spiral out of control. This can risk creating a website which is more for your stakeholders than your users.

If certain minor stakeholders are particularly vocal, this can also throw off the priorities of a project. Be certain to get broad approval of a website’s goals early on in the project to control for issues such as these.

 

4. Use RACI Matrices and RAID Logs to Keep Track of Project Risks

A RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix outlines who needs to be involved in each project stage and decision. By keeping one active for each stage of a project, you can be assured that key stakeholders are involved at the relevant points.

This helps to minimise unnecessary involvement for busy stakeholders, and helps to minimise the risk of a senior stakeholder adversely affecting the project by weighing in at the wrong moment.

A corresponding RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) log tracks areas of concern and external impacts.

It’s important both to populate a RAID log, but also to keep one updated throughout your project. By revisiting the RAID log week after week, you can ensure actions are taken to minimise risks on a rolling basis, meaning that you are prepared should any issues arise. Employing these project management tools distributes accountability while mitigating risks.

 

5. Account for Key Stakeholder Availability

Make note of any key stakeholders’ scheduled holidays or leaves of absence that could coincide with important project milestones. Having backup representatives avoids roadblocks when critical feedback or approvals are required from certain departments.

This is particularly important in organisations such as universities and educational organisations, who typically take holidays at similar periods over the summer holidays. Losing several key stakeholders at once can easily derail a website project deadline.

Building in ‘slack’ to the project timeline is also key in helping you manage downtime from certain stakeholders. And, sometimes, when trying to process signoff from multiple stakeholders, one will just take longer than the others to provide feedback.

 

 

6. Assemble a Diverse Working Group with Digital Expertise

Creating a cross-departmental working group helps ensure all vital company perspectives are represented across the project. This core team should include well-informed representatives from key departments like sales, marketing, customer service, IT, finance, and legal. Their involvement throughout keeps your new corporate website project aligned with the full extent of your organisational needs.

They also function as your website project champions, ensuring ongoing enthusiasm for the project through key departments across the organisation. Your working group are also your eyes and ears across the organisation. With their help, you can be certain that no key business developments that might impact the website designs are missed.

 

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7. Understand your CEO’s Expectations

If there’s one thing that’s consistent across all companies, it’s that CEOs and their expectations are inconsistent. Some executives prefer a hands-on approach to significant initiatives like a corporate website overhaul, whereas others are keen to leave this to the subject matter experts.

An upfront discussion with executive sponsors such as your CEO and CTO clarifies their desired level of involvement in the project. It also minimises the risk of unwelcome or unexpected involvement from them at a later date.

One key aspect that your team and your agency might commonly overlook is the idea of getting positive signoff from senior stakeholders. It is easy for C-suite to provide a rubber stamp and ‘wave something through’ without really considering how important their signoff is to the project’s success.

You should press, wherever possible, for your CEO to give direct, impactive, affirmative signoff. You might aim to achieve this with project signoff sheets, or a short form to fill in. That means rather than saying “looks good” they have to comment more specifically. It means far more for the success of the project for your CEO to say “I think the layout is exactly what we need”.

User Experience designs being presented on screen to a panel of website stakeholders

 

8. Employ Digital Project Management Best Practices

Applying standard methodologies like Agile or Waterfall can ensure your project has governance and direction. Depending on your organisation’s capabilities and project scope, choosing the right methodology is important. You also need to be ready to run it effectively. Your digital agency will be able to advise you on the choice of methodology and support you in running it.

For the largest projects with the longest run times, Agile is likely to be strongest. The flexibility of this model ensures that it can respond to change effectively across the project lifespan.

In smaller projects, Waterfall can be more effective, as it establishes clear goals at the outset and aims to follow them through to completion.

Otherwise, it’s important to establish a centralized system for document sharing, communication threads, and project artifacts. Frequent status reports for all stakeholders promote visibility and check-ins. Crucible uses a PM system called ClickUp, which helps us manage projects, tickets, documentation and planning in one place.

 

9. Foster Continuous Communication and Alignment

“Without intentional communication, stakeholders may unintentionally work against the project’s success” says the team at Lucidchart.com. Scheduling bi-weekly sync meetings, posting regular updates to a core channel, and flagging potential roadblocks early keeps everyone aligned. Bringing things back to your RAID log regularly can also help with this.

Projects often go off the rails if this definite, ongoing communication becomes inconsistent. It means key stakeholders and members of the team lose track of project progress. Even if it’s only a five minute call weekly, holding sessions like this can help to keep track of key action points and where they sit.

 

10. Celebrate Website Project Milestones and Success

Large website initiatives can be a marathon – often lasting a year or more.

Amplifying progress milestones and wins helps sustain momentum internally and morale amongst the wide network of contributors. Public recognition of key champions and contributors, and continued executive support reinforce prioritization amidst competing organisational priorities.

Keeping all of your key stakeholders and the wider organisation abreast of where you are in the project is vital to help maintain this support.

Present progress updates and show key deliverables at every opportunity. This is particularly true if key assets have been signed off and you have the opportunity to drum up excitement for the next stage.

And remember, maintaining your own energy and enthusiasm for the project is important to drive it forwards.

 


 

By implementing these strategies, you can help your large organisations proactively manage their complex stakeholder landscape. It’s very easy to underestimate the challenges in revamping a website, despite the importance of the project. Organisations often need clear reminders as to how vital a strong result is, considering websites serve as the digital face of the entire enterprise. With clear goals, an inclusive process, and a best-practice framework, even the most daunting website overhaul can be completed successfully.

Do you Need Help Managing Stakeholders on Your Next Website Project?

At Crucible, we’re a digital agency with large organisations as one of our key specialisms, having worked on websites for international consultancies, universities and manufacturing groups among others. Get in touch today to speak to one of our consultants about your next website project and we’ll support you towards better digital growth.

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