Stakeholder Meetings

An organization's stakeholders have a vested interest in all of the business’s decisions. When making updates to primary assets, such as an organization’s website, the involvement of stakeholders can make or break your project. To best align the feedback of these key members, stakeholder meetings are essential.

An important meeting with stakeholders looming on the calendar can make even experienced entrepreneurs, founders, and other business leaders feel nervous and overwhelmed. There’s a lot on the line when you’re speaking to people who hold you accountable for the business’s successes and failures. They want confirmation that their investment is growing and that the company is going in the right direction. In these situations, communicating the right information in the right way is critical.

Who is a stakeholder?

Follow the previous example and say your organization will update its website.  In this case, stakeholders would usually be individuals who are paying for the venture or who directly work with the website.  Depending on the type of organization, here is a list of potential “stakeholder” roles:

  • Director
  • Deputy Director
  • Chief Information, Financial, Executive Officer
  • Project/Program Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Analyst
  • Comptroller
  • Commissioner
  • Analyst (most likely the person(s) working with the site)

These stakeholders are pulled in at multiple points on the timeline to stay informed and provide insight on whether the project is going according to plan.

What are the types of stakeholder meetings?

Kick-off Meeting

So, the client has determined they want to update their website and the stakeholders we need to keep involved.  Now what?

The first major stakeholder meeting is called the kick-off.  It includes all major stakeholders and outlines the project’s purpose, goals, and scope.  It gives the project team a proper way to introduce themselves and explain what to expect from the project.  This includes how involved each stakeholder will be and how much communication they should expect.  The core team may only meet once every so often to review bigger updates.  However, there may also be a week-to-week team that meets as such to make incremental decisions about the website as it develops.

Stakeholder Interviews

The stakeholders now know what to expect and when to expect it.  The next step is to conduct stakeholder interviews.

Generally, your stakeholder interview questions should allow you to gather insight into the client’s goals/perceptions, message and user engagement, content, administration, and vision.  Here are some typical stakeholder interview questions:

  • What do you believe are the three main reasons people visit your site?
  • Do you seek to increase interaction or feedback with your website visitors on the new site? If so, what information are you seeking from visitors? How will you utilize this information?
  • What are the three most important items related to your department’s web presence that you want to be easily accessible and visible on the new website? Why?
  • Explain your staff’s current process to add or edit content on the existing website.
  • What is your department’s vision for the next five years? For example, will any new programs or service areas be added?

Ideally, stakeholder interviews are conducted one-on-one, so honest feedback is noted. Answers to questions like these can help update and improve the requirements in the project plan. Collecting valuable insight into the website’s strengths and weaknesses can help turn pain points into solutions, resulting in more efficient business processes.

Additional Stakeholder Meetings

Further meetings are held anywhere on the timeline after stakeholder interviews and before going live so stakeholders can stay informed during the project’s development phase. These meetings may also result in decisions to change the project’s direction. The stakeholders’ opinions are of the utmost importance, making these meetings necessary for the project’s direction.

What is on the agenda of a typical stakeholder meeting?

Here are a list of things you might see on the agenda in a stakeholder meeting:

  • Project timeline
  • Milestone tracker
  • Milestone status
  • Top Action Items
  • Issues & Risks
  • Next Steps