Up to 90% of a project manager’s job revolves around communication. Without effective communication within the project team, conflicts can arise and projects can fail

Transparency requires maintaining open, two-way communication with stakeholders about the status of a campaign. It also keeps clients and other stakeholders up-to-date on campaign progress. 

When your team is working on a new or long-term client-facing project, it can be difficult to get and keep individual stakeholders on your side. Read on to find out how offering project transparency can help win the confidence and trust of even the most skeptical stakeholder, and set your campaign up for success.

What do we mean by stakeholders?

Stakeholders in project management are people who will be affected by the outcome of a campaign. 

Stakeholders can also impact the outcome of your campaign as they often have control over knowledge and resources you need. Whether it’s helping you define project requirements or approving a request for more funding, stakeholders affect how successful any project or campaign turns out. 

Stakeholders can refer to the members of your team, other project or campaign managers in your company, company executives, project sponsors, customers, and end-users of your project deliverables. 

Types of stakeholders and their interests

Stakeholders can be characterized and grouped in a number of different ways. One standard method for grouping stakeholders is by their relationship to your campaign: 

Primary stakeholders are the people that will be impacted the most by the outcome of your campaign. This type of stakeholder would include your client, your team, and the end-viewers of the campaign materials. 

Secondary stakeholders are those that will be indirectly impacted by your campaign project. These people may include your competition, other project managers within your company, and resource managers in your business. It could even include your local community, your suppliers, vendors, and anyone else who could be affected by whether your project succeeds or fails.  

Key stakeholders are people who will not only be impacted by your campaign but have the power to have a direct impact on it. Key stakeholders can also be primary or secondary stakeholders. This group typically includes your company executives, project sponsor, and client.

How do you define a list of relevant stakeholders?

The first step to identifying stakeholders in project management is creating a list for each of the three types discussed above. Once you’ve done that, you and your team can then brainstorm who falls into one or more of the stakeholder types. 

Once you’ve completed the list, you can start categorizing stakeholders to determine which ones are most relevant and will need the highest level of project transparency. 

One way to group stakeholders is by the power or influence they have over your campaign and the level of interest they have in its success or failure. 

As you can see in the matrix below, anyone with a lot of power and a lot of interest should be managed closely. That means these stakeholders need complete project visibility. These are the people you want to be continuously communicating with. 

Stakeholders who don’t hold much sway over your project and aren’t that interested in its outcomes typically only require minimal effort. The people in this box might be satisfied with a simple, one-page weekly status report

Stakeholder prioritization grid

Image source: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_07.htm

Why is transparency important for stakeholders?

Why is transparency important? When it comes to a client-facing project, transparency is key for one simple yet critical reason: it builds trust. When you earn your stakeholders’ trust, you’re far more likely to earn their cooperation and support. 

Experienced stakeholders don’t expect every campaign to go off without a hitch. But, if they don’t find out about issues until well after they arise, it will reduce their faith in you. They may also worry about what else you could be hiding. 

Trust is crucial to maintaining positive stakeholder relationships. And the importance of stakeholders in a project cannot be overstated. The support of your stakeholders is critical for successful projects. 

After all, if you don’t have two-way transparency with your client from the beginning, you could end up being blindsided later on by a concern or requirement that you knew nothing about. This kind of oversight can result in missed deadlines, budget overspends, and a damaged relationship with client

How to increase project transparency with stakeholders

Here are seven tips on how to increase project transparency on your campaigns:

  1. Create a stakeholder register to track stakeholders. This should include their name, contact information, preference for frequency and type of contact (i.e., would they prefer to receive updates and information face-to-face or via email), and where they fall in the stakeholder matrix. 
  2. Communicate upfront about the level of transparency. This can include letting stakeholders know what data or project dashboards they have access to, who on your team is their contact person, how frequently you will check in with them, and other relevant information. 
  3. Let your stakeholders know what’s required of them. Whether it’s asking them to attend team meetings, requiring them to approve documents, or requesting they acknowledge your emails, it’s important you communicate early about what you want out of your stakeholders.
  4. Involve them in key decisions and milestones. Whenever you have a significant campaign milestone or decision, it’s a good idea to include your key stakeholders. This can allow you to benefit from their knowledge and experience and increase buy-in.  
  5. Be proactive about difficult stakeholders. While it may be unpleasant communicating with a difficult stakeholder, leaving them in the dark can result in unexpected problems later. Keep communication positive and focused on solutions rather than problems. Trying different communication methods and seeking to establish common ground may also help. 
  6. Communicate consistently. You don’t want an overwhelming blast of communication one week and crickets the next. You also don’t want to give different stakeholders contradictory updates. It’s important that both the frequency and content of your communications are consistent throughout the campaign. 
  7. Automate transparency. Enable stakeholders to get automated notifications about task status and access real-time project reports. Automation will allow you to boost transparency while reducing the amount of time you and your team have to spend on providing updates.

Team collaboration software can help you optimize your transparency with both internal and external stakeholders. The right software provides real-time visibility at every stage, allowing your stakeholders to see what’s going on with their project at any given time. 

Check out a free 14-day trial of Wrike’s team collaboration software to see how it can boost your campaign transparency.