Managing Stakeholder Expectations When Driving PLM Implementations
Driving change can be as easy or as difficult as managing people: aligning conflicting perspectives, finding compromises, negotiating new working practices, working around technical limitations and other implementation challenges. Driving PLM implementations requires ongoing alignment and solution development—not just the technical solution, but solution elements around processes, standards, governance, collaboration, data continuity, etc.
Managing stakeholders across functions is critical when implementing business change and PLM platforms. Identifying stakeholders is usually part of developing the project charter. It is also important to redirect other functions and people to the appropriate communication channel, as everyone is not a stakeholder.
In this post, I highlight key stakeholders across both internal and external groups, how they contribute to PLM implementations, how to interact with them, and what is expected from them.
Like with any project, the key stakeholder is the customer. Stakeholders vary depending on the project scope. The customer might be a business lead or department head; it is important to understand who is funding the project and what are the expectations of the budget owners.
Identifying PLM project stakeholders
Typical stakeholders involved in a PLM implementation project cover both business and IT functions, from business champions, change leads, key users / end-users, data consumers to support functions (HR, procurement, finance, etc.), solution architects, functional and business SMEs, IT architects, system experts, etc.
Developing the project charter includes mapping key stakeholders to the project scope, but interest and level of influence:
Who is / are funding the project?
Who are the end-user groups and how do they interact?
Who will contribute to the project as a key user to help define and validate the solution?
Who are key business knowledge holders?
Who have relevant experience and the ability to guide others in defining a fit-for-purpose solution?
Who are the change leads who will contribute to leadership decisions and represent the voice(s) of the customer?
It is important to involve stakeholders in all aspects and all phases of the project: from risk mitigations, issue resolution to planning, assumption validation, solution design and pilot, user validation, data cleansing and migration, deployment, training and support activities. Stakeholder involvement contributes to building confidence and trust throughout delivery.
Defining stakeholder expectations
Consulting and communicating with stakeholders require both formal governance and informal interactions. People might communicate differently based on their role on the project, also based on the forum, the context and the setting of the discussion. This includes formal and informal feedback and coaching about one’s expectations from the PLM project and the related business change.
Managing stakeholders include interfacing with both supporters and detractors; learning about their respective expectations is important to define the required levels of involvement.
“Getting feedback and interacting with both supporters and potential detractors is an essential part of the learning process of any change journey, acting on feedback and different, sometimes conflicting, perspectives.” (virtual+digital, 2020)
Documenting stakeholder expectations include defining critical success factors and acceptance statement in business terms:
Deriving measures of effectiveness
Defining business benefit statements
Understanding data quality and traceability success factors
Validating commitment levels
Expectations are typically captured in the form of goals and objectives, risks and issues, dependencies or constraints, requirements, etc. Based on the project context, it will be essential to incorporate the above considerations into regular status reports, link to the delivery process and framework, and enforce project governance.