I presented a webinar for Catalyze (www.mycatalyze.org) on February 14th entitled Designing a Sure-Fire Stakeholder Strategy. The presentation touched on the importance of business analysis planning, specifically planning for stakeholder communications. We had 150 attendees and I was not able to answer all of the questions that were submitted. I will answer the remaining questions in upcoming blog posts.
How do I manage a stakeholder that changes his mind and these changes cause large amounts of re-work. Any rules of thumb such as an extra 20% longer?
Great question. When we are planning and thinking about how best to communicate with our stakeholders we need to consider each stakeholder’s ability to provide requirements in a timely fashion. This includes considering stakeholders who may tell us one thing one day and something different the next. If you are fortunate enough to have personal experience with your stakeholders than you can plan for their individual idiosyncrasies (this is not a judgemental statement, we all have some percular ways of thinking and communicating!). If you don’t personally know a stakeholder, try to find someone who does. Ask questions informally to get a feel for the person’s style.
When building your task list and estimates, you should not explicitly say that you need more time with John because he changes his mind frequently, but you might build in more formal reviews and re-reviews with that particular stakeholder because you know this issue will come up. You also should alert the project manager that when dependencies are built into the project plan – beware that dependencies on John may be risky. The PM can also plan better with this knowledge.
We don’t always get the dream stakeholders – the people who are always availabile when you need them, always patient when explaining their needs, and always sure about what they want. We have to learn to plan for and work with whoever our stakeholders are and remember than variety is the spice of life. If all stakeholers could clearly articulate their needs, there would be no need for a business analyst!