How To Keep Darth Vader Happy With Project Progress

How To Keep Darth Vader Happy With Project Progress

From my last post we established that there are 4 types of stakeholders and in this post I will look in more detail at one of the types. In this post I will cover who is likely to be in this stakeholder type and how they should be communicated to. As a bonus I will also include the template that I use that you can freely download and use.

How To Keep Darth Vader Happy With Project Progress
To recap there are 4 types of stakeholders

  1. High Power and Interested People
  2. High Power and Less Interested People
  3. Low Power and Interested People
  4. Low Power and Less Interested People

The type of stakeholder we will look at today is someone with a high level of interest and a lot of power over the project. An example of someone who would be in this group would be the project sponsor. They will be funding the project and therefore have the power to stop the project. They are also likely to benefit from the success of the project. This video clip from Star Wars is a great example of a stakeholder with high power and interest.

The communication to this group needs to be frequent and at a high level. I recommend communicating to this group on a weekly basis. With a short statement on what has been achieved this week and what will be done next week. Also make them aware that the project remains on track in terms of the schedule and is on or under budget. If the project deviates and is likely to go over budget or run behind do not wait to communicate to them as part of the weekly schedule.

Make sure if you hit a problem they hear it from you first and not someone else. This will demonstrate that you are in control of the project. However when you go to them with the problem do not look to them to come up with a solution. Go there with here is the problem and these are the number of different ways it can be solved. Make sure along with any costs you highlight the pros and cons of each option. Then recommend which option you think is best and why.

While it is good practice to go to them with the problem and how it can be fixed sometimes you do not have the time or a member of the project team has to investigate before a solution can be identified. It is critical that you get to them first with an outline of the problem and tell them a member of the project team is investigating. Then give them a date/ time when you will come back with an update.

This helps keep your high power and high interested stakeholders on your side. By doing this when someone approaches them about the problem they are already aware and can say yes the project manager is on the case and will be giving me a progress update on this date. This makes everyone appear in control both you and the sponsor. No matter how urgent the problem is people will have confidence that the problem will be sorted.

As an example this is the template that I use to give a weekly update to my high interest and high power stakeholders.

How to do you keep your high interest and high power stakeholders updated on your project?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • PM-by-PM

    Hi Barry, Good one. A PM should earn the trust of stakeholders. Many projects are challenged due to lack of stakeholder support. I usually advise my students to have informal communication channels along with formal ones.

    Praveen Malik

  • This was a really helpful article! I am currently a student and use a simple version of task and time tracking called for our smaller club projects to keep our sponsors updated. As I progress, is there another platform that is still easy to use and easy to update?