How to establish effective communication during PLM deployment? A Stakeholder Analysis Guide.

27/08/2015 08:38

In managing a PLM deployment initiative the project team has to rely on the support of the departments involved in the change process. Following the advice that the initiative must be supported from the top and communicated as such, the PLM project team assumes that there is enough support from each department to get the change accomplished. But is this really the case?

Actors in change processes know that communication is important to overcome the fears and concerns aroused by change. Understanding that communication is a key requirement does not necessarily equate to an emphasis on communication activities. There are many of other urgent competing topics to manage: negotiations, definitions of new procedures, selection of tools, data migration, software deployment activities, training, etc.

PLM is now entering the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sectors of business. As would be expected the SMEs have an even harder time identifying the resources necessary to accomplish this transformation.  An efficient implementation that avoids costly iteration can be successfully achieved if the PLM team gets the internal support required. Though consultants can provide needed expertize in the methodology there is no alternative to an internal cross functional team leading the transformation with full support from all levels of the organization.

People support the project if they understand that the project targets are beneficial for their department, the organization and themselves. To understand the benefits communication is needed. How can the PLM project team be sure that the communication has reached its target audience and they will get the required support at all levels?

If the PLM project team wants to be sure about the effectiveness of their communication they have to measure it. The measurement technique is the stakeholder analysis. Using measurement results they can optimize the communication. This reduces resistance to change, the PLM project gets the required support, and a smooth implementation of the project targets is possible.

As a PLM project manager you may ask: "Why do we need a stakeholder analysis? Can’t we just ask the people?"

People promoting the change tend to proactively seek out information that confirms their attitude about the initiative. They assume that everybody in the organization understands the intention of the initiative and it will be a great success. There is a risk that they ignore the subtle early warning signs of problems until it is too late. The stakeholder analysis should give a realistic picture about the resistance to change and consequently an estimate of the communication efforts required to accomplish the change. Additionally it should uncover PLM deployment issues, which need more guidance or perhaps adaptations of the processes.

The Technology

How much effort is required to prepare a stakeholder analysis?  How much time to execute it?

A guide for the execution of a stakeholder analysis can be found in the Quip folder "Stakeholder Analysis". (Quip account needed. Why to use Quip? See below.) The guide explains how to accomplish a stakeholder analysis step by step.

It assumes that the organization has a PLM vision, and that it is clearly communicated. It also assumes that the benefits of PLM are communicated as well.

The guide then explains how to select the stakeholders. It contains a prepared sample questionnaire, which has to be adapted to the PLM vision of your organization. In addition you will find hints about how to execute the interview and fill in the stakeholder table representing the results of the interviews.

The stakeholder table generates results regarding the following questions:

  • Do stakeholders understand the PLM vision?
  • Do they see the benefits for their department, their organization, and themselves?
  • Which disadvantages of the PLM deployment do they see?
  • Who supports the initiative and who is in opposition and why?
  • What are the potential alliances between the stakeholders supporting or opposing the initiative?

Based on the results of the stakeholder analysis your communication plan can be adapted to solve emerging PLM issues or any necessary adaptations of the processes.

Why to use Quip?

You may ask: "Why the guide is published in Quip and is not just a part of this blog?"

Quip is a free, relatively simple web-based document editor equipped with strong support for collaboration and text change control. It is one solution that could support collaboration across organizations to improve e.g. this already available guide for the stakeholder analysis.

If generic, applied and proven PLM methodologies and techniques would be available as bookshelf knowledge on a public platform, they could provide support in finding optimal solutions for organizations in particular SMEs on the PLM journey.

Using, for example, this suggestion for the execution of a stakeholder analysis insights, refinement ideas, and lessons learned, would be available to develop a more advanced strategy earlier in the process.

As a side effect, contributors can engage in social interaction using collaborative platforms and draw conclusions from it for their organization.

There is no limitation to the possibilities for contributing under the Creative Commons CC-BY license using an “Open Knowledge” approach.

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