Identifying the Drivers Supporters and Observers in Your Audience

After identifying everyone in your project audience, determine which of the following groups they fall into. Then you can decide whether to involve them and, if so, how and when.

^ Drivers: People who have some say in defining the results of your project. You're performing your project for these people.

^ Supporters: The people who help you perform your project. Supporters include individuals who authorize the resources for your project and who actually work on it.

^ Observers: People who are interested in the activities and results of your project. Observers have no say in your project and they're not actively involved in it. However, your project may affect them at some point in the future.

Categorizing audiences in this way helps you decide what information to seek from and share with each one and helps them clarify which project decisions to be involved in.

Consider that an information technology group has the job of modifying the layout and content of a monthly sales report for all sales representatives. The vice president of sales requested the project, and the chief information officer (CIO — the boss of the head of the information technology group) approved it. If you were the project manager for this project, you may consider categorizing your project's audiences as follows:

^ Drivers: The vice president of sales is a driver because he has specific reasons for revising the report. The CIO is a potential driver because she may hope to develop certain new capabilities for her group through this project. Individual sales representatives are all drivers for this project because they'll use the redesigned report to support their work.

i Supporters: The systems analyst who designs the revised report, the training specialist who trains the users, and the vice president of finance who authorizes the funds for printing the changes in the manual are all supporters.

i Observers: The head of the customer service department is a potential observer because he hopes your project will improve the chances for an improved problem-tracking system this year.

Beware of supporters who try to act like drivers. In the previous example, the analyst that finalizes the content and format of the report may try to include certain items that she thinks are helpful. However, only the drivers should determine the specific data that go into the report. The analyst just determines whether it's possible to include the desired data and what it will cost.

Keep in mind that one person can be both a driver and a supporter. The vice president of sales is a driver for the project to develop a revised monthly sales report. But this same person is also a supporter if he has to transfer funds from the sales department budget to pay for developing the report.

This section helps you identify when you need to involve drivers, supporters, and observers, and the best ways to keep them involved.

Deciding when to involve them

Projects pass through the following five stages as they progress from an initial idea to completion (see Chapter 1 for detailed explanations of these phases):

i Conceive i Define i Start i Perform i Close

Plan to involve drivers, supporters, and observers in each phase.


Involve drivers from the start to the finish of your project. Keeping them involved is critical because they define what your project should produce, and they evaluate your project's success when it's finished. Check out Table 3-2 to see how to keep drivers involved during the five phases.

Include a project champion

A project champion is a person in a high position in the organization who strongly supports your project; advocates for your project in disputes, planning meetings, and review sessions; and takes whatever actions are necessary to help ensure the successful completion of your project.

As soon as you start planning, find out whether your project has a champion. If it doesn't, try to recruit one. An effective champion has the following characteristics:

I Sufficient power and authority to resolve conflicts over resources, schedules, and technical issues

I A keen interest in the results of your project

I A willingness to have his or her name cited as a strong supporter of your project.

Table 3-2 Involving Drivers in the Different Phases of Your Project

Phase Involvement Level Rationale

Concept Heavy Identify and speak with as many drivers as possible. Their desires and your assessment of feasibility can influence whether you should pursue the project. If you uncover additional drivers later, explore with them the issues that led to the project; ask them to identify and assess any special expectations they may have.

Definition Moderate to heavy Consult with drivers to ensure your project plan addresses their needs and expectations. Have them formally approve the plan before you start the actual project work.

Start Moderate Announce and introduce the drivers to the project team. Having the drivers talk about their needs and interests reinforces the importance of the project and helps team members form a more accurate picture of project goals. Having the drivers meet team members increases the drivers' confidence that the members can successfully complete the project.


Table 3-2 (continued)

Phase Involvement Level Rationale

Perform Moderate Keep drivers apprised of project accom plishments and progress to sustain their ongoing interest and enthusiasm. Involving drivers during this phase also ensures that the results are meeting their needs.

Close Heavy Have drivers assess the project's results and determine whether their needs and expectations were met. Identify their recommendations for improving performance on similar projects in the future.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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