Activity 1.1

Collaborative Planning MethodologyStep 1: Identify and Validate

Activity 1.1: Engage Sponsor and Assess Stakeholder Needs

In this activity, planners engage with stakeholders who are facing a challenge or have an opportunity that they would like help to address. This may be through stakeholders reporting a need or planners eliciting needs from the stakeholders. During this activity, planners interview stakeholders to get a more clear understanding of their needs including the risks and impacts of the needs not being addressed. The risks and impacts are an important factor in determining the quantity and timing of resources required to plan and address the stated needs. The impacts in particular are often a strong motivator for action, as they communicate what happens if action is not taken. For instance, if an organization does not commit to a standard approach for information exchanges, custom interfaces may cost more to develop and decision makers may be delayed in receiving timely information.

Knowledge of the needs, risks, and impacts helps the planners determine the actual performance gaps that need to be resolved. Performance gaps may vary from details like slow server response times for an application to very broad gaps like being unable to share information between Departments with shared missions. These performance gaps are a start to stakeholders focusing on outcomes that are targeted, quantified, and able to be positioned as the focus of the planning effort at hand.

In this activity, tasks begin with engaging the sponsor, business owners, and other stakeholders. These are the individuals that planners must interview to gather information about challenges, risks, and overall performance in order to formulate the needs that are common between individuals. These conversations result in stakeholder needs and a determination of the most appropriate sponsor to address those stakeholder needs.

The following visual illustrates the tasks within this activity.



Engage the sponsors, business owners, and other stakeholders 

Planners use this CPM when there is an individual or group with a need that they would like to have addressed. The first order of business is to engage with this individual or group to understand more about their needs. Once a better understanding of the needs has been gathered, it is important to identify the stakeholders (e.g. sponsors, leaders, customers) that appear to be associated with this stated need. Each stakeholder may have a different perspective on how to address the stated need; the applicability of those suggestions is assessed in future steps. In this task the stakeholders must be engaged, either by planners or the originator of the need, to explain the role of planners and to schedule time to meet with the stakeholders. In the following tasks, the stakeholders must provide their perspectives to better shape the articulation of needs.

Discuss the business challenges, risks, and performance with Stakeholders 

It is critical to engage stakeholders to identify their key business needs, challenges, risks, and their desired objectives and outcomes. Stakeholders must be engaged and planners may use the most appropriate method for the project. For instance, stakeholders could be engaged in working sessions that are scripted and include prepared materials. Also, stakeholders could receive data calls to collect their key business needs, objectives, and desired outcomes. In many instances, an interview or facilitated session is an ideal way to extract from the stakeholders their perspectives. A communications plan for the project may be appropriate to define the tactics for reaching stakeholders or others for these early discussions and all communications through all steps of the CPM.

Prior to the stakeholder conversations, customer, business process, and technology performance information must be collected to identify, quantify, and prioritize performance gaps between current and target performance metrics. Identifying performance gaps includes a review of any pre-existing performance information, oversight reports, customer surveys, or known deficiencies in achieving stated performance metrics. This pre-review of performance information will help in facilitating the stakeholder conversations and will help more quickly evolve the focus of the stakeholders from challenges and risks to performance gaps.

During stakeholder interviews there may be several prominent issues beyond the original project need that arise. It is important to understand not just the originally stated need, but to also evolve the thinking around other stated needs by gaining the perspectives of the larger stakeholder community. Focusing on business challenges and risks generally elicits the most robust feedback that can then be translated into performance gaps.

Identify the common business challenges to determine stakeholder needs 

In most cases, the stakeholders will have very similar issues or priorities. The fact that the stakeholders are affiliated in the previous steps with the originally stated need means a high probability that the stakeholders face common challenges. Whether there is immediate consensus or not, it is ultimately important for stakeholders to recognize and identify with the business challenges that are common to the group so that planning activities can be performed as a group, to ultimately address the challenges in unison.

The stakeholder conversations in the previous task resulted in documented risks, impacts, and performance gaps. Creating major categories from this feedback and organizing the feedback within those categories is useful for looking at trends and commonality of opinions. It is also useful to look at the feedback from the dimensions of geography, seniority, employment role, and other factors that might lead to trends that are not universal but are noticeable within a cross section of the stakeholder community.

Assign the Sponsor with the appropriate authorities 

There are positive and negative aspects to being the sponsor for a planning effort. The most significant positive aspect is to be in a position of leadership for the planning itself. The leadership position affords the sponsor with a unique opportunity to shape the future. The most significant negative aspect is the dedication of time to the effort. The sponsor must be current on the actions and recommendations of planners and the stakeholders in order to represent the project interests as required.

Generally, if the focus is on a single organizational group, selection of the sponsor is a straightforward decision. If, however, the focus of the planning includes multiple organizational groups within the same organization, the representatives from each organizational group must select the single sponsor. Note that in cases involving multiple discrete and separate organizations, there must be several sponsors at peer levels.

It is important to educate the stakeholders and even the sponsor on the role of the sponsor. Some sponsor candidates will be more qualified than others based on the time and leadership requirements of the position. Optimally, the sponsor must provide visionary leadership and play an active role in shaping the direction of the planning.

Overall, a sponsor must have the following characteristics: effective communicator, qualified decision maker, talented leader, respected within the affected organizations, visionary, good political skills, energetic, and excited about opportunities for change.

Activity Outputs:

Output Core FEA Layers
Leadership Team Roster Y n/a
Project Communication Plan N n/a
Risks and Impacts N S
Performance Gaps Y S
Draft List of Stakeholder Needs Y S

Key to FEA Layers: S = Strategy, B = Business, D = Data, A = Application, I = Infrastructure, SP = Security

Activity 1-2

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