How to Master Stakeholder Management in Digital Transformation

Organizations are turning to low-code to facilitate their digital transformation journey. Having a low-code vision and wanting sustainable change goes far beyond the development of a single application.

It all starts with a scale mindset and effective stakeholder management.

Your digital transformation vision can have a variety of goals, including:

  • market expansion
  • adaptability
  • risk mitigation
  • legacy migration
  • or organizational change

Your aim is to drive this vision at scale and for your organization to embrace this change. To do that, you need to get your stakeholders on board. Let’s show you how.

The Scale Mindset and Stakeholder Management

Chief Product Officer, Hans de Visser recently covered low-code vision:

“Low-code platforms must expand beyond single-use cases and simple automation. The path forward is tackling the most complex problems across the enterprise.”

The path forward for enterprises that leverage low-code is a scale mindset.

But how do you get your organization to adopt that elusive scale mindset? How do you create long-term success of your low-code implementation? How do you connect that to your digital transformation journey?

Stakeholder management: What is it and why should you care?

Stakeholder management is the process of engaging and satisfying the needs of individuals and organizations involved in a project.

Stakeholder management is crucial in digital transformation because it:

  • aligns goals
  • gains support
  • reduces resistance
  • ensures efficient resource allocation

This leads to enhancing your digital transformation’s success.

The importance of stakeholders can vary depending on the specific context and goals. The top three most important stakeholders are typically:

  1. Executive Leadership and Senior Management: Executive support is crucial for securing funding, formulating a vision, and driving success. They are pivotal in decision-making.
  2. Customers and End-Users: Measure your digital transformation initiative by your customers and end-users. Understand their needs, deliver value to them, and ensure a positive user experience.
  3. Employees: Expect resistance if you don’t have employee buy-in across your organization. Engage and prepare employees for changes by providing training and addressing their concerns.

Balance the strategic decision-making, customer goals, and employee needs. It’s crucial for successful digital transformation.

The importance of your stakeholders can vary project to project.

Successful stakeholder management in digital transformation

Successful stakeholder management starts with acknowledging that change is a personal journey.

A lack of widespread acceptance impedes organizational transformation. It doesn’t matter if you have an optimal solution.

To navigate individuals through digital transformation, a well-thought-out stakeholder management plan is imperative.

Lina Robayo Domínguez knows the challenges and benefits of stakeholder management. Robayo Domínguez is a Prosci-certified Change Manager at Mendix. She’s gathered experience helping Mendix propel its own digital transformation through IT-business alignment. She’s had plenty of opportunities to gain stakeholder buy-in and manage expectations.

For Robayo Domínguez, it is all about:

  • knowing who you stakeholders are
  • understanding what they want and need, and how your proposed change is affecting them
  • finding and leveraging an executive sponsor
  • handling resistance (plan for it, it will happen!)
  • working on clear messaging and getting the right people to communicate that message

How to initiate effective stakeholder management

Here’s how Robayo Domínguez approaches stakeholder management.

1. Assess Change

To assess change you first need to understand what it means for your organization.

  • Understand Change Nature: Don’t underestimate the size and scope of the transformation.
  • Change Risk Assessment: Test how this affects your organization. Robayo Domínguez urges you to consider the transformation’s duration. Also note how much change you’re introducing. This is change saturation. Be mindful of past implemented transformations that failed. Finally assess its alignment with your organization’s strategic (low-code) vision.

Got the full picture now? Now you can get into identifying your stakeholders.

2. Identify Stakeholders

Robayo Domínguez says that identifying stakeholders means navigating your organization your organization in a systematic way and identifying leaders from each group.

  • Meticulous exploration: Systematically identify all groups affected by change. Then gauge the size of each group. Remember if someone needs to do something differently, we need them on board early on.
  • Leadership Focus: Identify leaders within each group, since their commitment can influence others. Recognize the cascading effect of change through them. It’s unlikely that people commit to a transformation in any greater extent than their leaders.

3. Understand Needs

Once you’ve identified stakeholders, assess their needs and appetite for change.

  • Impact Mapping: Digital transformation entails a lot more than introducing a new technology. Assess how the transformation might influence behavior, mindset, core responsibilities, and even compensation. Keep in mind any unique circumstances within the affected groups. Identify these things as early as possible, so that you know how to best interact with such groups.
  • Change Enthusiasts & Opposers: Robayo Domínguez suggests being proactive. Recognize groups facing substantial change and expect and manage opposing opinions. Identify and engage change enthusiasts so you have a smoother transition. But also plan to have the difficult conversations with opposing stakeholders. It is best to do it sooner rather than later.

4. Involve Stakeholders

So you’ve identified stakeholders and their needs. Now the next step is to involve them, which means collaborating, not mandating. Digital transformation doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

  • Leadership engagement plan: Robayo Domínguez emphasizes establishing a sponsor for the initiative. This should be someone with a vested interest in its success. Collaborate with the sponsor to identify supportive and opposing leaders. Address resistance early in the initiative.
  • People manager’s engagement plan: Acknowledge that managers are people first and managers second. Develop a plan to involve them, while recognizing their schedules and  team commitments. Give them access to communication and training plans. Seek their input for effective change navigation. This is a group you want to go the extra mile for, because they know their teams well. They can guide them in successful change navigation.

5. Create a Communication Plan

Involving your stakeholders means creating a comprehensive communication plan.

  • Comprehensive messaging: Robayo Domínguez recommends developing a communication plan covering essential aspects. State what the initiative is about, why it matters, benefits, and expectations. Integrate project management and change management perspectives for a holistic approach.
  • Preferred senders: Assign preferred senders based on the nature of the message. Leaders communicate organizational awareness. People managers convey what the change means for their specific group. According to Prosci’s research, a lack of awareness is a common resistance factor. Robust communication plans help prevent it.

Kickstart your stakeholder management

Undoubtedly as in most digital transformation journeys, speed is an important factor for you. And that is where an enterprise grade low-code platform can be an incredibly strategic asset for you.

But, don’t lose that speed and agility to poor stakeholder management. Trust me, your stakeholders and your business will thank you for it.

Want more information about how to make your digital transformation journey successful? Read our Digital Execution Manual for more key insights.