The CTO's Guide to Increase Stakeholder Engagement

photo by Awesome Content

There is no doubt that you have to deal with questions, suggestions, and requests from other areas of the business. However, they may not be able to influence you directly. As new product launches approach, this pressure increases due to the expectations, opinions, and even ignorance of many people.

Engaging stakeholders in the user journey communication process

In your role as CTO, you must explain the benefit of reducing feature bloat and focusing on user needs. It is crucial to demonstrate user journeys and explain why specific product decisions lead to higher conversion rates. It’s not easy to convince a stakeholder to see this value, especially if you’re not even present.

A recent study reports that less than 10% of S&P 500 companies have technology subcommittees. A tech-savvy board director is more likely to be on the board of the best-performing companies (31%). Nearly half of board discussions revolve solely around cyber risk and privacy.

Engaging the board to create a better start

Getting stakeholders ‘on board at the beginning of a project will reduce the amount of reactive work you have to do. When you don’t get early approval, you’ll be forced to change the scope of the project – which will affect its timeline, success, and costs – or you’ll have to explain to stakeholders why you disagree with their decision.

CTOs typically focus on engaging stakeholders on the following topics:

  • Performance

Whenever you can justify eliminating a requested feature because it will cost X less to develop and only 1% of customers use it, you’re on to something. The performance of certain actions must be demonstrated through examples or statistical data. Customer satisfaction, operational performance, and financial performance all fall into this category.

  • Challenges

Could you provide examples of risks that will make your ideas more likely to succeed? For example, provide a solution to the data breach problem.

  • Strategy for growth of the business

To win approval from stakeholders, you should demonstrate how your technological suggestions will facilitate the growth of the company. Consider customer satisfaction and conversion improvements when analyzing user journeys. Show how improving data collection can lead to better future decisions. A feature decision is usually justified here, but you can also push back on decisions that do not promote the growth of your company.

The final battle between external agencies and investors/stakeholders

Managing the expectations of the agency and the stakeholders involved in the project is crucial if you’re appointing a digital agency to carry out the project.

Lack of stakeholder investment in technology can benefit you in this case: many CTOs have free reign in how they execute a project – the board is only concerned about cost and results.

Additionally, we’re talking about difficult stakeholders and directors who get overly involved in details and are overly invested in key ideas. An agency’s ideas must be ‘sold’ to the board of directors by a CTO in this situation.