Sponsorship, scope and stakeholders

Final | October 2018 | v1.0.0 | OFFICIAL-Public | QGCIO

Purpose

Sponsorship, championship, scope and stakeholder management is important for the successful execution of digital or ICT planning engagements. This guideline highlights the role and characteristics of a sponsor and provides guidelines on the selection of a suitable sponsor, scoping of the planning engagement as well as analysis of stakeholders to be included in the planning activities.

This guideline also assists the practitioner to agree on expectations with the planning sponsor prior to assembling the planning team. The drivers, objectives and high-level approach are agreed with the sponsor and communicated to the executive management team. Stakeholders and participants in the planning activities, both internal and external to the agency, are identified and analysed to define the engagement and communication approach.

Audience

A practitioner in the context of this guideline can include one or more of the following roles:

  • Digital and ICT strategic planners
  • Agency and service strategic planners
  • Workforce planners
  • Enterprise architects
  • Business analysts
  • Marketing and communications specialists.

Initiation

The initiation of a strategic planning engagement within an agency may happen as a matter of course due to the usual planning cycle, or may require specific steps to be taken to create and approve the conduct of the planning project. To ensure the engagement fits the needs of the business, it is important the key stakeholders support the execution of the planning engagement from the outset.

Gaining support and input at the beginning of the planning engagement may involve several activities including:

  • Identifying an opportunity to gain value from conducting a digital or ICT planning activity and then socialising the opportunity with Executive Management to gain executive level support and sponsorship.
  • Developing a proposal to progress and gain business buy-in for the development of a strategy includes the planning outputs required to achieve the planning objectives
  • Presentation of the proposal to the agency or business area to set expectations and gain support and participation for the upcoming planning activities.
  • Analysing stakeholders and determining creative, effective and business-appropriate methods of engagement.

Sponsorship

The Chief Executive Officer, Chief Information Officer, Information Steering Committee (or equivalent) or a Senior Executive representing the business may initiate the notion of digital and ICT strategic planning and the success of the planning engagement can often depend on the level of sponsorship and championship in the agency.

Sponsorship is different from championing the planning engagement although a sponsor can also be a champion.

Traditionally, the role of the sponsor is often assigned to the CIO. This may not be optimal in all circumstances. As digital becomes more integral to business and service delivery, digital planning activities may have higher perceived legitimacy if sponsored by Executive Leadership such as the CEO. The CIO could and should continue to ‘champion the activities’

An effective sponsor will demonstrate the following characteristics:

Compelling communication skills

A sponsor must have a clear understanding of the agency’s vision and objectives and how the planning engagement will assist to achieve those objectives. He or she must also be able to articulate to the agency why digital or ICT planning is important, the risks associated with not acting, encourage engagement and participation in the planning activities.

Leadership style

A Sponsor must be able to see the big picture, but also have the skills to identify specific areas that may pose a challenge or require additional focus. The effective sponsor will keep the planning team motivated and moving forward by ensuring the right people are identified to solve problems that may arise in the business.

Trust

Trust is a set of attributes that includes listening, sharing and challenging others to achieve goals. The executive sponsor should be highly respected by the team, as well as by colleagues and others associated with the planning engagement. The sponsor should command attention of the planning team, direct appropriate action, can influence and communicate broadly across the agency, and is trusted by both internal and external stakeholders.

Accountability

The sponsor should be committed and willing to take ‘ownership’ of the planning engagement and is best suited to lead the initiative. He or she is on the look-out for any barriers or impediments the need to be progressed are addressed. The executive sponsor should define and communicate the benefits of the planning engagement and establish a culture of accountability

Change advocate

The sponsor should have a strong understanding of the business of the agency and the concerns of the staff and customers accessing the services of the agency. He or she will be a strong advocate for change. The sponsor should be influential, a respected negotiator, and have a track record for getting things done.

Stakeholders

The application of this framework requires that all levels of the organisation are involved throughout the various phases of the strategic planning process. In some circumstances it may be necessary to include key decision makers from outside the organisation. These can include business service partners, customers and consumers, advocacy groups, industry representatives and representatives from federal or central agencies (see Figure 4).

Figure 1 – Example planning stakeholders

The identification and analysis of the correct key stakeholders will help ensure the right people are consulted, made available, and are involved in the planning process.

The practitioner and the sponsor should agree on who the decision makers are in the agency and who should be involved in the planning engagement. One method of identifying stakeholders is to draw a simple picture depicting the stakeholders or groups of stakeholders, their proximity to the engagement, the strength of the relationship and what they consider important.

It is important to record the level of support versus the level of influence or power each stakeholder or group will have on the planning engagement. It is also important to record any issues or obstructions stakeholders may present, which may impact the success of the planning engagement.

Effective stakeholder analysis will assist the practitioner to develop approaches and communication strategies for effectively engaging with stakeholders throughout the planning engagement.

Stakeholder analysis is best conducted through interviews with the sponsor and with executive management where possible. The practitioner may wish to conduct a ‘first pass’ and then present the findings of the analysis and recommended engagement approaches to the sponsor for further discussion.

Scope

The purpose of the scoping activity is to negotiate agreement on the overall intent of the planning engagement and the key planning steps and approaches.

Before commencing the digital or ICT planning process, the sponsor and the practitioner must decide on the scope of the planning engagement. The practitioner should meet with the sponsor and discuss their expectations, planning objectives and desired outcomes resulting from the planning engagements.

Elements of scope to be considered by the practitioner and the sponsor can include:

  • Planning objectives
  • Services
  • Business areas
  • Supporting information assets, applications and technology
  • Stakeholders
  • Timeframes
  • Planning outputs
  • Planning outcomes
  • Planning approaches
  • Planning resources (internal and external)
  • Stakeholder communications and engagement
  • Consultation.

Approach

It is useful to prepare a proposal outlining in detail the scope of planning activities required as well as the deliverables required to achieve the planning objectives and outcomes. The proposal should also outline the responsibilities of the sponsor, champions and participants in the planning process.

The practitioner and the sponsor may also agree to partition the agency logically into divisional or functional areas and manage each logical unit as a separate instance of the planning engagement. The outputs from these instances can then be analysed and consolidated to represent a whole-of-agency agency view.

For large and complex planning engagements, it may be necessary to consider conducting the planning engagement as a formal project. This intent should be documented as part of proposal including a recommendation to appoint a dedicated project manager.

The timing of the planning engagement is also important. The practitioner should research the agency’s planning cycles and determine when digital or ICT planning can be incorporated into the agency or business area’s current planning processes where possible.

The resources required to participate in the planning engagement will depend on the objectives of the planning engagement, the complexity of the business and the relationships between its services and business areas, timeframes and the people and skills available to conduct the digital or ICT planning process. At this stage it is important to consider if external resources should be used to conduct the planning engagement or to supplement the skills or capacity of the agency’s planning resources.

The practitioner should ensure any specific exclusions from the scope are also documented. Some business areas might be excluded for example because of special administrative or funding arrangements, or they might have recently completed an equivalent digital or ICT planning process.

The proposal should result in an agreed high-level planning approach, against which the resources, budget and tools can be assembled.

Communication

It may be necessary to prepare and conduct a brief presentation outlining the purpose, benefits, approach and timeframes of the planning engagement. This will enable the sponsor, champion and the practitioners to socialise the upcoming planning engagement with executive management and the organisation.

It is recommended to socialise ideas and approaches with stakeholders early and get their input into planning the engagement. This will give stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the best times for conducting workshops and interviews, refine the list of participants and provide input on how they like to be engaged.

Next steps

Practitioners should:

  • Ensure agreement of the proposal document with the sponsor. This includes formally signing off the proposed scope and indicative timeframes.
  • Ensure the sponsor is aware of their obligations to ensure the planning engagement remains a success.
  • Ensure the sponsor has approved any initial communications to the organisation.

Once the scope has been decided the practitioner can formally plan the engagement in detail. This will include assembling the resources and toolkit required to conduct the planning engagement.

Resources

ResourceLink
Sample Project brief
Best practice methodology Project management
Sample stakeholder diagram Stakeholder diagrams
Sample stakeholder grid models Stakeholder grid model
Stakeholder analysis Video: Stakeholder analysis grid
Stakeholder register Stakeholder Register

Last Reviewed: 24 October 2018