Project Stakeholder Relationships

Stakeholder Relationships – Building Engagement With the C-suite

Considering the most powerful people in your organisation are the executives, building engagement with the C-suite is vital for stakeholder relationships in your project management office (PMO). Having strong relationships across the business will help get your projects moving and hitting their targets. You want people in the business to support your work, and the C-suite is a useful place to start.

Whilst you will have a strong and detailed relationship with your C-level PMO sponsor, you do need to work with their colleagues, too. Here, we’re going to be covering:

  • The value of engaging with the executives in your organisation
  • What you can do to create the engagement you need
  • Examples of C-suite engagement that you can adapt to your needs

To help you better support the projects in your portfolio.

What’s the benefit of a PMO engaging with the C-suite?

The projects that your PMO runs will all have an impact on the business, meaning that the executive team will want to know about them. Each person may have a vested interest in one or two projects they sponsor, but you should still work to inform them about all your office’s work.

The reasons you want to create positive engagement with your PMO and the C-suite include:

  • Effective decisions – in most businesses, which projects get the go-ahead will be down to the board, so having them be aware of the work you do and the accuracy of your project recommendations can be invaluable.
  • Offering guidance – since it’s the C-suite who set the strategic goals and vision for the company, who better to ask for guidance than the very same people? You can gain better strategic insight when you have the right relationships.
  • Sponsor support – gaining buy-in from other executives in your PMO activities will give your sponsor support during meetings. It’s also a continuity plan in case your sponsor leaves the business to have other people in the c-suite supporting your cause.
  • A voice on the governance board – most large businesses will have a governance board; because your PMO plays a key role in project governance, you need both an ear and a voice on this board to advocate for your office’s work.

Put simply, the support of and engagement with your C-suite can help your projects be successful because of the influence executives have.

What can a PMO do to engage the C-suite in its activities?

Whether you’re starting a new role in a PMO and need to build relationships, or you want to revamp your stakeholder management and engagement, there are ways you can get the attention of your C-suite.

Every PMO and business is different, but the techniques and examples we have for you should help you come up with a plan to better engage with the top-level leaders in your organisation.

Ask the leaders

First, you need to understand what the C-suite want and how often. The effective way to do this is to reach out to the people you want to talk to and find out what they want.

You can send out a survey to each member of the executive board asking them about their preferences for:

Then, use their response to decide how best to keep everyone informed of your activities. You could also request a meeting or add a point to the monthly agenda if you’re concerned about getting consensus.

Target your messaging

There are many times that your PMO will need to request C-level sign-off for actions, like commissioning a project or changing the project prioritisation model you use.

Every communication you send to the leaders needs to speak their language. The C-suite care about strategic goals, risk tolerance, and resources management so you need to address these specifically.

Review all documents that reach the top levels and ensure they present information in terms that will be relevant to the reader. You can also be sure to read all submissions in these terms, so you don’t take up any more time than needed.

Project updates

This is another activity that needs to talk to the right people on the right terms. Be respectful of the time of the C-suite and only give them information pertinent to their role and the success of the business.

Give information in an easy-to-digest format. It’s useful to use data visualisation and make it easy for them to see how your office and projects are progressing towards their KPIs.

Building engagement with your C-suite

Effective stakeholder relationships, including building engagement with your C-suite, will help your PMO be successful. High-level support for your work and the results you can deliver will ensure support across the business, too.