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How to Align Various Internal Stakeholders and Their Requests

Stakeholders
Team Processes

19 August, 2021

Ringo Tsang
Ringo Tsang

Engineering Manager at Postman

Ringo Tsang, Engineering Manager at Postman, shares how he created a Jira template that allowed him to align various internal stakeholders and proactively deal with their requests to Engineering.

Problem

At my previous company I worked with a great variety of internal stakeholders such as Product, Finance, or Revenue, to name a few. In most cases, they would hand out their requests to the engineering team but then keep adding more through casual, informal conversations. In those situations, I would always encourage them to file a ticket, and I would make sure that it would get prioritized. Then, they would start to inquire about information that should be included in the ticket. Explaining that over and again is time-consuming, if not tiresome.

Moreover, most of those requests are cross-functional and need to be signed off and communicated by a number of different stakeholders. For example, if we were to launch a new product, Product should be involved, but also Finance, Legal, or Tax Department (again, to name a few) should be informed. Sometimes, even the most minor request would involve such a great number of stakeholders.

In the end, these requests are arriving at an unpredictable cadence. We may receive 10 in Q1, then nothing in Q2, and only two in Q3. They always come with a sense of urgency and are expected to be completed by… yesterday. We are supposed to react quickly to those, even if these requests are rarely delivered timely.

Actions taken

I wanted us to have better control and a more proactive role in terms of how and what kind of requests are being delivered to us. I created a template in Jira for people to fill in before sending over their requests. The template allows for different categories, including introducing a new product, working on a text change, etc. For each of the different categories, requirements are listed (what kind of product is that, what is its price, what other stakeholders are involved, and when it should be launched). All of our stakeholders would need to complete the template if they would want us to work on it.

The template contains information on requirements our internal stakeholders need to provide for us to take any further actions. Also, all stakeholders are listed, and those selected would be pinned to the ticket and notified that something that requires their involvement would be taking place. That would save us an enormous amount of time that we would otherwise spend trying to inform all stakeholders, align them and have them sign off the request. The template also includes a field with a due date for this request, which allows us to do some planning. Since we are doing most of our planning quarterly, I would be aware of the incoming requests and could plan accordingly budgeting enough resources.

Lessons learned

  • Instead of being reactive to the request from different stakeholders, try to introduce processes that would make you more proactive and allow you to plan and best use your resources.
  • Document everything. People tend to keep adding task after task if it something that requires no effort on their˝end. If they need to spend some time writing it down, they will take it more seriously than offloading it in a casual, hallway conversation.
  • Aligning various stakeholders is anything but easy. There is no universal recipe, but frequent communication can help with lining up on expectations.

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