Going Legit: How to Get Stakeholders On Board Your Projects

When you’re trying to introduce a new project that’s about changing that organization, you have to get stakeholders to accept that change as “legitimate.”

Dr. Donal Flynn, senior lecturer at the Manchester Business School, and Youngqin Du, business analyst at Shell, focused on this challenge in a paper entitled Exploring Legitimation Seeking activities in an Information Systems Project. In their analysis they saw three different types of legitimization: gaining (getting the project off the ground), maintaining (ongoing), and repairing (when the project goes south).

The reason projects have to be legitimized: There’s a gap between the team and the business stakeholders. To increase the chances for acceptance, you need to close the gap and try to deliver what the stakeholders want. Either change the IT systems to suit the needs of your stakeholders, or change the stakeholders to suit the needs of your IT systems.

Bottom line: Analyze the situation early to decide which way you’re going to go, but be willing to switch if that tactic doesn’t work.

— David Spark