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When to Involve Your Project Audience

As a project manager you have to decide when it’s appropriate to involve the audience you defined in your project list. Keeping the project audience involved is important and can contribute to your project’s overall success.

Projects pass through the following four stages as they progress from an idea to completion:

  • Starting the project

  • Organizing and preparing

  • Carrying out the work

  • Closing the project

Break your audience into three groups: drivers, supporters, and observers and include them in each stage of your project’s life cycle.


Drivers are the people who have a say in defining results. Involve drivers from the start to the finish of your project. Keeping them involved is critical because they define what your project should produce, and they evaluate your project’s success when it’s finished. The following table tells how to keep drivers involved during the four stages of your project.

Involving Drivers in the Different Project Stages
Stage Involvement Level Rationale
Starting the project Heavy Identify and speak with as many drivers as possible. Their
desires and your assessment of feasibility can influence whether
you should pursue the project.
Organizing and preparing Moderate to heavy Consult with drivers to ensure your project plan addresses
their needs and expectations. Have them formally approve the plan
before you start the actual project work.
Carrying out the work Moderate As the project gets under way, announce and introduce the
drivers to the project team. Having the drivers talk about their
needs and interests reinforces the importance of the project and
helps team members form a more accurate picture of project goals.
While performing the project work, keep drivers apprised of project
accomplishments and progress.
Closing the project Heavy Have drivers assess the project’s results and determine
whether their needs and expectations were met.

Supporters are the people who authorize or provide resources for your project. Involve supporters from start to finish. The following table details how to keep supporters involved during your project’s four stages.

Involving Supporters in the Different Project Stages
Stage Involvement Level Rationale
Starting the project Moderate Wherever possible, have key supporters assess the feasibility
of meeting driver expectations.
Organizing and preparing Heavy Because supporters facilitate or do all the work, have them
determine necessary technical approaches, schedules, and
Carrying out the work Heavy Familiarize all supporters with the planned work. Clarify how
the supporters will work together to achieve the results. Have
supporters decide how they’ll communicate, resolve conflicts,
and make decisions throughout the project.
Closing the project Heavy Have supporters conclude their different tasks. Inform them of
project accomplishments and recognize their roles in project
achievements. Elicit their suggestions for handling similar
projects more effectively in the future.

Observers have no say in the project but have an interest in your project results. After you choose the observers, involve them minimally throughout the project. The following table shows how you may keep observers involved.

Because observers don’t directly influence or affect your project, be sure to carefully manage the time and effort you spend sharing information with them.

Involving Observers in the Different Project Stages
Stage Involvement Level Rationale
Starting the project Minimal Inform observers of your project’s existence and its main
Organizing and preparing Minimal Inform observers about the project’s planned outcomes and
time frames.
Carrying out the work Minimal Tell observers that the project has started, and confirm the
dates for planned milestones. Inform observers of key project
Closing the project Minimal When the project is done, inform observers about the
project’s products and results.