How to use Confluence Cloud for stakeholder management

Most of us don’t need much convincing that stakeholder management is important. It just makes sense that keeping everyone in-the-know on projects and assigning clearly defined roles is key to having an organized, stress-free experience. But if you work with a lot of teams, you already know that effective stakeholder management is hard to come by. It’s not uncommon for people to be left out of the loop, to become unresponsive, or to give last-minute feedback that should have come up earlier.

The reason? Managing dozens of people for a project, making sure everyone is up to date, and keeping track of feedback is really, really hard. 59% of U.S. workers say that communication is their team’s biggest obstacle to success. This is often because the proper pathways for that communication simply don’t exist at their organization.

Confluence Cloud has several features that can create a better infrastructure in your organization for communication and stakeholder management. Here are five tips for how to leverage them during your next project so your team can work together better.

1. Define stakeholder roles

When practicing stakeholder management, it’s important to clearly define each team member's role so you don’t end up with too many people struggling for power over decision-making. But assigning roles isn’t enough - you need documentation to make sure you’re not only solidifying those roles, but also that stakeholders are reminded of them throughout your project. It can be easy for team members to remember that they’re just a contributor with no real power over decisions at the beginning of a project, but in the heat of the moment while determining important aspects of the project, that can change.

At Atlassian, we put a 2x4 table at the top of every project-related document in Confluence so that everyone always knows where they stand.

Using the DACI framework, we assign a driver, who is in charge of managing stakeholders and making sure decisions are made on time, an approver, who has the final say in decision-making, contributors, who can offer expert opinions for consideration, and informed stakeholders, who are notified of decisions.

We also use the @mention feature when we list each person’s name, so that they get a notification about the page and never miss out on seeing important project-related content. To do this, just type in “@” and then start to write one of your team members' names. Their Confluence profile should pop right up!

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✅Tip: For substantial decisions, you can use the built-in DACI template in Confluence where you can not only list stakeholders roles, but also include the background, data, references and options that were considered to make a specific decision.

2. Make a space for your project

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One of the biggest reasons that stakeholders don’t provide timely feedback - or don’t provide feedback at all - throughout a project is because they simply aren’t aware of what’s happening when. One way to solve this is by creating a project space in Confluence that stakeholders can go to for updates on everything going on with a project.

When you create a space, it allows you to easily showcase on a central homepage:

  • An about section for your project

  • A list of team members and a description of who’s responsible for what

  • Recently updated pages relating to your project

  • Open issues in Jira relating to your project

To create a space, you’ll need to have the ‘Create Space' global permission, otherwise, you can talk with your Confluence admin about either getting that permission, or having them create a space for you.

If you already have permission to create spaces, you just have to click Spaces in the Confluence sidebar and then click Create space to get started. From there, you can select your space type (you’ll want to select “Project Space”), name the space and fill in other details, like a description of your project and a list of your team members.

Because pages on Confluence are open by default, your stakeholders don’t need to fuss about getting permission to look at new content being created for projects. Once there’s a space for them to find information, they can just hop right in and get all the resources they need.

If you want to make sure your stakeholder sees one page in particular, you can also use the “share” feature located at the top right corner of every page to give them a notification to look at it. If you want to get their input on a particular section or comment on a page, use the @mention feature to bring their attention to that specific place.

3. Create a project plan

After you’ve set up a project space, you should work on creating a project plan that gives a high-level overview of how you’re going to proceed. You can start with the project plan template in Confluence, which you can access by clicking on the blue plus sign icon in Confluence’s left sidebar and typing “project plan” into the search bar that appears.

The project plan template will give you dedicated sections for documenting:

  • Project Scope

  • Tasks

  • Milestones and deadlines

  • Budget

Once you have these basics listed out on your plan, share it with your stakeholders to make sure that expectations are set and everyone is on the same page about important factors like scope, timelines and overall strategy. It’s important that you come to an agreement on these basic questions at the beginning of your project to stop misunderstandings from popping up later, once everything’s in full swing.

The project plan is also a good place to set up a clear communication strategy that you can follow throughout your project.

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✅Tip: When you’re setting deadlines, make sure you list specific deadlines using the “//” shortcut so stakeholders get notified when they need to check in on your project’s status and give feedback. This way you can make sure that feedback isn’t something that falls through the cracks until the last minute.

4. Document, document, document

No matter what kind of project you’re managing, you should make sure that you’re documenting as much of it as possible in Confluence so that your stakeholders have access to check in on what’s happening every step of the way. Keeping things written down and accessible is key to making sure that everyone knows what’s going on.

It also helps to over-communicate. Share every page that might be relevant to a stakeholder with them just to be safe. It’s a lot better to send a page and have it ignored then it is to have to explain why someone was left out of the loop.

✅Tip: If your team uses Jira, you should also make sure that you’re linking back to issues on the pages that are related to them. You can do this by clicking the ••• icon in the top right corner, then clicking Link, and Jira Issue. This is just another way that you can centralize information and make it easier for stakeholders to stay in the loop.

5. Use commenting to give and get feedback throughout your project

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Another key reason that it’s important to document every step of your project in Confluence is that it makes giving and getting feedback significantly easier. Rather than having to send emails or hold entire meetings to give feedback, Confluence allows you to comment as your read through a piece and keep all your feedback in one place.

In-line commenting can help you and your stakeholders pinpoint particular sections of a page where you want to offer constructive criticism or ask a question. With page commenting, you can also leave high-level feedback relating to a page as a whole.


Everyone likes acknowledgement of their work - Liking a page or comment is a great way for stakeholders to let you know that they've seen your work and support the direction it's moving.

Follow these tips and you'll be successfully managing your stakeholders in no time! Click on the link below for more information on how to use Confluence for collaboration.

Learn more about Confluence

  

4 comments

Meg Holbrook Community Champion yesterday

Great article, Jessica - 

Do you think the same would work for managing stakeholders external to your organization? 

Like 1 person likes this
Jessica Lynn Atlassian Team yesterday

@Meg Holbrook Great question! I think it would depend. If you were able to add those external stakeholders to your Confluence instance, then I definitely would recommend these tips. If you're interested in doing that, I would check out this community post that describes how to add an external user and restrict them to accessing only the relevant spaces in Confluence. 

For those who are unable to do that at their organizations, however, I think you could take inspiration from the tips and find ways to accomplish similar goals outside of Confluence. For example, making sure to document stakeholder roles and responsibilities and set clear deadlines for feedback have more to do with being a pro-active project manager than they necessarily do with which tool you're using. Plus, our project plan template is available to download as a PDF for people who don't have access to Confluence. 

Overall, I would say that behind each of these tips is the idea that good stakeholder management comes from making a deliberate effort to be transparent, to set clear expectations for your stakeholders, to document as much of your project as you can, and to encourage feedback early and often. Confluence provides a really good infrastructure for doing all of these things because it was created with those kind of goals in mind. At the end of the day though, you can really apply those values no matter what tool you're using, it just might take a little bit of extra work. 

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