Have a business process re-engineering project where I need to schedule and conduct interviews with business participants and stakeholders in a short period of time (4 weeks).

What is the best way to get the participants and stakeholders to commit to and adhere to such a schedule?

Edit: I will be working directly with the sponsor on the project, so that should help. Any specific advice on how to work with the sponsor to drive this project with the tight schedule.

  • Please inform whether this is about internal stakeholders & participants or not. Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 21:43

6 Answers 6


Find your sponsor (VP of XXX??) and his business case (Save X by Y by doing Z) and have him drive it. Give them carrots for helping, but use the stick of your sponsor if you need. There's a limit to your power as an external, but be reliable and utilize whoever hired you.


I've successfuly used the Manager-Tools Jump Starting Internal Relationships format for stakeholder meetings. The podcast outlines a 30 minute meeting and five questions that I've found just as well for stakeholder as for internal customers.

The sample email also works very well. One of the keys is, don't use Outlook calendar except for just the meeting invite. send an email with the information and the intro slide.

It seems like it wouldn't do anything, but a simple 1/2 hour meeting, set up right has done wonders for creating lasting internal relationships.


Your first step would be to include client obligations in your contract, explicitly articulated in terms of who, what, where, when, why, and how a customer is supposed to do something. Explicit obligations that, if not met, you are held harmless of the results (read, you can point to something to argue your case to protect yourself to the degree possible).

Then, push the scheduling to your customer. Since this is YOUR job, you are the one with nearly 100% flexibility to meet their scheduling demands. Since this is secondary to their job, they need to be the ones to demand. But, if they own the scheduling, then you should have increased the likelihood (not remove) to a good degree that they adhere to it with minimal changes.

Finally, plan a plan B. Have back-up dates, have other facilitators and BP modelers at the ready to crash the work if necessary, prepare the sponsor early if you are experience unfavorable variances to the schedule or the results of the meetings...and whatever else you can think of.


If you are the consultant, then you need to drive, present and offer SUGGESTED timelines but let the client determine the dates. You can only bring them to the watering hole. You can't make them drink.

Some of the responses on this thread sound a bit irrelevant (i.e. putting in a contract)...that's CYA to you and a failing attitude in the event they fire you, you can land on the contract's language and say "I told you so".

The more important thing is if you want to be successful, do the best you can in a structured and systematic fashion. No one can blame you if the client is unwilling o


I would recommend having your project sponsor arrange for someone in management who is above all the participants to send a memo to all concerned that this is a project of critical importance to him/her and requesting their full cooperation it supporting the project and meeting the timeline.

There is nothing quite like knowing the the CEO is personally watching you to get people to take an interest.


Assumption: We are talking about an internal initiative

As there seems to be little space for errors, I'd make sure I have clarity on the final deliverable and the key success factor(s). Best — prepare something like a “dummy result” briefly or its outline to discuss with the sponsor.

I'd write an introductory e-mail for the sponsor to send out, endorsing me on the one hand, shedding some light on the “why,” the required result, and timeframe (advised embedded picture of timeline / no attachments), and inviting the stakeholders to an early morning, 30-minute meeting ;-) Best, in the sponsor's office ;-)

During that meeting... I thought it would work best to do a short presentation (alignment), leave a moment for Q&As (individual expectations), and most importantly — ask the participants to suggest their preferred meeting slots for appointments (commitment). The latter would be the risky part. You could take a big piece of paper (say, a typical “brown paper”), draw day columns and hour slots, and ask the participants to put their names on them. In case of “I don't have a calendar with me” arguments, you could always say — “Please suggest several options, and provide me with your phone number. I will be happy to get in touch after the meeting.” You could then put this information in the minutes / embed in your e-mail, and send out for final confirmation /w deadline, followed by individual appointments.

I hope this will give you some ideas to consider at least :-)

Oh, and if you haven't got a recurring appointment with the sponsor scheduled yet, you might want to consider doing so.

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