Enlist your project stakeholders

Illustration showing the stakeholder state of the upgrade journey

This article is part of the Project Stakeholders stage of your upgrade journey, the first and most essential activity you complete for your project's success.

From implementing project deliverables to driving accountability, your stakeholders hold the key to the success of your project. There are two groups of stakeholders you'll want to assign: (1) a sponsorship coalition that includes executive and project sponsors who have a vested interest in and influence on the project's success, and (2) the project team, consisting of the people responsible for ensuring technical and user readiness, who will complete the various tasks in the project plan. The common thread between these two groups is the project manager, who works to ensure that project tasks get completed on schedule and reports project status back to the coalition.


Take time to identify the ideal executive sponsor, someone who can help set the tone of your project, leads by example, and holds others accountable. This should be a senior manager or executive who has authority over the project scope and vision. They should also be the final decision-maker in removing blockers and resolving conflict to help keep the project on time and on budget.

Optionally, you can create a steering committee. Sometimes large or more complex projects end up with "too many cooks in the kitchen," resulting in disconnects among the stakeholder groups. For these projects, you might want to form a steering committee. A steering committee is responsible for driving decisions, providing strategic oversight, supporting the project's initiatives, and—when necessary—removing blockers. You can find more information about implementing a steering committee in the steering committee guide.

An icon depicting decision points
Decision points
  • Who are the right people to serve as your stakeholder team for this project?
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Next steps
  • Consider the scope of your project and assign the relevant stakeholders.
  • Use the following table as a guideline, but note that this list isn't all-inclusive.
    Build a responsible-accountable-consulted-informed (RACI) matrix to further distinguish those who will be held accountable from those who simply need to be kept informed in a particular area of the project.
  • Decide whether to create a steering committee, and assign roles as appropriate.
  • Roles Responsibility
    Sponsorship coalition
    Executive Sponsor Drives overall messaging and accountability
    Business Sponsor Facilitates new technology requests for their business unit
    Department Managers Represents the teams most affected by this change
    Human Resources Manager Is accountable for talent management
    Project Manager/Lead Oversees the transition project, ensures completion of all tasks
    Project team
    Collaboration Lead/ Architect Creates and implements the solution architecture
    Network Lead Provides insights into network design and execution
    Security Lead Provides insights into security design, process, and implementation
    Synchronous Communications Lead Owns presence tooling such as chat, meetings, and calling
    Asynchronous Collaboration Lead Owns asynchronous tooling such as SharePoint, OneDrive, and so on
    Telephony Lead Provides insights into telephony design and implementation
    Service Owner/ Quality Champion Owns the operation of Teams all-up, including the quality of the user experience
    Desktop and Devices Lead Provides input into clients, devices, and desktop apps
    IT Pro/Tenant Admin Ensures the network readiness and Microsoft 365 admin center configurations are in place
    Support/Help Desk Lead Manages the readiness of your support desk
    Change Management Lead Oversees the user change management and adoption program
    Marketing Lead Designs and implements communications campaigns
    Training Lead Designs and implements training plans

    After you've gathered your stakeholders, proceed to the next step: Define your project scope.