Often in IT Projects, the sponsorship of a project is not simple. Often there a many stakeholders who have a significant interest in the project. This is common when we are working on a data warehousing project. Many different groups have vested interest in the project. These interest might also come in conflict. In particular problems will arise if one group is responsible for the requirements and another for the budget. What are some actions you can take to mitigate the problems?
My first advice is to try to simplify things. Harvey used to say "I am a simple man so you must make it simple for me." That means in your mind deciding who really cares and make sure they are supporting your activity. They will go to bat for you and clear away obstacles. In addition some of the people have more influence and power in an organization. I have found it does not necessarily follow from the organization chart. Some people just know how to get things done.
I have also taken on a role of communication medium between all the various interest especially if the group do not meet with each other for various reasons. Often groups have history which inhibits good communications and trust. By focusing on the objective of the project and repeating it frequently sometimes you can get people all looking in the same direction. I often visualize the objective as something which you can point to on a wall or in the centre of the table and metaphorically getting them all to look the objective as oppose to each other. Shuttle diplomacy really works.
Another thing to remember is that nobody means to do the wrong thing. It may appear wrong to you, but from their perspective it is right. The problem is to see it from their perspective. I often become very confused and admit it. I then asked for help in joining the points along a logical path. Often the explanation will clear up the confusion and you have better idea why the apparent conflict exist. Then you can set about getting the players to focus on the goal.
Usually complex projects means that many people in an organization have to change the way they have always done things. Some people may not even understand why they do things they do but just know it works. For them to step into the unknown is scary. These people need support and help from the people they trust who can help them make the change. Often simplifying things will help because many people do not need to understand the complete system just their part. Make it simple and low risk.
We all know on complex projects not everything will be exactly as we expect even with extensive testing. By letting people know that things may not go exactly as they hoped and giving them ways of getting help is important. Eventually as they gain experience with the system they will learn the things that do not work well and avoid them.
A real key to success of a project is for people to know that the project is important to their "real boss". A note or email from the project sponsor or sponsors telling people how important the project to the sponsor and thanking them in advance for their support will help.
I am sure there are lots of ideas and experiences people have. Like to hear some ideas.