"I’m thinking about experimenting with AI. What do I need to know about involving stakeholders?"

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been involved in AI pilot projects – especially in the Automotive Industry – where the importance of stakeholder involvement has been overlooked. And yet, I find this to be one of the trickiest and most critical keys to success of any AI pilot project. Let’s take a closer look.

With any enterprise-level pilot, or even at a smaller organization, there will be many people involved in the project decisions: Executive leaders, R&D teams, IT departments, researchers who understand the technical aspects of AI and automotive systems, Quality Assurance teams, Operations teams, Marketing, Sales, and perhaps Customer Service. Of course, depending on what type of a pilot you’re running, there can be external stakeholders as well: Customers, Suppliers and Partners, Regulatory Bodies, Industry Experts and Consultants, or Investors and Financial Stakeholders – they all may have a say in how successful your project is.

How should one navigate SO many stakeholders?

1.     You can map out all your stakeholders, how they are connected, what reporting relationships exist, and what decision authority each has. For example, if you have automotive engineers with expertise in vehicle dynamics, safety systems, and electronics, you can put them down in a flow chart or spreadsheet to see who else you might need.

2.     Of your stakeholders, determine – on a scale from 1 – 100 – which ones will have the MOST influence on the success of your project. That will help you prioritize stakeholders later, down the road. You might want to prioritize software engineers if this AI technology needs to integrate with existing automotive systems. How will you locate and recruit such engineers?

3.     Establish a regular cadence of stakeholder communication. Try to get input from your stakeholders regarding a cadence that works for them. Of course, not all stakeholders will need or want to subscribe to the same cadence – and that’s perfectly fine. If your AI pilot involves optimizing supply chain and inventory management, for example, you’ll probably want to ask your logistics coordinators how frequently they’re available to provide product feedback and how often they’d be looking for updates.

4.     From the beginning of the project, make sure there is a way for stakeholders to provide feedback about the project, its processes, and the project team itself. Ideally, the feedback should be able to be provided anonymously. For example, if your pilot project involves component suppliers, you might want to ask them for feedback regarding their existing integrations with hardware components like sensors and control units.

5.     In order to prevent stakeholder misunderstandings, it will be critical to have everyone involved know their role, their responsibilities, and how those responsibilities affect the other members of the pilot project team. If your pilot project involves any type of automotive regulatory compliance or standards, who is the designee who will liaise with entities such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) in the US or the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) for compliance with safety and environmental regulations? It’s important to not only know who will be your liaison, but also who is ultimately responsible for compliance and standards.

 

Although these are just a few considerations regarding stakeholder involvement, I hope that it helps and I’d love to hear your suggestions as well.

 

Thank you!

 

Carolyn Peer

CEO/Co-founder of Humaxa

carolyn.peer@humaxa.com

www.humaxa.com

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