Being a Business Analyst or Project Manager there are some common challenges and due to this they avoid saying NO to stakeholders or clients;
One of the way to present statistics or data and let stakeholder understand the impact. But it’s helpful in technology organization where stakeholders have the analytic mindset to understand the impact. This could be used as a supportive data while explaining your decisions.
Say no when there is really no option available i.e. communicate with every person in your department before coming to a conclusion because if you don’t find the alternative then you will definitely find the valid and strong reason to support your decisions.
It’s always good to go with some other alternative for your stakeholders if you can’t deliver exactly what they have requested because people want to know the other options if their way is not possible.
Suppose, you are unable to deliver additional requirements because it’s going way out of scope then it’s a good option to suggest that “It could be done in next phase but unfortunately, it’s not possible in previously agreed on timeline”. This is the simplest one, you may come across the more critical scenario where finding the alternative will be another challenge. Try to make your stakeholder believe that there is a hope for their requirement.
This could not be possible in all cases but saying “Not Now” rather “No” can be easier and at the same time less harsh for your stakeholder (Be honest and don’t try to fool your stakeholder because it will have its own consequences. :- ).
Prioritization could be another good option to deny or say No to stakeholder’s request. You can let your priority item open for your stakeholders so that it would be easy for you to tell your story behind NO.
It’s a good option when you are getting multiple requests from the same department with high priority. You can show current workload and let them know why their requests can’t be delivered now, but the request will be worked upon later.
You can highlight resource availability issue if you have any. This is not simple though because making the priority is the first step but making those priorities visible is what makes this strategy powerful. It’s difficult for a stakeholder, even a powerful stakeholder, to circumvent a prioritized and strategically valuable project for something that doesn’t pass the “does this provide the most value” test.
Offering your stakeholder to prioritize their request and giving them an opportunity to say “No” or “Not now” to his or her own request and this could be the best strategy for you. It will be the win-win situation for both the parties.
Showing the impact of saying “Yes” is a good option. As you know that each project is driven by cost i.e. labor cost, resource cost and these costs need to be expressed whenever one project is pushed ahead of another. You can highlight the additional cost or labor required to deliver the requirement. You can also highlight the impact of other priority items because of new requirements. Sometimes, it’s easy to get this work done by budget issue i.e. cost issues and this will not make your stakeholder unhappy because of you.
Be more polite and more descriptive while saying no, delaying or rejecting any request. Because it’s Never Easy; Even if you do everything you can, you may still end up with bitter or grumpy internal stakeholders. You can expect to hear an earful of complaints, protests, and occasional shouts. The key is to be sincere, honest and be willing to lend a hand (or ear) when possible.