I often hear project managers bemoaning their stakeholders. They say they’re setting unrealistic goals or don’t take an active interest in the project. They ignore to crucial facts about stakeholder management.
What You Need to Know About Stakeholder Management
You’ve got a goal, I’ve got a goal. Now all we need is a football team. – Groucho Marx
1 The project manager is responsible for managing stakeholders.
Who else do you think is going to identify and win over key people in the project? And how can you expect their support if you don’t keep them informed?
For some, managing stakeholders comes naturally. And for the rest of us it has to be worked at. To successfully engage with your stakeholders you first need to name them. That sounds pretty obvious but it’s something that is often ignored—overlook this at your peril! Stakeholders can be individuals and groups. Most likely the important ones are people. List them all including those that don’t come into play for some time.
Now you have a list decide how much power and influence each stakeholder has. Use any one of a number of techniques to assess their attitude—from supportive to opposed—and prioritise according to power and interest.
2 Your project is more likely to succeed if you manage your stakeholders.
Gaining support from powerful stakeholders is going to help you win resources. The well-informed stakeholder knows what you hope to accomplish and what benefits are achievable. They are more likely to support you at key stages throughout the project. What’s more, creating rapport with your stakeholders leads to understanding. You are better placed to anticipate their reaction at the various stages of your project and can work together to avoid workplace conflict.
As project manager you need to understand which of your stakeholders’ values—those relating to the project and to the person or group—are likely to have greatest effect on you and the project. For instance, of the three areas of project viability—time, cost, and scope—one is likely to be more important than the others to certain stakeholders. Likewise, stakeholders’ value judgements, which affect project outcomes, are founded on their values and beliefs (that is, what’s important to them.)
Therefore, decide how you are going to interact with your stakeholders, prepare a communications plan, and implement it. That is, routinely engage with your stakeholders according to their importance. This could mean every day or so, or each month. You decide.
Have Your Say
Many stakeholders are indifferent or unaware of your plans. How do you make sure stakeholders are effectively managed and engaged?
Creative Commons image courtesy Flavijus.