January 19, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Stakeholder Management Best Practice Tools

Essential skills for stakeholder management

Stakeholder Management Best Practice Tools audio

Stakeholder management requires getting commitment from stakeholders as the cornerstone of success in projects.  The needs and concerns of stakeholders define the project plan. As a follow-up from the previous stakeholder management best practices article, I want to share with you a best practice communication tool as an essential skill for stakeholder management.

How to communicate Smart, measureable, attainable, realistic, time-bound

The tool that I have used successfully in projects before, is called “Conditions of Satisfaction” or COS. As soon as the project manager identifies who the key stakeholders are, he needs to have a discussion with the customer(s) to determine what their conditions for satisfaction are. It is necessary to make the COS statements specific, measureable, attainable, realistic/relevant, time bound (SMART).

These conditions are then communicated back to the project team, partners and vendors.  Once the conditions are determined, they must be agreed and summarised in writing for the customer(s).

Once documented, add any agreed-upon actions to meet them, as well as the planned completion dates. Post the COS to the project repository.

Examples of conditions of satisfaction (COS) are:

  • Sponsor expects external consultant to be on-site, during core hours
    • Action: consultant will be on-site between 9am and 4pm and log this on his time-sheet for the duration of the project
  • Sponsor expects skills transfer between specialist and team members who will do roll-out and support
    • Action: put skills transfer actions (workshop & presentations) as activities on project plan to track them before end of planning phase
  • Minimize extra cost
    • Action: Try to reduce travel costs, by developing estimates and travel schedule, by having more tele- and video-conferences during execution phase of the project

Communicate the Conditions (COS) to the entire project team and ensure that everyone on the team knows the COS and has plans for how they will help achieve / exceed the COS in the role they play on the project.

Conditions of Satisfaction

At all project meetings, both internal and with the customer, you need to address progress against the COS and identify plans to address any problems. During project closure, the COS will again be discussed to evaluate whether the customer’s conditions were met by the project.  This stakeholder management communications tool leads to a satisfied customer, a happy customer and ultimately a more successful project.

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder management and engagement is an essential skill that project managers need to develop. A successful project needs to satisfy the triple constraint of time, cost and quality/performance, but it must also meet requirements of functionality, reliability, maintainability, efficiency, integration and operability.

How to determine your success

To determine if the project was successful, you need to assess the following:

  • Did the project provide satisfactory benefit to the users?
  • Measure whether value has been added.
  • Did the project completely meet predefined objectives?

For success the project experience should have been positive and the project will have added value. The project would have satisfied the needs and concerns of the stakeholders, as well as the project team members and would have allowed the team to acquire new skills.

If you know of other stakeholder management skills or tools that you have used successfully in your projects, please share those with us in the comments section.

Please click HERE to listen to a recording of this article. If you wish to download a free copy of this audio file, please right click on the link and select “save link as” to save to your desired location.

About the author: Linky van der Merwe is a former Microsoft Project Management Consultant and an IT Project Manager with 14 years IT industry experience and 11 years Project Management experience.

She consults with small-medium business owners and service professionals about project management and project processes, best practices and successful delivery through projects.  She can be reached at linky@virtualprojectconsulting.com

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  1. Thanks, Linky, for this post. I’ve used COS before on engagements and I have been pleased with the results. I found them to be especially useful in managing stakeholders expectations when review intervals are relatively short (i.e., three months). It gives the stakeholders the opportunity to formally change their success criteria and not let something fester; it gives the project manager a vehicle to manage satisfaction. When used well (especially in difficult project environments), COS can be a life saver!

  2. Geoff, I agree. It doesn’t need to be difficult to manage stakeholder expectations and to end up with a satisfied customer. That is why COS is such an effective tool.

  3. The best Stakeholder Management Best Practice Tools are described very well in this blog. Thanks for the point to point information.

  4. Keep posting the good info, I really like it.


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