Are you actively managing project stakeholders?
Stakeholder management is as key to a successful project outcome as communications management. Today I want to focus on best practices relating to managing stakeholders on projects.
For complete clarity about stakeholder management, let’s look at it from the angle of:
- What a stakeholder is
- Who stakeholders are
- Why you must do stakeholder management
- When to communicate
What is a stakeholder? Stakeholders are people who are actively involved in projects, who exert influence on projects and whose interests may be positively/negatively affected by projects. Source: PMBOK
Who are stakeholders?
The key stakeholders on projects are the project manager, project team members, the project sponsor, the customer and the performing organization. Other stakeholders could include:
- Internal and external owners and funders
- Sellers and contractors
- Team members & their families
- Government agencies and media outlets
- Society at large
Why do stakeholder management?
On any project a project manager needs to identify project stakeholders in order to determine their requirements and to manage and influence the requirements. Identify stakeholders during initiation phase of Project life cycle.
Throughout the project you need to actively manage the stakeholder’s requirements and expectations. Influencing the organisation involves the ability to ‘get things done’. This requires from a project manager an understanding of both formal and informal structure of the organisation involved, for example the customers, partners, contractors, office politics etc.
One golden rule to remember is when there is a difference between stakeholders, it should be resolved in favour of the customer. Finding appropriate resolutions to such differences can be a major challenge of project management.
The reason why you need to do stakeholder management is to drive stakeholder satisfaction. This requires reliable, dependable, repeatable effort from your side. You need to know the needs and expectations of stakeholders and invest in those needs. A frequent investment (weekly, ever daily) in the needs of the stakeholders helps projects to be successful.
When to communicate with stakeholders?
You need to communicate with your project stakeholders a number of times as documented in your communications plan:
- Beginning of a project
- Weekly at progress meetings
- Regular Reviews and reporting
- At the end of a project
In summary a project manager needs to manage and influence stakeholder requirements to ensure a successful project.
In the next blog post about stakeholder management, I am going to share some best practices tools that you can use to really ensure customer satisfaction.
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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 is most experienced in corporate infrastructure projects (upgrades, migration, deployment etc) and process optimisation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org