Posted on June 22nd, 2011 in - Kathy Martucci, Management, Project Management, Resources | No Comments »
By Kathy Martucci, PMP
You’d swear that you and your team are doing everything possible to create buy-in, communicate to and assist your stakeholders. Your stakeholders think you ignore them, hide things and hinder their progress. What is going here? Is this a matter of perspective or fact?
Good stakeholder management may be in the eye of the beholder, but it’s a critical success factor in any project large or small. So, if your customers perceive (and their perception is reality!) that you and your team are doing a less than stellar job of communicating, what can a conscientious PM do?
Stakeholder identification is key. All stakeholders, even those deemed “observers” and not active participants, should be included in any stakeholder involvement plan. Granted, the observers may not have as much influence on the project, but they are part of your community nevertheless. They must be considered.
So who does exert the most influence? That person is not necessarily highest in the organization chart. Maybe it’s the person who is most vocal and will stop at nothing to get their point across and make a statement regardless of your project objectives, schedule or budget. You know who I’m talking about – you all have THAT person’s face in your mind right now! Analyze your stakeholders and understand how each general grouping (executives, supporters, killers, PITA’s…etc.) learns, communicates and can contribute to the success of the project.
And now the question every stakeholder has on their mind: “What’s in it for ME?” Project politics at its best uncovers and understands the concerns of the stakeholders and does not attribute every negative or seemingly obstructive statement to a bad attitude. Does the project provide real benefits whether they are of a personal or corporate nature? If so, what are they in terms the stakeholder can understand and fully embrace?
While addressing those concerns based on fact, there are stakeholders that whine, complain and otherwise make your life miserable without a sound basis for their complaints. When pressed, they cannot articulate anything you can do to assist them or allay their fears. Many times I have been tempted to just ignore “bad” stakeholders. Perhaps they should get less attention, but they are stakeholders no matter what and it’s our job to handle them. Even acting as a sounding board (if you can stand it) may be helpful.
One critical factor in stakeholder management that is often overlooked is periodic review and evaluation of stakeholder identification, classification and methodologies to engage as the project evolves. Especially important in longer projects with significantly shifting scope, a re-evaluation may be a sound foundation to continuing success of the project. Getting to Know You is an iterative process!
What have you done to make project stakeholder management work for you?