Project Stakeholder Management
Stakeholder management is the process by which you organize, monitor and improve your relationships with your stakeholders. It involves systematically identifying stakeholder; analyzing their needs and expectations; and planning and implementing various tasks to engage with them.
A good stakeholder management process will be the means through which you are able to coordinate your interactions and asses the status and quality of your relationship with various stakeholders. Most definitions of stakeholder management tend to focus around the idea that you can “manage your stakeholders (in order to get them to do what you want)”.
The emphasis is placed on creating a stakeholder management plan that maps the level of interest and influence of stakeholders and list various levels of engagement for the different groups. A plan that is usually created at the start of the project and then filed away to gather dust. This course takes a different focus. We’re not going to show you how to herd sheep, put them in neat little pens and then pretend that they are all heading in the direction you want.
In most cases there is a legal and a strategic objective to undertaking stakeholder engagement/consultation/management. You might have a statutory or legal requirement to consult. And you hopefully have a clear idea of the strategic benefits you might derive from doing it well. This course will show you how you can achieve both those objectives.
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
- Explain what Stakeholder management involves;
- Describe and identify different principles of Stakeholder management
- Understand the roles of leadership in Stakeholder management;
- And many more.
SECTION 1: STAKEHOLDER MANAGEMENT OVERVIEW
Who are Stakeholders?
Stakeholders are individuals who get impacted by the project. A Stakeholder can be a supporter and a resistor. They are a member of "groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist. Any action taken by any organization or any group might affect those people who are linked with them in the private sector. For examples these are parents, children, customers, owners, employees, associates, partners, contractors, and suppliers, people that are related or located nearby.
A project is successful when it achieves its objectives and meets or exceeds the expectations of the stakeholders. But who are the stakeholders? Stakeholders are individuals who either care about or have a vested interest in your project. They are the people who are actively involved with the work of the project or have something to either gain or lose as a result of the project. When you manage a project to add lanes to a highway, motorists are stakeholders who are positively affected. However, you negatively affect residents who live near the highway during your project (with construction noise) and after your project with far-reaching implications (increased traffic noise and pollution).
Culture of Stakeholders
When project stakeholders do not share a common culture, project management must adapt its organizations and work processes to cope with cultural differences. The following are three major aspects of cultural difference that can affect a project:
- Decision making
Stakeholder Engagement Assessment Matrix
The stakeholder engagement assessment matrix helps the project manager categorize the current and desired attitudes of stakeholders. The matrix has five categories for attitudes: unsure, resistant, neutral, supportive, and leading.
Context of the Stakeholder Register
As the primary tool used to track and manage project stakeholders, the stakeholder register is in the middle of various project document inputs and outputs. The stakeholder register inputs include information from the categorization of stakeholders, the status of stakeholders, and the stakeholder engagement assessment matrix. We will discuss each of these in more detail.
SECTION 2: STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
Introduction to Stakeholder Engagement
Stakeholder Engagement will be free of manipulation, interference, coercion, and intimidation, and conducted on the basis of timely, relevant, understandable and accessible information, in a culturally appropriate format. It involves interactions between identified groups of people and provides stakeholders with an opportunity to raise their concerns and opinions (e.g. by way of meetings, surveys, interviews and/or focus groups), and ensures that this information is taken into consideration when making project decisions. Effective stakeholder engagement develops a “social license” to operate and depends on mutual trust, respect and transparent communication
Often there is more than one major stakeholder in the project. An increase in the number of stakeholders adds stress to the project and influences the project’s complexity level. The business or emotional investment of the stakeholder in the project and the ability of the stakeholder to influence the project outcomes or execution approach will also influence the stakeholder complexity of the project.
Relationship Building Tips
Take the time to identify all stakeholders before starting a new project. Include those who are impacted by the project, as well as groups with the ability to impact the project. Then, begin the process of building strong relationships with each one using the following method.
Stakeholder Analysis is the first step in Stakeholder Management, an important process that successful people use to win support from others. Managing stakeholders can help you, too, to ensure that your projects succeed where others might fail. A stakeholder analysis allows you to map out and establish the appropriate level of communication with your stakeholders relative to their influence and interest in your project.
SECTION 3: STAKEHOLDER GROUPS
Project Team Members
Project team members assist the project manager in delivering project success. They often invest considerable time in the project’s design and execution and feel a strong sense of ownership over the project. The savvy project manager nourishes this feeling of ownership among team members and keeps the project team actively engaged. Project managers may spend more time with project team stakeholders than with any other stakeholder group.
Executive stakeholders launch projects, fund projects, kill projects, and determine when projects are complete. No other group of stakeholders is likely to have as much power over project scope and deliverables as the executive stakeholders. The savvy project manager must develop exemplary skills in managing executive stakeholders. Executive stakeholders are senior individuals responsible for setting project goals and ensuring the project manager and the project team deliver those outcomes. Executive stakeholders guide, motivate, reinforce, and support the efforts of the project team. Executive stakeholders include the following groups:
External Stakeholders External stakeholders are people outside of the project organization who are subject to, part of, or have decision-making power over a project. External stakeholders might include the following groups:
- Government regulators Trade unions.
- Not-for-profit groups.
- Citizens’ action groups.
Stakeholders Subject to the Change
Projects create change. Anyone impacted by this change is known as a stakeholder subject to the change. In many projects this represents the largest stakeholder group. The following is a list of several examples of stakeholders subject to the change:
- End users:
- Individuals using the service(s), product(s), or process(es) created by the project.
- Others who use project output in any manner.
SECTION 4: STAKEHOLDER COMMUNICATION AND CONFLICT
Communication has occurred when the idea that is in the project manager’s head is exactly the same as the idea that is in the project stakeholder’s head, and vice versa. Project stakeholder communication is not about getting others to agree with the project manager’s idea; that is buy-in. Project communication also is not about getting others to follow the project manager. That is leadership. Project stakeholder communication is focused on ensuring that the concepts and ideas have been correctly understood by all relevant parties. There are a variety of formal project documents that facilitate project communication. Several of the formal documents frequently discussed in project management doctrine include the following:
Managing Stakeholders in a Virtual World
Project work is increasingly becoming virtual work. Organizations are becoming more global. More people are working from home. Mobile technology is prevalent. All of these forces are contributing to an increase in virtual project teamwork. Project stakeholders may be in different time zones, different locations, different countries, or any other variety of situations that leads to the need for virtual meetings. Working and meeting with stakeholders in a virtual environment creates a unique set of challenges. It also creates benefits.
Managing Stakeholders in a Virtual World
Successfully executing around-the-clock project work requires clear expectations and crisp communication. The members of the team must understand their roles and the handoffs between their work and the work of other team members. Technology such as shared servers and common work sites can enhance the communication.
General Stakeholder Management Skills
Project managers are leaders. In this lesson, we discuss the role of the project manager as leader. Specifically, we focus on the project manager’s role leading stakeholders. As discussed in prior sections of this course, there are many different types of stakeholders. Therefore, there is not one leadership approach that is equally effective for all stakeholders. Successful project managers must develop and apply a variety of leadership styles.
Leadership Model Step 1:
Awareness, is the foundational skill for understanding the interpersonal aspect of projects. Successful project stakeholder management requires keen awareness on the part of the project manager. Since there is no one approach that always works with project stakeholder’s awareness will help project managers understand how to tailor their approach to the situation at hand.
Leadership Model Step 2
Awareness leads to knowledge that may require adaptation. Project managers should not be content simply being aware of what’s going on around them. Research shows that project managers who do not adapt decrease their chances of project success. This is also true with leadership. If the project manager leads all people the same way in all situations, then doing so is going to make things worse in some situations. The behavior that works for one person may be the absolute wrong way to lead another person. Also, the way to lead the same person in one situation may be very different from the most effective way to lead that person in a different situation. Project managers must adapt
Leadership Model Step 3
The third step in the leadership model is to take action. Actions should not be taken until the project manager has made himself or herself aware of the situation and adapted the leadership style accordingly. Even in urgent situations the project manager should take a few moments to assess the situation before acting. The first two steps of the leadership model are aware and adapt, which align directly with Awareness and Adaptability. The third step of the leadership model, act, is composed of the remaining four disciplines of A Sixth Sense for Project Management
SECTION 5: STAKEHOLDER MANAGEMENT SKILLS
Introduction to Stakeholder Mapping
Stakeholder Mapping is a process and visual tool to clarify and categorize the various stakeholders by drawing further pictures of what the stakeholder groups are, which interests they represent, the amount of power they possess, whether they represent inhibiting or supporting factors for the organization to realize its objectives, or methods in which they should be dealt with. It allows to understand who the stakeholders are for the organization.
Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel. It is to bring another out of his bad sense into your good sense. Project managers are routinely required to gain support for their ideas. Whether it’s selling project objectives to a skeptical stakeholder, encouraging a human resources executive to provide more people for the project team, or convincing a vendor to support a change in scope, projects are one opportunity after another to earn support.
It is important for the project manager to understand the difference between a negotiation and a power play. In a negotiation, the project manager has a chance of changing the other party’s perspective. In a negotiation, the project manager can engage in a conversation and work collaboratively toward results. In a power play, by contrast, the project manager is not able to do either of these.