Managing the Stakeholder and Management Strategies

Experienced project managers understand the importance of stakeholder management. Stakeholders can influence many aspects of a project, including its budget, resources and overall progression. In order to manage stakeholders well, a fluid line of communication must be established. This requires that a project manager deliver regular reports to stakeholders and actively listen whenever stakeholders provide feedback. To properly communicate this with the stakeholder then they should be identified first.

The term stakeholder includes anyone that is affected by the project, both within the organization and without. Typical stakeholders can include investors, regulatory bodies, vendors, project teams, senior managers, board members and more. Obviously, not all of those stakeholders will be impacted by the project to the same degree, so the next step is to identify how and to what extent each stakeholder is affected.

Once the stakeholders have been identified, then analysis must take place in respect to their interest in the project and their influence on its outcome. These two metrics combined will help prioritize which stakeholders to focus on as the project is being managed.

For example, if a stakeholder has a lot of influence over the project, but isn’t that interested in its daily progress, then they shouldn’t be pestered with status reports every day. For help with prioritizing project stakeholders, it’s common to perform a visual process called stakeholder mapping.

Keep in mind that a stakeholder mapping matrix will only give part of the story, as stakeholders are human beings and will naturally react to events and communications in unique ways, even if they have similar levels of interest and influence. Some individuals might have endless patience, while others might be quick to anger. This is important to consider as communication plans with the stakeholder is being composed.

Once this has been conducted, then it is time to create an overall plan for managing them as the project progresses. Because without an agreeable relationship with stakeholders, the project is in for some rough sailing.

Communication is essential for a positive relationship with each of the stakeholders. Stakeholders need clear business communications, free of jargon that fits busy schedules and provides the information that applies to their project interest. Some stakeholders will like phone calls, others emails. Some stakeholders will demand in depth task reports, while others will want overall project status reports.

If a project management software is chosen, it must be able to efficiently communicate with the stakeholders, allowing for leverage of relationships and promote progress and avoid any bureaucratic roadblocks. Projectmanagementcompanion.com has a selection of easy reporting tools that can create status reports, task reports and project progress reports, making it easy to quickly distribute tailored reports to stakeholders.

Remember communication is a two way street, the stakeholder must be listened to throughout this process, and not just feeding them with reports and updates. That’s where a strategy to adapt to changes comes in handy.

It’s important to actively listen to the stakeholder when feedback is given. Always ask questions to really understand what they are wanting from the project. It’s better to ask questions now then have to deal with another meeting later that takes up even more time. Of course, implementing changes to a project plan will require a redistribution of resources. Resource management tools can be absolutely critical in this instance.

Use software which has workload tools that allow quick overview of the workload assigned to the entire team on a single calendar view, and then easily reassign work and project resources with just a few clicks. This allows the adoption of changes put forth by stakeholders in just a matter of minutes.

Naturally, the stakeholder won’t always be right, ensure to pick battles carefully. It’s okay to say no to a stakeholder, be ready to defend the argument with solid data.

Use regular communications with stakeholders to not only converse, but to monitor their emotions and reactions. If there are any abrupt changes in attitude noticed, then something might be amiss in the relationship.

Stakeholder relationships can also take a hit if there are errors in the overall project execution, such as missed deadlines, inaccurate budgets or employee turnover. In such instances, it’s smart to make an extra effort to reach out and keep everyone informed.

In addition to managing the stakeholders themselves, it’s also import to monitor any project changes they might have suggested. The best way to do this is with a project dashboard that provides a bird’s eye view of all the important data.

Given everything that’s been mentioned, the importance of project stakeholder management is clear. Without their cooperation, it’s impossible to bring a project to a successful conclusion. That’s why, as a project manager, it’s critical that an atmosphere of positive stakeholder relationships will leave them happy with the team’s performance, the project manager, and outcomes.

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