Have you ever failed as a Project Manager because you could not manage your project stakeholders? Stakeholders could be anybody from individuals to groups, organizations to society, internal or external, who drive your project towards success or failure. Many projects fail because of the following reasons:
- the stakeholders go unidentified either unintentionally or intentionally,
- their influence over the projects is either over estimated or underestimated,
- wrong interpretation/understanding of their requirements,
- weak professional relationships and trust.
I remember managing a very simple video development project that failed because of some of the reasons stated above.
However, I also have an example of an eLearning project development consisting of 9 modules where I had identified all the stakeholders (Project Owner, SMEs, and Head of the division), analyzed the interest of each stakeholder in the project and the control they have in the project approval, planned my communication with them and executed all of these tasks successfully. This helped me manage project deviations and align them to stakeholders’ requirements. The outcome was a quality course that met the stakeholders’ specifications on time and within budget.
Therefore, effective and successful management of projects requires effective management of stakeholders.
Five simple steps that I follow to manage my stakeholders effectively are:
Identifying individuals or groups, internal and external who can impact the decisions, activities, or outcomes of my project.
Analyzing and documenting information regarding every identified stakeholders interest, involvement, influence, role, expectation and impact on my projects success. The influence-interest matrix is very helpful to identify the engagement level for each stakeholder and plan accordingly.
Planning communication strategies for effective management of the stakeholders during the project development process. The plan is designed based on the interest, involvement and influence they have in my project.
Implementing my communication plan and strategies to understand their requirements, align the project outcome to meet their specifications, win trust and build long-term relationship.
Managing and controlling stakeholders involvement in different development phases, address issues and conflicts as they occur, revise my communication plan and strategies if required.
So, as a project manager, these are the steps I follow to effectively manage my stakeholders. If you have any tips or ideas, do share them with us.