Best Practices in Stakeholder Management

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Stakeholders in a project are those who are actively involved in a project, and whose interests are impacted by the success/failure of the project. The stakeholders could range from developers, IT support team, upper management to external vendors, customers, the government and the society at large.

The project manager has to resolve the conflicts

Given the vast number of stakeholders involved in a project, it is not unusual to have conflicts. It is the responsibility of the project manager to resolve them and direct the project towards a direction that is acceptable for all the major stakeholders. In this post, I will cover the best practices in stakeholder management.

  1. Identify and document all the major stakeholders involved in the project. Create a stakeholder map.
  2. Not all stakeholders are made the same. Prioritize the stakeholders by creating a stakeholder interest/power matrix. For each stakeholder, plot them in the grid based on their interest and importance levels. Those with high power and high interest levels are to be managed closely while those with low levels of interest & power can have minimal monitoring.
  3. Understand the motives and cultural influences of all the major stakeholders. Give them due attention and make them feel important. In many technology teams, the support teams feel left out and feel less important. As a project manager, it is important for you to keep them all motivated to complete the project. Get all the stakeholders on your side by giving due weight to their opinions and addressing their apprehensions.
  4. Clearly spell out the expectations of each of the stakeholders before the start of the project. Talk about what the developers want, the quality control guys want and the expectations of the IT support guys etc. This can avoid nasty surprises towards the end of the project.
  5. Assign roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for the major stakeholders. Make sure all the stakeholders are on the same page regarding who is waiting for what task and who is responsible for getting that task done. One way to do this is by drawing a RACI matrix.
  6. Enable proper information flow among the stakeholders. It is important to have a stakeholder meeting at least once before, during and after the project. There must be frequent updates that shows the progress of various parts of the project. Read our earlier article on the best practices in stakeholder communication.
  7. After an agreement is reached on any of the core issues (such as, what will be the dominant colors of your brand or which platform will you use for developing your website) get a sign-off from all the major stakeholders. This will guard against miscommunication and change of direction further down the line.

The project manager must respect the time and the cost for their projects

Effective stakeholder management is needed for the completion of projects on-time and at estimated costs. It is important that a project manager pays sufficient attention to this aspect.

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