Manage your stakeholders well and in return you will have a well-managed project.
Time, Cost and Quality are not as important as…
Stakeholder management when it comes down to delivering a successful project. With delivering projects the Time, Cost and Quality aspect of the project can be flexed, bent or extended (but never removed) depending on the needs of the project. One aspect that is non-negotiable is stakeholder management. As long as stakeholder management is continuous and relevant the project increases its chances of delivering a successful project.
Stakeholder management ultimately breaks down into the following 3 key elements, which are best referred to as the Stakeholder ACE principle:
- Stakeholder Appreciation
- Stakeholder Communication
- Stakeholder Engagement
Only by appreciating the stakeholders you will aim to understand and comprehend what the stakeholder offers to the project. Ignoring stakeholders at any stage of the project can result in irreversible damage to the company, project and project manager. Appreciating stakeholders involves:
- It is important to treat each stakeholder with respect and trust to help build a two way appreciation between the project manager and stakeholder.
- Understand and comprehend the stakeholders past experience to understand the stakeholder
- Do not underestimate the ability of a stakeholder to provide the answer or direction required, whether they are a director or a system user.
- Making sure the stakeholders are acknowledged for the responsibilities they have and decisions they need to make.
- Show interest in the information and respond to the information in a proactive and positive manner. Challenging stakeholders in a positive manner will demonstrate interest and dedication to the project.
- Do not disregard the information coming from the stakeholder. The information being shared by the stakeholder might not always be relevant but as a project manager you should assess the information and manage the use of that information in line with the project.
Keeping the flow of communication open between the project manager and stakeholders in the project is very important to maintain engagement and involvement by stakeholders. Using various mediums and resources as ones disposal will aid in the communication process. A vital aspect of communication is to never let it go stale or become irrelevant to the audience it is intended for.
Stakeholder engagement is about enabling stakeholders to take responsibility, get involved and developing a sense of ownership in the project.
- Build integrity and trust by being open and honest with stakeholder
- Be proactive with information and risk management to foresee issues
- Deliver bad news early as possible but be proactive with the bad news
- Engage stakeholders and get the stakeholder to take responsibility and ownership
By keeping Stakeholders at the forefront of any project you will be sure to have the most effective foundation to deliver a successful project. Remember to always lead by Appreciation, Communication and Engagement.