Stakeholder Management – I
Who is a stakeholder?
Any person or group or an organization, which is effected or impacted by the project directly or indirectly, positively or negatively is called as stake holder. Even with a slightest interest in the project or on its outcome, anyone and everyone can be taken as a stakeholder of the project.
Project stakeholders are individuals, groups, or organizations who may affect, be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project. They are comprised of persons and organizations such as customers, sponsors, the performing organization, and the public who are actively involved in the project, or whose interest may be positively or negatively affected by the execution or completion of the project. They may also exert influence over the project and its deliverables….. [PMBOK 5 chapter 13 project stakeholder management, page 394]
What is there to manage them?
When you have stakeholders for the project, they will have some desires, expectations, fancies, dreams…..etc. It is your responsibility to keep them informed, convinced and agreed on all your decision and actions. Of course, you will not do this with everyone, but with some of them.
How to select or identify some of them to keep them happy always?
You need to identify those stake holders by yourself. It is simple! Depending upon the interest what a stakeholder has in the project, authority or power he can exhibit or execute, Kind of influence he has in influencing the decisions, Financial stake (if at all exists) and some other factors , you will have to make out who are the stake holders you need to satisfy.
Best places to start identifying stake holders are 1. Project Charter, 2. Procurement and Contract documents, 3. Enterprise Environmental Factors and 4. Process Assets.
How to manage the stake holders?
It is not a straight cake from the bakery to buy and eat. As you understood that each stake holder is different, there are different reasons why a person is a stakeholder and as Authorities, powers and influence of all the stakeholders are not same, you can’t manage all of them in the same way with same technique or strategy. You need to plan very carefully and come out with a strategy to manage them.
After you are done with your planning, you need to implement or execute the plan throughout the project in all phases. If required you need to change the strategy or improve it to control the situation.
The way how a PM will manage the stakeholder is the major factor which decides the success or failure of the project.
So, so far in the discussion we came out with following activities (in PMBOK terms) what PM is expected to do as part of Stakeholder management.
- Identify Stakeholders.
- Plan stakeholder management.
- Manage stakeholder engagement.
- Control Stakeholder engagement.
OK! After identifying a couple of people as important or influential stake holders whom as a PM , I have to manage and keep them satisfied, Where will I maintain their details or where will I record them as stakeholders? Is that your question?
Good Question! Answer is “Stake holder Register”.
Woo, stake holder register! How do I prepare it? Where should I start in preparing it?
Stake holder register is the output of the Identify Stakeholders process. Stake holders are everywhere, it is you with your intelligence and analytical skills you need to correctly choose who the required stakeholders are. You need to depend on specialist’s consultation or advice,sometimes in understanding and deciding the stakeholders. Technically we call it as “Expert Judgment”. Typically more experienced project managers in your organization, or PMs who have worked on similar projects in the past, already identified stakeholders, consultants, external associations, regulatory bodies fall under the specialist’s category that you are expected to contact in your journey of identifying stakeholders.You can call for or participate in meetings where the roles and responsibilities are discussed, interests & involvement of different people are discussed so that you can easily make out who the stakeholders are.
It takes lot of PM effort to analyze and gather all supportive and helpful data to decide whose interests should be considered throughout the project. You will be learning about their interests, influences and expectations of all such identified people and will try to understand the relation between different stakeholders. Easiest way is to come out with your own classification methods to classify all the identified stakeholders.
Given below is the power-interest grid for the readers to understand and use it. As per this grid stake holders are classified as
- High power – Low interest
- High Power – High Interest
- Low Power – Low Interest
- Low Power – High Interest
If a stakeholder is analyzed as a high power individual and with low interest in the project, then the right quadrant to place him in the blow grid is Keep Informed quadrant. Text in the quadrant tells you what to do with those stake holders.
Just think of some dummy stakeholders and try to place them in the grid for your exercise.
To club together whatever we have discussed so far:
- Stake holder identification is the responsibility of a PM
- PM starts stakeholder identification with project charter, procurement documents, Enterprise Environmental factors and Process assets.
- Uses techniques like Expert judgment, meetings and analysis to decide the stakeholders.
- Finally creates “Stakeholder register”.
What will there in stakeholder register?
Below is some of the information that will be mentioned in Stakeholder register.
- Name of the stakeholder
- Role in the project
- Influence in the project
- Internal or External stakeholder
- In favor or against
Along with above specified information there is lot of other information mainly falling under stakeholder identification, Classification and analysis that is mentioned in stakeholder register.
It is now that you have identified stakeholder for your project. Now it is time to plan how to deal with them. Rather than saying dealing, we can say that PM should plan to manage them. As we have identified stakeholders already, we know who are they and what their role and influence will be in the project? Do we? Where will we find that information? Yes, there you are…it is in Stakeholder register. So, you need to start with stakeholder register now. It will be your one of the inputs to your process of planning stakeholder management. When we are planning how to manage stakeholders, we need to know their involvement, influence and interest in different phases and modules of the project. To understand their involvement and interests in such a way, you need to make out how the project or modules in a project will affect stakeholders and you can make it out from project management plan. So, Project management plan will also be used in planning stakeholder management.
Project management plan will provide information on the process that are selected to be followed in the project, how and when different activities are planned and executed in the project, Resource planning and utilization, requirement management and communication methods that are selected to be adhered to. Along with these, PM should also consider the kind of organization he is working with, Situations and circumstances under which he is executing the project, social relations and political environment…etc., These are all part of Enterprise environmental factors.
PM might also be taking help of existing knowledge base in the organization, might be referring to similar projects if executed in the past and lessons learnt documents from them. In short as a PM he is trying to make use ofOrganization Process Assets to execute his current project. Using Stakeholder register, project management plan, Enterprise factors, process assets, and a project manager will go through a process in which he will consult with experts to take their advice and knowledge in understanding and deciding the strategy to be applied in managing individual stakeholders. Some of the experts PM meets to take experts’ advice are already identified stakeholders, senior project members…etc., There might be one or more than one rounds of meeting with these people and many others like consultants, associated organizations before PM finalizesthe stakeholder management plan. A simple way a PM follows to classify stakeholders is to identify their interest on the project. Some stakeholders may be supportive and some might be opposing. Some may stay neutral and some may really get involved in the project very well. PMBOK 5 suggests using the below stakeholder engagement assessment matrix to be clear on stakeholders current and desired engagement.
Stakeholder engagement assessment matrix – PMBOK 5 page 403.
From the above matrix we can understand that stakeholders could fall into one of the classifications.
- Unaware – Stakeholders is unaware of project and its outcome
- Resistant – Stakeholders are aware of project but they are resistant to it
- Neutral – They neither support nor oppose.
- Supportive – They are supportive to the project and its objective
- Leading – Actively involved in making the project success.
Above 5 classifications are mentioned in PMBOK 5 page 402.
So, to put it together stakeholder management plan is the result of Plan Stakeholder Management process and it gives you the below information.
- Stakeholders and how they are impacted with project or part of project.
- How and when to distribute information and communicate to stakeholders
- What to be communicated or distributed to stakeholders.
- Current engagement and future/desired engagement of stakeholders.
- How, when and under what situations the stakeholder management plan have to be changed or updated.
A small note to readers is that, please be informed that stakeholder management plan along with other plans, forms a part of project management plan.
Questions & Answers
- You are given an opportunity to manage a large project which is half way through its journey and in critical situation with many of the stakeholders complaining that what has been communicated to them is not what is happening in the project. You would like to start by understandings that are the stakeholders and what their influence and interests are. What is the right place to start your journey in the project?
- A. Stakeholder management plan
- B. Project Management Plan
- C. Meeting senior people and known stakeholders on the project
- D. Stakeholder register.
Correct Answer: D [ Stakeholder register is the place where we records details and interests ]
- Along with stakeholder register and project management plan, what are the other elements that are taken as inputs to the Plan Stakeholder management process? (Select all that apply)
- A. Communication Management Plan
- B. Project Charter
- C. Enterprise Environmental Factors
- D. Organizational Process Assets.
Correct Answer: C, D [ Enterprise Environmental Factors and Org Process Assets are common inputs to every process]
- When it is time in your project to distribute important update information on the project status to stakeholders, you want be clear on whom are the stakeholders interested in that communication or who should receive that communication mandatorily? Which the right place to refer for stake holder interests and impact they would get because of the project?
- A. Stakeholder management plan
- B. Stakeholder communication plan
- C. Stakeholder Identification plan
- D. Stakeholder Requirements and Expectations document.
Correct Answer: A [Stakeholder Management plan as a whole will give that information]
- As a PM why it is important to take into account the enterprise environmental factors as an input for the process of Plan Stakeholder Management?
- A. EEF gives information on the culture and structure of organization
- B. EEF gives information on legal policies, government regulations, Standards to follow…etc.,
- C. Current industry trends.
- D. EEF helps in determining the best options to support a better adaptive process for managing stakeholders.
Correct Answer: D [Every option is correct, but last option gives a generic purpose.]
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