Stakeholder Management – II
We have covered Identifying Stakeholders and Planning Stakeholder Engagement in previous article on stakeholder management. Now, we are left with Manage Stakeholder Engagement (the execution of the planning part we completed before) and Control Stakeholder engagement (The process of verifying the engagement process and revising it or improving it whenever necessary).
As soon as you hear about managing stakeholder engagement process, I am pretty sure that most of you would have identified Stakeholder management plan as one of the inputs. Yes, you are right and it is with our common sense we can make it out that Stakeholder management plan should be one of the inputs. As we have already read that PM responsibility is to communicate and work with stakeholders and to take care that all their needs, issues are addressed and maintain the same level of relation throughout the project. If a project manager considers this responsibility as important and executes this with utmost care, it helps him to maintain a healthy and supportive project environment and also reduces the opposition and resistance from certain stakeholders. When the opposing or resistance is reduced, healthy relation is maintained through all phases of project, most of the expectations and needs of stakeholders are addressed, communication is maintained, and then the chances of project success will increase. Duties of a PM in this process includes involving selected and suitable stakeholders into required phases of the project , Keep them informed on the updates and get their support and commitment, Maintain in time and sufficient communication with all the necessary stakeholders and some other. In order to maintain a continuing and in time communication with all the stakeholders at the levels are phases of project where respective stakeholders involvement is required, PM should always be referring to communication management plan, which make it as one of the inputs to this process. Communication management plan gives PM information on when and how to communicate, What level of details have to be communicated to each stakeholder, the way and format the stakeholder prefers to receive the communication, Reason for communication etc.,
One of the most critical and important situation when an in time communication is expected is when there is a change in the project. Change and its impact have to be analyzed and communicated to all relevant stakeholders so that their support and involvement is guaranteed. With their support it will be a tough journey for a PM to driving project and the change. Especially when there is a change its impact on the project with respect to the schedule, cost, risk it newly brings in, how a particular change will impact other parts of the project…etc., has to be communicated to relevant stakeholders. For a PM to do all this as required he need to have a track and record of all changes that are being introduced and their impact. All this information will be recorded and maintained in CHANGE LOG. A change log contains information on all changes whether they are accepted and implemented or not.
When we have a change, we need to have a standard or agreed process to manage that change. When a change is least expected to show some impact, we need to have a plan in place or a process in place to analyze the impact and properly address it. All these standards, process, management procedures and other information what you can get from other projects and similar completed projects makes the organizational process assets as another input to the process.
So, now we are clear that Stakeholder Management Plan, Communications Management Plan, Change log and Process Assets are inputs to the process of Manage Stakeholder Engagement.
How do we actually conduct this process? Or what are the techniques we use to execute this process as it is expected to be?
Let me put it in very simple words. We know that most part of the stake holder management is communication, first and foremost thing a PM should be clear about is communication methods to be used with each identified stakeholder. This, PM can understand with the help of communication management plan. COMMUNICATION METHODS is first technique to use.
For some time if we come out of our technological world, forget about clearly laid process, important areas where a PM is mandatorily expected to excel is in his interpersonal and management skills. These can’t be taught but have to be self-acquired. These skills are seen different in different people. I mean, the style what one PM exhibits will be different from another. By definition project management is applying the knowledge and skills to lead a project to success. When the application of knowledge and skills is to be spoken about, there is no confirmed way we can say they can be implemented. It is a very vast area to learn or understand, but there are some common things what a PM is expected to address or a PM will certainly have to face in the life time of a project.
- A PM as a leader should gain the confidence of his team/people and each other should have trust between them.
- Conflict is the expected thing to happen when we work with people. PM should plan his style of conflict resolution. He may also take help of others to learn their effective ways.
- People in general are very resistant to change. As a PM you need to overcome your own internal resistance to change and then help your team also achieve that.
- All other soft skills like, active listening, believing in self, impart the vision, align to business objective will still stay valid and they have to be given careful thought.
Along with soft skills, we have mentioned management skills also before. What are they?
What are you managing? Project isn’t it? So, your management skills should facilitate and help people to agree with project objectives in case there are disagreements, Gain people’s full support for the project, Negotiation and adapting to the changing external environments including organizational strategies and behavior.
So, it is communication management plan, Soft Skills or interpersonal skills and Management skills are the tools we depend or use in this process. In this process we may come across or identify many issues to be addressed. As a PM it is your responsibility to maintain a record of all the issues that are identified and addressed. Result of such recording the issues is ISSUE LOG.
Similarly, in the process of stakeholder management, there might come many changes to project requirement, structure, execution method, product etc., these change requests might be due to different stakeholders interests and involvement. As with change requests, there may be a situation where you need to add additional stakeholders or remove existing stakeholders due to changing project conditions, requirements might get added or removed because of changing business needs, introducing new process or improving existing process with an idea of improving efficiency. In all these cases respective documents have to be updated. You may be required to update Project Management Plan, Project documents or Process assets.
So, Project management plan update, process asset updates and project document updates are the out puts of this process of Manage Stakeholder Engagement.
We have identified stakeholders, Ready with stakeholder management plan, planned the Managing of stakeholder engagement and we are now in the last step of stakeholder management that is Control Stakeholder Engagement.Managing Stakeholders as per the plan we have prepared so far constantly adjusting or improving the plans and strategies for engaging the stakeholders is what a PM does in this phase. Due to constantly observing and trying to do the necessary changes and improvements to the plans and process, effectiveness of stakeholder management is improved and usefulness of this process is maintained to the expected level.
Control Stakeholder Engagement process needs information on life cycle of the project, Information on human resources, roles and responsibilities and information on how changes are managed in the project, Identified Issues and related details as inputs. Above required information are mentioned in project management plan and Issue log as we have discussed earlier. So, those two will be taken as inputs to this process. Along with them, measurements and observations recorded during the execution of different activities in the project called as performance data and all the required project documents like Stakeholder register, Schedules, Logs, communication plan will also be taken as inputs.
Inputs so taken will be used to analyze to understand the health condition of the process, Expert judgment will be taken to ensure that stakeholders are properly identified and managed and continuously assessed for their relevance on the project. Expert judgment can happen through meeting the experts individually or in meetings. Sometimes surveys and panel techniques are also used.
As the control process is constantly observing and bringing in necessary changes to the project or to stakeholder management plan here in this case, it can be understood easily that this process may result in updates to Project Management plan. When I say project management plan, understand that all the plans are sub plans of project management plan. So, updates might be required for any of the plans. Below are some of the plans that may get updated in this process.
- Change management plan
- Communication management plan
- Stakeholder management plan
- Schedule management plan
- Quality management plan
- Cost management plan.
- Human resource management plan
- Risk management plan
- Scope management plan.
Along with the above plan being updated, there might be updates for project documents like stakeholder register, Issue log and process assets.
Questions & Answers
- As a PM of a newly started project, with several teams working on, you plan to record all the issues that will be identified and will come across while going through different phases of project. As a first step you would like to look into the documents of an old project which you are informed that it is similar to current one. Which project document you better look into to understand the issues in previous project?
- A. Risk Management Plan
- B. Change Management Plan
- C. Change Log
- D. Issue Log.
Correct Answer: D [Issue is the place where issues are documented]
- Half way through the project, you are left with lot of problems related to project execution and as a measure to understand the methods to address those problems, you started looking into existing and previous similar project documents such as lessons learnt, issue log, presentations, correspondence, etc., In a way you a referring to what in inputs in this process?
- A. Project Documents
- B. Organizational Process Assets
- C. Project management Plan
- D. Stakeholder management plan.
Correct Answer: B [all mentioned items in the questions falls under Organizational Process Assets].