Project Stakeholder Management

Knowledge Area Executive Summary

PM-ProLearn SH ManagementThis Knowledge Area is all about the processes used to move stakeholders from their current state of engagement to a desired state of engagement in order to support achievement of project objectives.

  • Process Groups Covered by Stakeholder Management:
    • Initiation
    • Planning
    • Executing
    • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Processes in this Knowledge Area
    • Identify Stakeholders
    • Plan Stakeholder Engagement
    • Manage Stakeholder Engagement
    • Monitor Stakeholder Engagement
  • Major or important ITTOs:
    • Project Charter
    • Business Case
    • Benefits Management Plan
    • Data Representation
    • Decision Making
    • Stakeholder Register
  • Critical concepts

The term ‘stakeholders’ is a general term describing people or groups of people that can impact or be impacted by a project. Stakeholders also include people or groups of people that believe they could be affected by the project or its result.  To ensure that all stakeholders are analyzed and managed appropriately, the stakeholder management happens throughout the lifecycle of the project.  This can be misunderstood since PMI® lists the Identify Stakeholders process in the Initiating Process Group.  Remember that the lifecycle of the project can include multiple initiation cycles, such as at the start of each phase of a project or when new stakeholders become involved with the project.

Project Stakeholder Management includes all of the processes that we will use to identify, analyze, manage, and control stakeholders in our project.  This means that the project team is constantly collecting/identifying stakeholders, analyzing their impact on the project, developing a plan to engage them, and then monitoring the progress or effectiveness of the plan for each stakeholder.  With that in mind, it is important to remember that Stakeholder Management, while described with four independent processes, is actually four interwoven processes that interact with each other throughout the lifecycle of the project.  None can be removed or ignored if we are looking for a successful project outcome and happy/engaged stakeholders.

So how do we put all of this together in a real-world project?  This requires an understanding that all of these processes work in concert with each other and are always happening on a project.  It requires careful management to ensure success.  It requires establishing a rapport with the stakeholders.  It requires using the other members of our project team and other stakeholders to leverage relationships and confidence in the project. It requires constant negotiating, influencing, and communication skills to be employed.  Lastly, it requires a high level of awareness to ensure that new stakeholders are captured and analyzed appropriately for proper levels of engagement.

The ultimate goal of Project Stakeholder Management is to move stakeholders from their current level of engagement to a desired level of engagement in order to achieve project objectives.  In other words, keep tabs on how stakeholders are engaging (or not engaging) with the project and find the best way to gain/maintain their support, or remove their negative feelings of the project outcomes as needed.

Not all stakeholders have the same level of impact on or authority within the project and therefore different strategies for how to engage them must be created.  In order to make sure that we are engaging the people or groups that affect, are affected, or believe they are affected by our project, we must begin as early as possible to identify them and determine the most appropriate way to engage them.  We should treat stakeholder satisfaction as a project goal and just like every other deliverable or objective in our project, we must develop a plan to satisfy it, initiate that plan throughout the project, and then monitor its effectiveness to determine if it is working as expected.

This can be exceptionally important in Agile environments.  This is due to the fact that Agile or adaptive environments are, by definition, constantly changing.  Proper identification and active engagement are required to ensure that stakeholders are aware of the changes and gain their support as quickly as possible.  Engagements in these types of projects require a great deal of communication and transparency.

There are several keys to effective engagement with stakeholders.  Continuous communication is one of these techniques.  Ensuring that frequency, the medium used, and consistency is important to developing highly engaged stakeholders and a key to establishing trust.  This communication can vary from stakeholder to stakeholder (or stakeholder group) based on their needs, expectations, and involvement with the project.

It is also key to address any issues when they occur and not let them linger.  This includes when two stakeholders or groups have conflicting interests within the project.  These conflicts can arise when the needs or expectations of one stakeholder minimize or compromise the expectations of another stakeholder or group.

Knowledge Area Frequently Asked Questions

question-symbol-2804296Q: Do you engage certain stakeholders differently?

A: Each stakeholder or stakeholder group comes to the project with their own needs and agendas.  In order to manage stakeholders effectively, it is important to engage them at the appropriate time, with the appropriate information, in the appropriate form.  This means you need to analyze each stakeholder individually in order to monitor how well your management efforts are working.  For instance, the below lists some common methods and thoughts on how to categorize and manage the various stakeholders.  Remember, stakeholders are anyone directly involved with, affected by, or believe they are affected by the project.

  • Customers: Gathering data on the customer’s needs, culture, business pains and then documenting it will aid you in understanding how to manage this group and the individuals within it.
  • Project team members: Understanding the level of communication needed for each team member and being available to them when issues arise or information is being transferred is very important to this group.  As the Project Manager, you are the central point of accountability for the project.  In order to be effective in this role, you need to be in constant communication with your team.
  • Executives: Executives are often most concerned with project progress and how it is dealing with risks.  This is not always the case, but this group of stakeholders has a large amount of legitimate authority over the project, so keeping them informed of the project (whether good or bad) is extremely important to the success of the project.
  • Resource managers: This group provides resources to your project.  Strong open relationships are the key to ensuring that this group of stakeholders are enablers rather than roadblocks to project success.

What to Memorize in this Knowledge Area

This section will be evaluated in many ways on the PMP® examination.  One of the most common test scenarios deals with the level of engagement each type of stakeholder needs (see the PMP scenario based question below).  In order to ensure that you get as many answers correct as possible in this Knowledge Area, you should memorize the key concepts and purposes of the Power-Interest Grid and Salience Model.

These Data Representation tools can help you determine how to appropriately engage with certain stakeholders.  The easy way to remember the Salience Model is the keyword “P-U-L.”  What kind of ‘pull’ does your stakeholder have?  The P-U-L of the Salience Model is “Power-Urgency-Legitimacy.” This defines where of the Venn diagram (displayed below) your stakeholder lies and the affect they can have on your project outcome.

Salience Model

Also, you will likely want to memorize the five states of stakeholder engagement.   You may even want to add these to your ‘Brain Dump’ for test day.

 Memorize - Study

Knowledge Area Critical Reasoning & Testing Skills

SH Management Word Cloud 2Q: You are the Project Manager on a project designed to plan and execute a corporate internal rewards and awards program.  Your sponsor has a great deal of authority in the organization, but you discover that he does not have much interest in your project.  In order to complete your project successfully, you need the sponsor’s continued support.  What should be your stakeholder management strategy in dealing with your project sponsor?

  1. Keep the sponsor satisfied
  2. Manage the sponsor closely
  3. Monitor the sponsor’s activity
  4. Keep the sponsor informed

EXPLANATION: This question is asking you the level of engagement needed to ensure that you maintain or improve your sponsor’s current level of engagement.  You can see from the phrase, “has a great deal of authority in the organization, but you discover that he does not have much interest in your project” that this stakeholder will likely be managed based upon the concepts for the Power-Interest Grid, which uses two variables to determine the method of engagement; power within the organization or project and interest in the project.  Using that information, you can also notice that the answers available deal with the ways in which we engage stakeholders based on their power and interest.  According to the concepts of the Power-Interest Grid, someone with high power but low interest must be kept satisfied.  So our answer here is “1- Keep the sponsor satisfied.”  If the sponsor had high power AND high interest, we would need to manage that sponsor closely.

Knowledge Area Closing Summary

There are many dynamics regarding Project Stakeholder Management that are not discussed in this article.  Proper Stakeholder Management is vital to project success.  You will need to spend a great deal of time at the beginning and throughout your project to ensure that ALL stakeholders are identified and analyzed for the appropriate level of engagement.  Stakeholder Management is continuous throughout the project and is woven in with the remainder of your Knowledge Areas (which can be researched by clicking here). Especially since the level of required engagement can change during the project based upon the phase or needs of the project.  You’ll need a comprehensive plan to deal with both positive and negative stakeholders.  Without proper management/engagement of the identified stakeholders, you run the risk of your project ‘running off the rails’ due to lack of support or interest.  You will also need to execute that plan correctly and periodically determine how your efforts are working.

Though Project Stakeholder Management contains only four of the 49 PMP® Processes, it is a very detailed Knowledge Area that is absolutely vital to success.  Come learn the secrets of Project Stakeholder Management with one of the many Project Management Professional Instructors from PM-ProLearn.  Let us help you with your PMP success and give you the foundational concepts to guarantee your project success throughout your career!

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