Happy Monday! I hope you enjoyed last week’s post on developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). It wasn’t ground breaking stuff and there are other variations and approaches, but that was simple and has worked for me through the years. This week, I would like to stay on another Project Management topic/responsibility…Stakeholder Analysis.
I don’t think I subscribe to this level of commitment and teamwork, but you can certainly get a lot done when others are supporting. Here is the video of the week.
The PMBOK 4th Edition defines stakeholders as follows: Persons or organization (e.g., customers, sponsors, the performing organization, or the public), who are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the performance or completion of the project. It goes on to say “Stakeholders may also exert influence over the project, its deliverables , and the project team members.”
I think this is a great definition, but the there is one aspects that may be misleading and PMs should never take for granted…the word Actively. In my experience, some of the most influential stakeholders are not active on the project at all. The reason I need to translate the project plan into a nice Gantt & pull together a Project Dashboard is for these exact stakeholders…the one’s that are not active. They need as much info crammed into a quick, concise, and thorough update because they are not active. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the value adds of the project manager but I don’t want you to think that if someone is not active that they are not a stakeholder. Check out this great 5 min Podcast from a tremendous Project Management Executive, Ricardo Viana Vargas “The Project Manager is not the Project Secretary” (I think you can even earn 1 PDU or so)
Many PMs are consultants and coming into projects with little knowledge of the organization, so this is a tremendous exercise for us and one that needs to be done and done early in your process…
- Understanding who the power players are early on will help you develop your approach out of the gate…they will know who the other key players are, the key issues, the political climate of the org, the requirements, etc. With this information you can then develop your ‘plan of attack’ so you aren’t wandering around the organization aimlessly.
- Engaging the key decision makers/influencers early helps you gain trust and buy-in. It lets them feel a part and responsible. If they feel they have contributed to the development of the approach and project, then they will have some vested interest to continue supporting. Also, by getting them involved early, they will also feel responsible for the success of the initiative…no one wants a failure tied to their name.
There are some wonderful resources in this space, so I won’t reinvent the wheel on this (check out the links below), but I do want to mention a few things to keep in mind…
- Do perform a stakeholder analysis…do it early and don’t just wing-it.
- Interview the key stakeholders…sponsor, dept heads, organization experts (influencers)
- Know what their role in the org is…what their interest in the project is…how they prefer to receive information/update, etc
- Interview the team and any other ancillary players
- Same as above, but this level will more likely be those on your team. So know about their personal pushes and pulls, how they like to work, their thoughts on project management approaches in the past, etc.
- Rank Them – There a lot of ways to rank your stakeholders, most leverage a quad chart/grid or sorts. The following are 2 types:
- Power-Interest Chart – Groups stakeholders by their level or power/authority and their interest in the project (right)
- Power-Influence Chart – Groups stakeholders by their level of power/authority and their involvement level with the project
- Develop a plan to manage them – With this information in hand, you now know how to keep them happy (smiles). I know it isn’t that easy, but you have the insight into what their interests and concerns are with the project. You know how they prefer to receive the updates of the project and who needs that extra attention. Lastly, you also know how to optimize your filter for the project noise that is impending.
Stakeholders can make the project run smooth or break the project all together. It is your job to figure them out and get their buy-in, as well as maintain it throughout the courseof your project.
- Video Session “Each of These Stakeholders Is Not Like The Other” Managing the Stakeholder Spectrum
- Project Management Screw-Up – We Didn’t Involve The Right People, a post at at the PM Hut
- Stakeholder Adventure Maps. Drawing Smileys and Walls. A Blog by Bas De Baar
- The 5 Ps of Managing a Stubborn Stakeholder. A blog by Geoff Crane
- Your Heard Me But Are You Listening? A video by Simon Sinek via The Critical Path
- Video of Stakeholder Tool
- Basic Stakeholder Template by yours truly (Several other templates there as well)