Project Management

4 Steps to Managing Stakeholders over Time

When we discuss “managing” stakeholders, it makes it sound like they are a bunch of loud schoolchildren getting gum stuck in each other’s hair. This thankfully is not true, but stakeholders can be so numerous and so busy that the result feeling might be the same. In a guest post for A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, Isidora Roskic shares four steps to keep up with the various stakeholders in your project’s life:

  1. Identify your stakeholders.
  2. Determine a stakeholder’s influence.
  3. Develop a communication management plan.
  4. Engage with your stakeholders.

Roll Call

Depending on the complexity of the project, its stakeholders could be myriad, perhaps even existing outside of the business. Make a master list of potential stakeholders, thinking about people like senior and functional managers, suppliers and sponsors, and product users. Next, you have to determine how much influence each of these stakeholders carries. This can be tricky, because some stakeholders might be indifferent to your project yet have great control over it, while others may have little real power over it but are still eager to be involved. Both types will require continuous communications from you, keeping them in the loop.

Prioritize which stakeholders will have the greatest impact on the project, but be prepared to revise this arrangement over time. After all, stakeholders’ roles can change, along with their influence. The whole team will have to work together in keeping such information straight. Likewise, they can also assist in creating a plan for communication with stakeholders. Roskic adds this:

Stakeholders can also provide you with lots of insightful information about the project. Show that you are empathic and interested in their perspectives or ideas. This will make it easier later on when trying to compromise with various stakeholders who may have different priorities or opinions on how the project should be done.

However, it’s important that you still maintain governance over the progress of the project. Trying to satisfy and meet the needs of all your stakeholders is extremely difficult and in some cases you won’t be able to please everyone.

Then you simply have to engage with the stakeholders over the life of the project. For minor, largely uninvolved stakeholders, the occasional email update will suffice. But for major stakeholders, regular status meetings, reports, and access to change logs will be necessary to keep them sufficiently informed.

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