I was talking with a project manager who was complaining about the interference from stakeholders. He suggested that the stakeholders were getting in the way of managing the project!
After brief questioning he soon realised that it was his management of them that was the problem:
- he had not fully identified who the stakeholders were. If he had, he would have known that there was one key person in the organisation who he must contact and discuss the project. He did not and the stakeholder contacted him very angry he had not been informed of the decision to go ahead with the project. Not a good start for the project as it meant a series of meetings to deal with the issue
- he kept a list of key people in his head (fairly common according to those who come on our project management training events) and failed to review this list to check where each stakeholder or group were. He did say writing them down onto a template I gave him “would be really useful”
- he had no communication plan to include any of the stakeholders. He simply expected the communications to happen but without a plan, how?
- he had not realised the importance of one department; finance. They needed to approve the overall budget spend and be involved with the initial calculations before the business case could be submitted for approval. He failed to involves them and the business case should have been approved some 4 weeks before it was and this put an in-built delay into the project and he was always playing catch up
Effective management of stakeholders is essential for project management success. According to Standish who published the well documents Chaos Report, user involvement contributed 19% to project success (the other two in the top 3 are executive management support 16% and a clear statement of requirements 15%) – click here for the full report
So the next time stakeholders get in the way, think about how you are managing them.