• Chris Gevaux

Stakeholder Management Techniques for Project Managers: Improving Your Project Management Skills



Stakeholder management is organising, monitoring, and improving relationships with your stakeholders. Planning, effective communication and leadership are just a few essential project management skills that you need to make your next project easier for everyone involved. Keeping all stakeholders informed throughout the project should lead to higher satisfaction with the end result. A stakeholder management plan will serve as a guide for communications and stakeholder engagement throughout the life of the project and should be updated as communication needs change.

Introducing stakeholder management

Stakeholder management practices are emerging around the world. In the UK, many leading companies are now implementing stakeholder management into their project management tool kits. With the emergence of Agile project management, stakeholder management has been evolving even further to become a core strategy for any project management team that wishes to improve communication and reduce project stress. Agile is all about breaking down the boundaries between different teams and introducing an environment of collaboration and transparency to get the most out of your project.

Why is stakeholder management important?

To summarize, there are two main reasons why stakeholder management should be part of your project management framework: 1. Without all stakeholders on board and contributing to your product, your project will not be as valuable as it could be. The power of the product is increased when stakeholders are confident about the value that their involvement brings to your project. Stakeholders can't be wrong and nobody wins in a low-value project. 2. Stakeholders may have diverse opinions, but once they've been presented with the choice of having a tangible or intangible reward for their contribution, they are more likely to join your team.


What is a stakeholder management plan?

A stakeholder management plan helps project managers work in concert with their stakeholders, adjusting and tweaking strategies and tactics according to changing circumstances. For example, as your project approaches the milestone for completion, you may wish to update your project plan to ensure that critical parts of the project have not been overlooked or that final requirements have not been over-estimated. A stakeholder management plan can help you update your plan as required and set realistic goals for the project. It also can serve as a framework for working with stakeholders to improve communication and implement change.

Ten key points to remember when managing stakeholders

Make your stakeholders aware of the status of the project. They should always know when and how changes will be made. Listen to your stakeholders to determine how to keep them informed. If you don’t, you may spend the whole project listening to their complaints rather than managing your stakeholders. Never make assumptions. Make sure that you ask for their input before making any decisions. Take full ownership of the project and get involved from the beginning to the end. Make sure that your stakeholders see you as the one in charge. Communicate with your stakeholders. If you find that your stakeholder understands what you are planning, share the plan with them. Don’t just try to explain the project to them.

The problem

Now that you know how valuable stakeholder management is, why don’t you use the next 30 minutes to give it a try? The following techniques can be used anywhere, any time. Use them at a team meeting, during a meeting with your customer or your boss, during your next update meeting with your client. Simply replace them with a mutual business purpose, if possible, and watch your progress with less hassle and less stress. Build a Foundation of Credible Relationships Before you even start, start building a relationship with your stakeholders. Let them know that you are going to be there for them, no matter what, and that they can trust you. Building credibility with your stakeholders will take time, but the good news is that the early stage is much easier than it is later.

The opportunity

An advantage for internal users of a project management solution is that it can be implemented quickly and easily. This is important for small and mid-sized businesses with a fast-paced and changing work environment. However, traditional project management tools often require considerable training in order to be effective, and projects such as this one require project managers to do more than simply manage existing information or records. The challenge However, projects such as these typically do not benefit from the latest and greatest project management technology. It is often necessary to purchase, install, configure, and learn the new technology before it can be effectively used by the majority of project managers in the organization.

Your solution

Each organization is different and has unique problems. Some may have detailed understanding of the customer, but are unfamiliar with their industry. Other customers may have existing relationships with their organization that you can leverage, while still other customers may require a completely different solution from what you are currently providing. Having a written process and clear expectations will help you to fulfill your customer’s needs while still making progress towards a viable solution. Stakeholder management in projects does not mean you have to talk with everyone. Establishing a method and metrics will help you to determine who needs to be involved in the project and who is on a list of potential solution suppliers.

Conclusion

Stakeholder management is essential to the success of almost any project. Planning to meet all your stakeholders is the first step to doing just that. Know your stakeholders, prepare a stakeholder management plan and stay on top of changing needs and expectations.


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