Managing project stakeholders effectively: 5 key areas to focus on
Project stakeholders are people who either care about or have a vested interest in your project. They are the people who are actively involved with the work of the project (project team) or have something to either gain or lose as a result of the project. So how can I manage project stakeholders effectively we hear you ask? To make it easy for you, we’ve compiled our top 5 areas for you to read through below.
1. Identifying project stakeholders
It’s important to identify all the project stakeholders upfront. The project sponsor, generally an executive in the organisation with the authority to assign resources and enforce decisions regarding the project, is a stakeholder. The customer, subcontractors and suppliers are stakeholders. The project manager, project team members, and the relevant managers from other departments in the organisation are all stakeholders too. As you can tell, there’s a lot of stakeholders in a project and some that you may not have even considered to be project stakeholders initially.
2. Why project stakeholder management is important for project managers
A project’s success is completely dependent on the people involved in the project. This means managing those people properly is a pretty important role for a project manager to play. Project stakeholders are important because, ultimately, they will be the people saying if they’re happy with the outcome of the project or not. If the project team and project manager are happy, but the project stakeholders aren’t, then your project can’t be seen as a success!
There will be various levels of project stakeholders, ranging from those that are merely interested in the outcome, to those that are reliant on the outcome. For example, if your project is to build a new financial system, the Finance Manager is reliant on the project outcome, but perhaps the CEO who will get reports from the new system is more an interested party, but a stakeholder none-the-less. Managing project stakeholders will also be dependent on the level of stakeholder, and also the personality of the actual stakeholder! Some people want more updates and more involvement than others. You will need to determine early on in your project who are the people that need to be involved a lot, and who are the others that only want information or updates occasionally – creating a Project Stakeholder Management Plan will help you with this!
3. How to manage project stakeholders
First, you need to create a Project Stakeholder Management Plan to help you keep on top of:
- Who your project stakeholders are
- What engagement they require (be part of meetings, just receive reports etc.)
- How frequently they need the above
The initial steps for project Stakeholder Management are very similar (the same really) as those for People Management of your project resources - get to know your stakeholders!
Stakeholders may be made up of people you see every day, some from other areas in your company that you don’t know or even some from other companies. You need to know and talk to all of them. Go and meet them all if they’re not in your kick-off meeting and introduce yourself, learn their requirements, and if possible, their personalities!
Learn who the project stakeholders are that want the project to succeed, and those that are against the project for whatever reason. It’s also worth learning who the stakeholders are that have the final say, or at least the biggest say. These stakeholders can be your biggest allies on a project if managed properly, or your biggest enemies!
4. Have an effective project stakeholder management checklist
Each project and stakeholder is different, but you need to get to know them all. Follow these practical tips to effectively manage project stakeholders.
- Be visible to your stakeholders. If they see that you are always there and involved in the project. This will help create a level of comfort that you have everything under control.
- Engage with your key stakeholders regularly (how regularly will vary from stakeholder to stakeholder). This doesn’t have to be a formal meeting every time, it can even be walking past their desk to greet them and give a quick verbal update or dropping them a Slack message.
- Involve your key project stakeholders when there are big issues, risks, or decisions required, come up with solutions first where possible and go to them and present your ideas. This keeps them involved and shows them that you can deal with issues that arise.
- Invite your stakeholders to team meetings where applicable (if there are decisions etc. to discuss).
- Invite your stakeholders to team building events or lunches etc. so they can get involved with the project team too.
5. Use PPM software to manage project stakeholders
One element of project stakeholder management is providing updates through reporting. As great as it is to provide reports to stakeholders, these reports are point-in-time i.e., the data is only reflective of when you created the report 2 days ago. These reports don’t show how much progress has been made since then. Useful, time-saving Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) software like Fluid provides real-time data, great for keeping your project stakeholders in the loop. With RAG statuses available for all projects, stakeholders are given transparency and easily digestible updates.
Reporting dashboards can easily be saved and used for future reporting too to save you time when updating stakeholders with Fluid. Simply upload your own company branded templates to export data ready to present! Contact to us today to let us help you manage your projects and stakeholders, effectively.