Dealing effectively with the stakeholders within and outside your core project team is crucial to the success of your project. Stakeholders include client representatives, sponsor(s), champion, business and technology subject matter experts, project team members, suppliers, service providers and agents. In the course of the project life cycle, you will deal with various stakeholders using written or formal contracts and, sometimes, informal agreements.
Your communication, contract/procurement management, negotiation and influencing skills will serve you well here. Particularly when you deal with suppliers, you need to have good grasp of the suppliers’ contractual obligations and ensure that they are respected and followed. Whatever you do, do it professionally and legally. Avoid conflict of interest or principal-agent problem, which could compromise your good judgement or lead to a biased judgement.
Either separately or as part of the communication management plan, maintain a human resource availability chart and contact information for the project stakeholders. This will enable you to know who is available when and possible backup person to ensure continuity of planned activities and accommodate their absences in your project schedule.
In addition to maintaining up-to-date stakeholders’ contact and roles information, it is useful to maintain stakeholders’ influence assessment, represented by a power-influence matrix. Table 5 shows the stakeholders’ power-influence matrix. Keep this confidential to yourself. You do not want to let stakeholders know your perception of their power and influence, which could vary depending on the aspect of the project management activities under consideration.
The power-influence matrix could be created and customized per project, per process group, per work package or per deliverable, to make it specific and effective. Understanding the influence and impact of the stakeholders on the project enables you to anticipate and prepare to manage challenges and ensure successful desired outcome.
Take note of the following in managing the project stakeholders:
- The importance of timely engagement of stakeholders cannot be understated, as it goes a long way to obtaining valuable support and commitment of others. Avoid after-thought involvement of the key stakeholders; though better be late than never could be your last rule of engagement.
- Be self-aware and pay attention to projects and other activities, which your project depends upon to be successful. However, mind your business and avoid being engrossed or distracted by events or activities that are not related to your project.
- You may interact with overzealous stakeholders whose actions, like trying to play the project manager’s role, may affect project team dynamics and outcome. You need to continuously educate your stakeholders about the need to work in harmony for the good of the project. This may seem obvious, but it pays to discuss and re-emphasise the need for cooperation and its implications for the project. You are the captain of the ship and accountable for safe sailing. Even if the President is in the ship or on board, he/she can make demands (needs, change request etc.), but he/she should not tell you how to sail the ship, to ensure safe voyage. If you are not in control of the ship, you cannot make excuse for failing to remain a competent captain in turbulent waters. Therefore, stay focussed and sail safely as a bold, courageous and competent captain.
| Stakeholders Power-Influence Matrix
L………………………………..………………………..Influence à………………………………………….….…..……………….HNote:The information above are samples only, and the names used are fictitious (not real). This could be created or customized per phase, per work package, per deliverable etc.
1. High-Power / High-Influence (highest impact, requires most attention)
2. High- Power / Low- Influence
3. High- Power / Low- Influence
4. Low- Power / Low- Influence (least impact)
Keep this confidential to yourself. You do not want to let a stakeholders know your perception of their power and influence (which could vary depend on the aspect of the project management activities under considerations).