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Project Best Practice: Stakeholder Management
By Linky Van Der Merwe

Are you actively managing project stakeholders?

Stakeholder management is as vital to a successful project outcome as is communications management. This article will focus on best practices relating to managing stakeholders on projects.

For complete clarity on stakeholder management, let’s approach at it from the angle of:

  • What a stakeholder is
  • Who stakeholders are
  • Why you must do stakeholder management
  • When to communicate

Stakeholder definition

What is a stakeholder? Stakeholders are people who are actively involved in projects, who exert influence on projects and whose interests may be positively/negatively affected by projects. Source: Project Management Body of Knowledge

Who are stakeholders?

The key stakeholders are the project manager, project team members, the project sponsor, the customer and the performing organization. Other stakeholders could include:

  • Internal and external owners and funders
  • Sellers and contractors
  • Team members & their families
  • Government agencies and media outlets
  • Society at large

Why do stakeholder management?

Normally a project manager needs to identify project stakeholders in order to determine their requirements and to manage and influence the requirements. Identify stakeholders during initiation phase of Project life cycle.

You need to actively manage the stakeholder’s requirements and expectations throughout. Influencing the organisation involves the ability to ‘get things done’. This requires from a project manager an understanding of both formal and informal structure of the organisation involved, for example the customers, partners, contractors, office politics etc.

One golden rule to remember is when there is a difference between stakeholders,it should be resolved in favour of the customer. Finding appropriate resolutions to such differences can be a major challenge of project management.

The reason why you need to do stakeholder management is to drive stakeholder satisfaction. This requires reliable, dependable, repeatable effort from your side. You need to know the needs and expectations of stakeholders and invest in those needs. A frequent investment (weekly, even daily) in the needs of the stakeholders helps projects to be successful.

When to communicate with stakeholders?

You will need to communicate with your project stakeholders a number of times as documented in your communications plan:

  • Beginning of a project
  • Weekly at progress meetings
  • Regular Reviews and reporting
  • At the end of a project

In summary, a project manager will need to manage and influence stakeholder requirements in order to ensure a successful project. I trust that you can see the value of proper stakeholder management and why best practices are essential to project success.

And now I would like to invite you to view more project management articles giving you best practices and project tools to use to manage your own projects successfully. Useful for aspiring and existing project managers.

Linky Van Der Merwe is the founder of Virtual Project Consulting and a Project Management Consultant. Linky invites you to view more project management articles giving you best practices and project tools to use for managing your own projects successfully at http://www.virtualprojectconsulting.com/topics/projectmanagement/.

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