Download the authoritative guide: Cloud Computing 2018: Using the Cloud to Transform Your BusinessThe task of managing project stakeholders can, ironically, turn out to be a project in itself a large, multi-fanged, multi-headed beast that can prove uncontrollable. To find out how best to keep the beast at bay, I sought the advice of three experienced project managers.
Heres what they had to say:
1. Identify all the stakeholders at the beginning of the project. You need to do this or face the problem of more stakeholders with disruptive agendas joining after the project starts, said Ryan Endres, lead project manager, Project Management Office, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin Madison.
2. Ensure all the stakeholders agree on the projects deliverables and what their roles are. You need to have complete agreement on the narrative of the project, the deliverables, and what peoples roles are, said Glen Alleman, vice president, Strategic Consulting and Performance Management at Lewis & Fowler, a project management and consulting firm in Niwot, CO. Before the project begins, its very important to establish rules of engagement that define peoples functions, and whether they are leaders or followers. You dont want followers clamoring to be leaders half-way through a project.
3. Get consensus on how to handle changes to the project. The more complex the project, the more changes you will have, said Alleman. It is vital to the success of a project that all stakeholders agree on how to handle changes.
4. Practice good communication. Again, this is something that needs to be defined at the start of the project. The project team must determine the frequency of communication and what it will include, said Endres. Typically, communication should be concise and focus on progress and value, he said. Communication should be meaningful to all stakeholders.
5. Keep the project vision visible. Keeping the project vision accessible allows everyone to stay focused on what's important, said Endres. This helps reduce the chance of scope creep.
6. Engage stakeholders throughout the process. Experts emphasize that is important to engage stakeholders in problem-solving, reviewing new requirements, and creating lists of lessons-learned.
7. Agree on what "done" is. Stakeholders need to agree what done looks like, notes Endres. If they dont, the project may easily get off track.
8. Finally, dont forget to empathize with other stakeholders. Your ability to put yourself in anothers shoes can be crucial to the success or failure of a project, notes Josh Nankivel, president, pmstudent.com, Sioux Falls, SD. Dont limit your analysis of the project to peoples interest and influence, he said. Identify what their goals are, what context they bring with them, and relate to how they perceive the project will impact them.
Nankivel said an empathic analysis helps uncover hidden variables that can help a PM to decide how to deal with issues. "For example, you may find it is more useful to spend time building trust with a low interest/low influence stakeholder than a high interest/high influence stakeholder if the latter is highly inclined to support your project.