John has been failing to exploit and enhance the benefits of stakeholder management. Why? He's not convinced of the benefits. Allow me to pull back the veil and share nine benefits of stakeholder management.
If you are a Project Management Professional (PMP), you’ve likely studied Chapter 13 of the Project Management Body of Knowledge – Stakeholder Management. PMPs know about identifying and assessing stakeholders. You’ve learned how to develop a stakeholder management plan.
You understand the concepts. You have the knowledge. But are actually engaging your stakeholders?
Let’s look at nine benefits of actually working with your stakeholders.
Stakeholder Management Benefits
- Fewer surprises. How many times have you been caught off guard by a stakeholder? A powerful individual, out of the blue, entered your project world and exerted his or her influence in ways that caused rework and additional cost, adversely affecting team morale.
- More valuable engagement. Janet, a project manager in a health insurance company, has never developed a stakeholder management plan. Consequently, she has not adequately engaged key stakeholders. On the other hand, Ginger, a project manager in the same company, has regularly worked with her project teams to determine when, how, and where the team would engage the stakeholders. Guess who was recently promoted.
- Better understanding of needs. Projects are temporary endeavors resulting in a unique product, service, or result. Unique means we’re creating something new or modifying existing products and services. Certain individuals, teams, and organizations will be impacted. Each of these stakeholders has needs. The best project managers identify and seek to understand those needs early in the project.
- Better understanding of concerns. Stakeholders also have concerns. Ask them and they will tell you about potential events or conditions that may hinder your progress. Other stakeholders can explain how the project may impact their roles and responsibilities.
- Time invested in the right places. You may be a hard-working project manager, working late evenings and weekends. The question is: Are you working on the right things? With the stakeholder’s input and regular feedback, you can ensure that you are working on things that have the greatest value to the project.
- Happier stakeholders. Any chance that you’ll make all the stakeholders happy? Probably not. However, you will have a much better chance of keeping stakeholders happy and satisfied if they are properly involved in your projects. Less stress for your stakeholders translates into less stress for you as the project manager.
- Improved communication. Stakeholder management includes the identification of your stakeholders and seeking to understand their preferences. Armed with this stakeholder information, project managers can develop a better communications plan.
- Better management of expectations. Individuals, groups, or organizations believe that certain things are going to happen in the future, based on gossip, hearsay, and a few facts. The winning project managers seek to understand and to shape the stakeholder’s expectations, guarding against costly false expectations.
- Improved reputation. Project managers with stellar reputations relate well to people in their projects. Want to advance in your career? Focus on improving your stakeholder management skills.
"Find the appropriate balance of competing claims by various groups of stakeholders. All claims deserve consideration but some claims are more important than others." Warren Bennis
Still Not Sure?
You may be thinking—that's great Harry—but I don't need a formal methodology to manage people. I'm not saying that you need to make this more complex than it needs to be.
Hence, take time to think about your past projects. What were the primary problems? What caused you to miss your deadlines? What risks turned into issues resulting in extra work and cost?
Likely, your biggest issues were related to poor stakeholder engagement. What are the lessons learned? What can you change going forward in the identification, evaluation, planning, and review of stakeholders?
It's one thing to understand these benefits. It's another thing to actually take action. Identify one of your projects and identify, assess, and engage your stakeholders. Your best days are ahead!