The PMBOK® Guide, Seventh Edition contains eight performance domains including the Stakeholder Performance Domain. In this article, we will explore this domain, why it's critical to projects, how to engage stakeholders, and some common stakeholder risks.
What is the Stakeholder Performance Domain?
This domain "addresses activities and functions associated with stakeholders" (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, PMBOK® Guide, Page 8).
What kinds of activities? Identifying, analyzing, prioritizing, engaging, and monitoring stakeholders.
Stakeholder. An individual, group, or organization that may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project, program, or portfolio. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide), Page 8
When engaging stakeholders, project managers may use Push and Pull communication methods. All of the following are Push communication methods except:
B. Status reports
C. Internet searches
D. Voice mail
C. Internet searches is an example of Pull communication.
How to Engage Stakeholders
1. Identify Stakeholders
When should you start? Early in your projects. I usually ask the project sponsor, product owner, and key executives to help me identify stakeholders. Additionally, I create the initial stakeholder register. And because stakeholders come and go, be sure to identify stakeholders throughout your projects.
2. Analyze Stakeholders
Not all stakeholders are the same. Therefore, we need methods for distinguishing one from another. For instance, I rate stakeholders for:
- Power (High/Low)
- Interest (High/Low)
- Current engagement levels (unaware, resistant, neutral, supportive, or leading)
- Desired engagement level (unaware, resistant, neutral, supportive, or leading)
Moreover in my stakeholder interviews, I ask about their concerns and interest in the project.
3. Prioritize Stakeholders
Once we have analyzed the stakeholders, we can select the stakeholders with the most power and interest. Why do we do this? Because we should not treat all stakeholders the same. That is to say, invest more time with high power / high interest stakeholders than others.
4. Engage Stakeholders
Now, we know which people to engage. What are the aims of the engagement? The aims include but are not limited to:
- Better communication
- Managing conflicts
- Solving problems
- Eliciting input and feedback
- Understanding and managing expectations
- Minimizing surprises
- Obtaining support
- Minimizing adverse impacts of resistant stakeholders
5. Monitor Stakeholders
Your stakeholders will change over time. Some will become less engaged; others more engaged. In addition, new stakeholders will arise. Feelings will change. Periodically, update your stakeholder register. When? Here are some examples:
- Before requirements are elicited
- When milestones are reached
- When sprints are completed
- Before product reviews
- Before stage gates
Common Stakeholder Risks
Numerous stakeholder risks may arise during a project. Here are some examples:
- Key executives are not involved in the development of the project charter and have no input into the objectives. When these stakeholders discover the project, they may use their power to influence the project.
- Stakeholders are not engaged in the requirements process which may lead to more costly requirement changes later in the project.
- Some stakeholders are resistant to the project and may undermine the efforts of the project team.
- There is a lack of clarity between the organization and the vendor delivering the product and services (e.g., contract), leading to misunderstandings. Moreover, significant change control events may occur later.
- Failure to enlist stakeholders to identify project opportunities which may result in lower productivity.