Stakeholder Management Essentials

January 4, 2016

Written by: Scott McGrail

Every project requires that there be a high level of understanding present regarding stakeholders. Seems simple enough; who sponsored the project? Who is on the project team? True enough, but are there other people in the organization undergoing the change that are impacted or at least perceive that they are impacted by the undertaking? All individuals should be taken into consideration and evaluated. This process is initiated with stakeholder identification, where a breakdown of the stakeholders is assembled and further information gathering is completed. This should be done as early as possible in the project so that scoping can be effective and accurate.

Once the stakeholders have been identified, they should be evaluated so the Project Manager can best understand their stake in the project, as well as their influence, commitment, and support (or lack thereof). Stakeholders do not necessarily have to be advocates of the undertaking, but do need to be properly managed in order to prevent derailment. The requirements of the stakeholders should be collected and compared, in order to manage the needs and assess areas of collaboration or compromise.

Once all stakeholders have been assessed, a plan as to how they will be managed and their engagement maintained should be built out. This would include aspects such as communication – frequency and type, as well as level of monitoring. Highly invested and influential stakeholders will need far more attention than a mildly involved, non-influential individual.

The process of evaluating and monitoring the project stakeholders is an ongoing effort that should not stop until the project is closed. A given stakeholder’s influence may shift during an implementation and would therefore warrant a change in the approach by the project manager.

Depending on the nature of your project, input from your stakeholders will be essential to the project’s success. Has the project team listened to the stakeholder requirements? Is the proposed endeavor set to meet those requirements, or is it a perceived solution that is being imposed? It is important to truly understand what the goals of the project are and what is truly needed to meet those goals. The main sponsor may not have a complete understanding of this, and it is therefore paramount to understand who is truly impacted by the venture and what they actually need. That being said, there are also projects that are top down in nature, where the needs of the sponsor might not blend with what the end users want. These underlying business needs should be evaluated and truly understood during the identification and assessment phases. The stakeholders can then be evaluated and their input weighted.

Some key questions that you should ask are:

  • Have I identified all of my stakeholders?
  • Have I evaluated their level of impact?
  • Who are the advocates? Opponents?
  • Has the management of the stakeholders been planned out?
  • Has the engagement of the stakeholders been planned out?

With a bit of planning, including some requirements gathering and subsequent monitoring, you will be able to extract the needs of your stakeholders while maintaining their dedication, and hopefully their support, in the ongoing project.

HRchitect is a leading provider of Human Capital Management (HCM) Technology consulting. We can assist in all aspects of your HCM technology needs including strategy (roadmap), evaluation and selection, change management, implementation and more to help ensure a successful project with proven communications and adoption.

Scott McGrail

About Scott McGrail

Scott McGrail is an experienced software implementation project manager with strengths in process assessment and change management. When not mapping processes or tracking progress on a Gant chart, he can be found enjoying the outdoors with his family.