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Project Management

Project Managers’ Stakeholder Responsibilities

When we think about a project management team leader, we tend to focus on his or her activities with the project team. However, the team leader’s responsibilities extend beyond the project team to all of the project stakeholders.

Watch the following video to learn more about project stakeholders.

Handling Project Stakeholders

For a project to be successful, the project manager must handle project stakeholders with as much care and attention as the project team. When dealing with stakeholders, the project manager’s responsibilities can be categorized into three tasks: identifying, managing, and engaging.

Identifying Stakeholders

One of the project manager’s first tasks is to identify all of the stakeholders associated with the project. This can be difficult to accomplish, but it is crucially important. Failure to identify a key stakeholder can cause major problems for a project. For example, if a stakeholder is overlooked and then surfaces later in the project, the person or group may challenge past decisions and/or impose additional, unanticipated work.

Stakeholders may represent a positive or negative influence. Positive stakeholders benefit from a successful outcome from the project, and their interests are best served by helping the project to succeed. In contrast, negative stakeholders are those who anticipate negative outcomes from the project’s success. These people or groups may try to impede the project’s progress. When the project manager overlooks the potential for disruption from negative stakeholders, they put the overall success of the project at risk.

Key Stakeholders

Who are the key stakeholders in a project? Click on each section in the graphic below to learn more about that stakeholder.

Identifying-Stakeholders

Influencers: People or groups that are not directly related to the use of the project’s product but can influence the course of the project.

Project Team Members: The group that is performing the project work.

Project Manager: The project manager is responsible for managing the project and leading the project management team.

Project Management Team: The members of the project team who are involved in project management activities.

Project Sponsor: The person or group that provides the project’s financial resources.

Customer or User: The person or group that will use the project’s product. There may be many different customers for a single product.

Performing Organization: The enterprise whose employees are most directly involved in doing the work of the project.

Managing Stakeholder Expectations

Although stakeholders may have different or conflicting objectives, the project manager must manage their expectations, by analyzing their interests, needs, and potential impact on the project and working to address those factors appropriately. In addition, stakeholders will have differing communication demands, so the project’s communications management plan should include the different methods of communication that will be employed to satisfy stakeholders.

Different stakeholders may have different standards for measuring the success of a project. Face-to-face meetings are generally the most effective way to identify stakeholder expectations and resolve any issues. An expectations management matrix can also help to illuminate team expectations. Here is an example of such a matrix:

Measure of SuccessPriorityExpectationsGuidelines
Scope2The scope statement outlines the “must have” and “nice to have” requirements.If the scope of the project must be reduced, the “nice to have” requirements should be eliminated first.
Time3There is flexibility in the delivery date.Although there is some “give” in the schedule, the project manager must still be alerted to problems that may impact the schedule.
Cost1The project must come in on budget. No additional funds can be devoted to the project.Key stakeholders will accept the scaling back of the project scope or schedule in order to stay within budget.
Quality4Quality is important and processes exist for Quality Assurance (QA).Employees must participate in quality training before they can be added to the team.

Engaging Stakeholders

Effective project managers should also consider how they can leverage the skills, knowledge, and expertise of stakeholders to enhance project activities and benefit project results.

A thoughtfully executed stakeholder management strategy can be developed to engage appropriate stakeholders at correct times throughout the project, which will help to maximize positive impacts and minimize negative outcomes. Effective stakeholder engagement can increase project success tremendously, while ineffective engagement can complicate, delay, or even completely derail a project.

A suitable engagement strategy that capitalizes on the insight and mastery of stakeholders should be created and employed to benefit the project in the best possible manner. Stakeholder engagement activities should be constantly monitored and nurtured to help the project continue to meet its objectives to the satisfaction of all involved, and to prevent surprises for stakeholders before, during, and after project execution.

Recommended for you What Is a Team? , The Tuckman Model , Leading a High-Performing Team

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