Managing the Stakeholders - Smoothening The Hurdles
Stakeholder management is not a one-time activity but a continuous process that should be undertaken throughout the project duration. It is responsibility of the project managers to keep in touch with the stakeholders and keep a tab on their attitudes. It is important to keep a close eye on people as their opinions will swing between positive and negative over the life of a project. Managers should conduct regular touch points with stakeholders and take their views on the project progress. Key to stakeholder management is to try to gain their trust by keeping them updated with the project progress and take their views into consideration.
One of the key stakeholders for any project is those who are at helm of affairs whose involvement is critical for project success. Whether they are your parents who would provide the go-ahead for the trip or your boss who will provide the driving force for a client engagement – their buy in and support is foundation to project implementation. Project management is unlikely to succeed unless there is any visible support and commitment by executive management. When employees and the project team see the interest, support and commitment of the organization’s senior management, they will have a sharper focus. This support and commitment can be described in two subtopics; project sponsorship and life-cycle management. The role of the sponsor is to manage interference that exist for the project manager besides continuously remind project team that only performance at the highest standards of excellence are acceptable. It is important that company goals, objectives and values be well understood by all members of the project team throughout the life-cycle of the project. Ongoing and positive executive involvement, in a leadership capacity will reflect executive management’s commitment to project management.
A set of important stakeholders often ignored during project planning are the vendors and service providers. The project manager and the procurement department are responsible for managing relationships with vendors. They should ensure timely delivery and high quality of products and communicate with vendors by arranging weekly meetings with each vendor, in order to discuss current progress of each ordered product. This is core of the vendor management. Vendor management is a set of activities that allow ensuring that the chosen vendors provide the procurement items according to the delivery schedule and that appropriate levels of quality are maintained.
Managing stakeholders effectively would help remove the hurdles in project implementation which could otherwise become a threat to the success. Project managers need to understand the importance of this aspect and incorporate it into their planning to ensure that such irritants are smoothed at the project onset itself. I have seen in my projects that if all those who could have any stake in it are involved early on, they are more willing to contribute during the execution and help in solving an unanticipated problem which may come up at later stages.
Hope my experiences help some of the project manager in their engagements. Do pour in if you have experiences supporting or contradicting the views on the article. Drop in a word if you would like to discuss these further in detail.