According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the term project stakeholder refers to, “an individual, group, or organization, who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project”
Stakeholder management is the systematic identification, analysis, planning and implementation of actions designed to engage with stakeholders. Stakeholders are individuals or groups with an interest in the project, programme or portfolio because they are involved in the work or affected by the outcome. Stakeholder on project can be your Customer, End user, Consultants, Architects, Vendors, Sub-contractors, Unions, Project manager, Project Management Team, Local Communities, Statutory Bodies, Media etc.
Stakeholder management is key to success of the project. Project Manager must engage Stakeholders to the required level to avoid adverse impact on a project outcome. Project Management Body of Knowledge has identified “Stakeholder Management” as key knowledge area . There are 4 important process in it and they are
- Identify Stakeholder
- Plan Stakeholder Engagement
- Manage Stakeholder Engagement
- Monitor Stakeholder Engagement.
Key is to identify the right stakeholders early on the project. It lays the foundation for the project success. Identifying the individuals, their roles, their interest and power in the project can give Project Manager an idea to plan strategies to deal with them.
While planning strategies Project Manager must be able to identify and group the stakeholder based on their power vs interest grid which is explained below.
The above grid will give the strategies to be planned. It is also important to monitor stakeholder as during the course of project life cycle stakeholder can cross over to another grid. To give a simple example of NANO Project in West Bengal. The Farmers who were protesting there were having “ High Interest but Low Power”. Moment they got the political power behind them they became” High Interest and High Power” stakeholders.
Stakeholder’s interference is part of projects. Their behavior and time of involvement is unpredictable. Professionalism mut be a guide to decide which ball to drop and when.
Some of the key skills Project Manage must have to engage stakeholders are
- Open Communication- Listen More , talk less
- Sniffing out information and sensing trouble
- External Interactions
- Negotiation Skills
One of the most important message is that “ Never burn the bridges You never know when you will have to return on same route again”