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Date Created: 12/22/15
Stakeholders in project management Project management is a vital field in running today’s world, and that means that project teams have to interact and coordinate with numerous different entities throughout their path to completing their projects. This required interaction with other entities of various natured necessitated a deeper study of the issue and the creation of many concepts and tools to understand the required outcomes of this process and regulate its outcomes. As part of your PMP exam prep, you should be fully aware of the concept of stakeholders and how it affects your actions as project manager. The PMP certification is by far the most prestigious and well rounded project management certification in the professional community, and such a credential is only given for project managers with a strong foundation of knowledge on such crucial areas within project management. As a project manager, part of your job is to communicate with and coordinate between all the different entities related to your project to identify the effect of their existence of the job ahead of you. You should be able to identify said entities and figure out their relevance to what is expected from your project team. All the entities related in one way or another to the constraints, progress and outcomes of your project are grouped under the term stakeholders. What defines a stakeholder? A stakeholder can be an entity of any type or scale that would affect or be affected by the project’s progress or outcomes in a direct or indirect way. As a project manager in charge of a project, no matter its scale, you must be able to identify the stakeholders of your project and analyze their involvement from conception to delivery. Identifying your stakeholders is a key step in being able to manage your project successfully! Identifying your stakeholders Knowing the straightforward definition of who is considered a stakeholder can lead you to believe that it is a simple and effortless process, but if you have any practical experience you know how challenging this can be. Identifying your stakeholders is essential to your success because their needs and requirements effectively alter your scope and the way the project progresses. Failing to consider your stakeholders throughout any stage of your project is simply an invitation for trouble! Stakeholders can be clear to identify such as the company you are building a warehouse for, but they can also be as inconspicuous as the airport somewhere near the land parcel where you are to build that warehouse. Both entities are viable stakeholders in the project of building said warehouse bit with very different relationships. A stakeholder can be ANY entity that will be affected in any way by your project, and that will usually include many more than you realize at first! In general, typical stakeholders of most projects include the client commissioning the work, management above the project manager or the financial provider for the project. A prominent stakeholder of any project is the project team itself, as its members commit time and effort into making it succeed. This gives the project team a sense of ownership towards the project, thus making them stakeholders. Some projects have an impact on the public, and so consider the public as a prominent stakeholder. Examples of projects with the public as a stakeholder include roads, telecommunications, irrigation systems, sewage treatment plants and bridges. Projects with public interest present an added challenge to the project manager because of the need to properly research and care for the greater benefit of the public. Understanding your stakeholders Understanding the involvement of your stakeholders is the next step after identifying them. The better you understand the needs and expectations of each stakeholder, the more satisfaction you will create with your project and consequently more success. Putting enough effort in this step safeguards you from a lot of miscommunication and misalignment between reality and expectations, all of which are reasons to doom your project. In the project management community, stakeholders are usually grouped into internal and external stakeholders for ease of understanding of their various needs. Internal stakeholders These are stakeholders inside the company carrying out the project. There are many entities inside the company that can be considered stakeholders in a project such as senior management, the project team, a program or portfolio manager or a certain functional department or business unit. External stakeholders These are stakeholders from outside the company carrying out the project. Examples of typical external stakeholders are another company, an individual customer or group of customers, the public, the government or even the media. Managing your stakeholders Stakeholder management is the key to avoid miscommunication and frustration within your project. Managing your stakeholders involves identifying them at the very beginning of the project and building a comprehensive stakeholder register that contains all their relevant information. A stakeholder register is a powerful tool to summarize the relationship and degree of influence of each stakeholder and their expectations on your project operations. A well prepared stakeholder register is the first step in creating effective stakeholder management strategies. It is important to build on your initial work of identifying your stakeholders and their relationship with your project by incorporating this information into your stakeholder management strategy, which will ensure that you satisfy all your stakeholders and keep up with them throughout the project. Failing to identify and care for your stakeholders Different stakeholders have different relationships to your project; each stake holder has a certain level of involvement in the project, a certain level of interest in its outcomes and certain expectations whose failure to be met will negatively affect your project’s success. Still, it is important that you know them all and figure out their contribution in your project and its effect on them. If you do fail to identify your stakeholders and incorporate their needs and expectations into your scope, you will be working with little real guidance and will experience many problems along the way and especially at the end of your project. Working without your stakeholders will strain your budget, stress your team and delay your entire project. What good is a project if it does not satisfy its stakeholders?!
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