Stakeholder Management in Four Steps

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP

Stakeholder management began as an effort to identify your project’s stakeholders so you could gather their requirements. This let you avoid requirements that spring up late in a project. These late requirements cost many times what they would have cost early in the planning process. So time spent on stakeholder management has a positive payback.

The new focus in stakeholder management adds to that “requirements orientation” and provides tools for building and maintaining support from your stakeholders. It involves engaging them in the project management process itself. It also includes identifying their project expectations early and managing those expectations so they align with the project’s deliverables.  Stakeholder Main Page

Stakeholder Management in The Real World

If you manage projects in the “real world,” you know that strong stakeholder support for your project is critical in several areas.

First, broad support for your project helps you keep your project team together and avoids losing them to other projects. In reality, every project is competing with the organization’s entire project portfolio for resources.  Your team members will be reassigned to higher priority projects if you have poor stakeholder support and/or unmet stakeholder expectations.

Second, most projects involve implementing changes, whether it’s following new procedures, using new software, or installing new hardware. Those changes have to happen in operating/user departments and they always cause pain and take time. If you lose stakeholder support for your project, implementing those changes in the operating departments will fall behind schedule. They may even be ignored.  Your ability to deliver your project’s scope is negatively impacted if those changes are not implemented.

Third, engaging your stakeholders in the project management process yields significant benefits. As an example, when you involve stakeholders in your risk management process, they are more likely to support and participate in your risk responses. This also helps you gain support with operational areas that are lending you team members. Always keep in mind that you are competing with other projects for those resources. You’re also competing with their “real jobs” and any projects that are launched in their home departments. When you engage the operational area boss(es) from the start of your project, you have a better chance of those resources being available when you need them.stakeholder management

Stakeholder Management in Four Steps

For all these reasons, we recommend this four-step stakeholder management process.

First, during initiation you identify the people and organizational units who will be affected, positively or negatively, by the project. These stakeholders can come from outside the organization as well as the internal players. You’re identifying not only who they are but what interest they have in the project. This includes their “hot button” issues, their project requirements and their potential influence over the project.

Second, during the project planning phase you plan how you will manage your stakeholders. You identify what techniques you will use to meet the needs of each stakeholder and to keep them engaged in the process.

Third, during your execution of the project, you implement the stakeholder management plan. It includes the communication strategies you will use to engage the stakeholders in the project and build their ongoing support.

Fourth, as you execute and control the project, you’re also monitoring the stakeholders and identifying problems and issues.  New requirements or requirements that are not being met are examples of stakeholders’ problems and issues. You must respond to these to maintain their support.

Stakeholder Management Summary

This four-step process may take an hour on a small project or weeks on a large one, depending on the size of the stakeholder group. But it’s a proven fact that active stakeholder management builds a foundation for your project’s success.

You can learn how to successfully manage stakeholders in our online Project Management courses. You’ll work privately with Dick Billows, PMP, an expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish.

During an introductory video conference, you and Dick Billows PMP, will design your program and what you want to learn. You will choose you course and select your case study from business, marketing, construction, healthcare, or consulting options.  Your case study-based assignments that include project plans, schedules and presentations will fit your project specialty.

Author: Dick Billows, PMP

Dick has more than 25 years of project and program management experience throughout the US and overseas. Dick was a partner in the 4th largest professional firm and a VP in a Fortune 200 company. He trained and developed 100's of project managers using his methodology. Dick is the author of 14 books, over 300 articles and director/producer of 90 short project management training videos. He and a team of 25 project managers work with client companies & students across the US and in Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. They have assisted over 300 organizations in improving their project performance. Books by Dick Billows, PMP are on