Projects can involve a lot of work during both the during the starting and conceptualization phases involved. And that applies doubly if the project you are undertaking is a major one.
As a general rule, successful projects need the collaboration of everyone involved. No single person is ever the sole involvement of a big project.
When stakeholders get involved, that’s when you need to tackle things systematically. Often times, that dictates drawing up a Project Stakeholder Management Plan.
You’ll need it to understand the requirements of the key stakeholders in your project. Ultimately, they hold power to make or break the project’s success.
That’s why a good project manager has to take all their requirements and concerns into consideration.
To help you build a viable stakeholder management plan, we’ll be listing some of the key 6 steps to writing a project stakeholder management plan. This will have you draft up a solid plan in no time.
1. Know Your Stakeholder Types
One of the first 6 steps to writing a project stakeholder management plan is knowing your stakeholders. Before you can even start drafting up your stakeholder management plan, you need to know who they are, especially if you want the plan to be effective.
When talking to your stakeholders, there are usually two types that we refer towards. These are external and internal stakeholders. It’s important to identify early on which of your stakeholders fall into which category.
For the most part, internal stakeholder comprises that are either directly involved with the completion of your project or are a part of your organization.
Examples of internal stakeholders include various heads of your company’s different departments. These can include departments like Research and Development, Marketing, Production, HR, Accounting and Finance, IT, and many others.
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Internal stakeholders have a vested interest in the success of the project. They may have the ability to influence decisions and affect the pace, direction, or overall success of the project through their individual powers.
External stakeholders, on the other hand, have no direct insider involvement for the project. They are not a part of the organization’s various departments or even the organization as a whole.
Instead, external stakeholders are comprised of investors that may not have a direct contribution to the project but act as an investor with an ROI as their sole interest.
External stakeholders can comprise individuals from anywhere. But usually, they include media, customers, and other corporate entities.
External stakeholders typically have very little ability to affect the outcome of the project directly. Instead, they may be able to exercise their position or impose outside influence to affect key decisions.
Knowing both types of stakeholders and listing them is paramount for your management plan. Both types of investors will have different interests and requirements that need to meet accordingly.
2. Rank the Stakeholders During Each Step of the Project
The second biggest priority in the 6 steps to writing a project stakeholder management plan is knowing where your stakeholders fall in the list.
It’s one thing to know the types of stakeholders that are involved in your project. It’s another to know exactly where their place may be determined in the pecking order.
At each step of your project, you may be faced with certain concerns or priorities that you need to fulfill. These will all be determined by your stakeholders.
This is the step of the process where you stop looking at your stakeholders as binary types and start looking over them individually.
Certain internal stakeholders will feel compelled to have their specific needs met as the project approaches their department of expertise.
It’s important to predict which of these priorities will come up during each stage of the project. The only sure-fire way to know it is to know your stakeholders individually and where their goals may lie.
Doing this will set up a decent predictor model that you can rely on for your project’s future trajectory. This also makes it valuable for making your management plan.
3. Understand your Stakeholder’s Stance on the Project
As you surpass each step of building your stakeholder management, you will start getting more specific about your stakeholder.
At this step, you will have to do a deep dive into your stakeholders’ specific motivations and their general stance or feelings towards the project stand.
It’s important to understand the stakeholder with as much detail as you can. This is not only to better facilitate goals and contribute to the advancement of the project. It’s also a good step to prevent any conflicting paths that divert your project’s progress.
Too many dissimilar goals and opinions can easily lead to the demise of greater progress. You need to make sure that moments like these can be carefully managed using your plan.
That’s why it’s important to ask the right question when getting stakeholders on board with your project. Things like their interests, expectations, concerns, and contributions will need to be well documented.
4. Assign Each Stakeholder to a Category
By now, you should have a firm grasp on just exactly who your stakeholders are. Form the list of 6 steps to writing a project stakeholder management plan; your priority now should be to group them into categories that will help you determine how to manage them best.
The main focus of this step is to consider your stakeholder’s level of impact and how big their sphere of influence might be.
We can’t rely on any anecdotal methods here. No prediction model will work effectively 100% of the time. But in most cases, we employ the use of a Mendelow’s Matrix to assign our stakeholders.
Here, we use the correlation of power against influence to get four basic quadrants. These are
- High Power and Low Interest
- High Power and High Interest
- Low Power and Low Interest
- Low Power and High Interest
The purpose of assigning these categories is to determine the appropriate action needed to be taken.
For groups with high power and low interest, the goal is always to keep them satisfied and content with the project progress. This can cause a spark in sudden interest.
Groups with low power and high interest will need to be informed at every step of progress. They can provide a high level of unbridled support to the project.
Low power and low-interest groups will need to be monitored for current behavior. You shouldn’t rely on them too much, but they can flourish in rare circumstances.
High power and high-interest groups are the most valuable to the project. They will need to be managed very closely.
Knowing the right action for the group will help solidify and build you a management plan that’s ready for action.
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5. Give Your Stakeholders a Voice
The power of your stakeholder will mostly remain constant. But it’s their level of interest and engagement that can change throughout the course of the project’s development.
Part of your project manager’s job is to make sure that minimal to no interest is lost between any stakeholder. This is crucial as it is important for the stakeholders to feel that they are on board.
And there’s no worse feeling for a stakeholder than feeling like they don’t have a say in any matters. That’s why it’s so important to prevent such issues.
Stakeholders need the assurance that they can voice their concerns and be heard. You need to ensure that you can provide them that level of reassurance as part of your management plan.
You will need to make that you can impart the fact that you are actively listening to and following your stakeholder without being a surface level Yes-Man.
6. Set Up Realistic Expectations
The last of 6 steps to writing a project stakeholder management plan is managing expectations accurately.
During every meeting, you are expected to deliver clear timeframes for the completion of goals. You are also expected to define which goals are expected to be complete.
Setting up unrealistic expectations or being unreasonable with timeframes is a shortcut to disaster.
Stakeholders value accurate, honest, and timely feedback on such matters. It’s very important that you can provide that to them.
This will help create trust, build understanding, and impart a good belief in your project’s involvement while making stakeholders feel more involved.
These six steps will help you create a project stakeholder management plan that’s accurate and actionable.
While a project isn’t always a guaranteed success, prompt planning ensures that it does not stray too far off the path of accomplishing your project completion.
It’s always pertinent to keep in mind the impact a solid plan can have on building trust and confidence among stakeholders for your project.