Stakeholders are the project manager’s most important asset. PMI has publically recognized their importance by adding it as the 10th Knowledge Area to PMBOK version 5.0.
Modern stakeholders are aware of their own importance and are taking advantage of that by speaking out. They are speaking out by asking questions; of which are being tabled before the project actually kicks off. Companies appear to be acknowledging that projects bring a certain amount of inherent risk with them. If one of the key “triple constraints” (Scope, Time, Cost) have to give, which one can and should it be? Examples of this understanding are being manifested in the following ways:
- CTOs questioning technical leads on what they are most worried about and what the plan is going forward.
- Infrastructure directors showing foresight into operational management contracts and how equipment is going to be maintained.
- CIO officers discussing value in steering committees where business application leads are included to consider best times for outage windows and acceptable down times.
- Managers questioning procurement quotes to ensure that they are receiving the most aggressive and impartial pricing based on industry standards.
- Third party and external vendors clarifying expiration dates for services purchased in conjunction with equipment.
The adage “communicate often, communicate early” bodes well for engaged and empowered project stakeholders. The delivery of PM must be just as empowered in relation to their own questioning strategies and analysis of their stakeholders. Quickly aligning to stakeholders’ must haves can be done by asking the following fundamental questions:
- Which project resources will provide the client the best assurance for a sound technical delivery?
- Which governance components will alleviate any concerns the project sponsor has around risk?
- What communication cadences will my stakeholders be the most likely to respond to?
- Who is my most influential stakeholder and what is the best way to create an effective relationship?
- How quickly do the stakeholders expect to see results and when do the results = final product expectations?
It is motivating to see both internal and external stakeholders alike take a refreshing interest in project effort. Through repeat client engagements, stakeholders will continue to see the benefit project management attention to environment and detail. Add a lessons learned spin and this becomes a winning project package.