Beyond Execution

Making a difference in project management by training, speaking and writing


Stakeholder Management

Posted by beyondexecution on February 1, 2014 at 11:30 AM

I recently signed up for a new PM service, and as part of that service, they are sending me (translation:blitzing me) with emails about blog posts and webinars and free (!) PDUs.  Can't say I blame them, they are starting a new business, and you need to build an audience to gain a predicable revenue stream for the future.  The only trouble is, for me, I'm not overly interested in the content, at least at this point in time.

However, they did send off on a topic about Stakeholder Management.  I did go through their blog post, and it had the regular stuff you would read about in the PMBOK Guide.  Which is fine, except of all the knowledge areas, the PMBOK content on stakeholder management is THE most theoretical for PMs.  There are very very few PMs who would actually take the time to do it this way.  Stakeholder Management is a very touchy-feely, interpesonal skills mixed with strategic tactics, that can't easily be captured into a bunch of processes and templates.  You need supporters as well as exceptional communication skills, not just above average skills.

One of the problems is that there are a lot of PMs who don't require the same exposure to stakeholder management as others.  In my line of work, I probably encounter IT PMs about 50% of the time.  I realize that's purely anecdotal, but that's still a large percentage, no matter what.  IT projects are complex, and there's little room for errors, since that will cause all sorts of havoc downstream.  But there's very little stakeholder management in the classical sense, per se.

What do I mean by that?  Well, consider the business project sponsor on the other side of that.  The amount of stakeholder management that side of the equation has to handle far exceeds anything the IT PM has to handle.  Any time you involve Change Management aspects, there are significant stakeholder management duties that come through.  Here, stakeholder management means convincing people to accept a new product, changing the way they are measured and assessed, forgetting good and bad habits, trying to develop and retain new ones, filling out new forms, new reporting requirements, old processes that have been removed, etc.  You will have "enemies", you will need allies, you will need to make friends when you didn't want to.  And this is stuff that you cannot possibly learn from reading a couple of processes from the PMBOK.

So at this point in time, I'd advise others to stay away from spouting PMBOK when it relates to stakeholder management.  It's simply not realistic.

Categories: General Project Management