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December 13, 2015

Manage Stakeholders

Every project has stakeholders–people who have a vested interest in the project either succeeding or failing. A critical mistake in project management is failing to communicate regularly with your stakeholders. Here are some tips to help you.

  • Identify your stakeholders and what you need from each. Consider people who will be affected by the project, who can influence the outcome, and who can advocate for the project.
  • Prioritize stakeholders from high to low priority. High priority stakeholders have power and/or influence over the project and are key to its success.
  • Decide who on the project team will have responsibility for managing stakeholders since you may only have the bandwidth to manage the high priority ones. Match project team members with lower priority stakeholders.
  • Meet with each stakeholder to go over the project and its objectives, discuss their expectations for the project, and learn their preference for status updates–frequency, mode of communication, and so on. Introduce the member of the project team who will be the stakeholder’s primary contact if it isn’t you.
  • Make sure team members understand when and how to communicate with their assigned stakeholders and set up a schedule of status reports to you on how the process is going. Immediately take action if you see a problem so it doesn’t grow into an obstacle for the project or jeopardize the outcome.

A stakeholder plan can build positive, productive relationships with key stakeholders and help you manage their expectations about outcomes. Keep in mind that this is a ongoing, critical part of your project and must be controlled to ensure a good result. See my blog post Quick Tips for Project Success for more information.

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