The Importance of Project Stakeholder Management

As you study for your project management professional (PMP) certification exam, you'll explore stakeholder management. The focus of stakeholder management isn't to manage stakeholders but instead to manage their engagement in your project.

If you think about it, you often have no control over key stakeholders: for example, regulatory agencies, customers, and your sponsor. Therefore, you want to focus on understanding their needs and the relationship to the project:

  • What type of requirements do they have?

  • Do they support your project?

  • Will your project have a negative effect for them?

  • How should you communicate with them?

Consider these approaches when managing project stakeholders:

  • For those stakeholders with a high degree of influence, you need to plan how to maximize their positive influence and behavior. In other words, you want to deliberately figure out how to optimize their engagement level and their engagement type with your project.

    Leverage powerful stakeholders who support your project by asking them to champion your project to others, especially those who are more resistant to your project.

  • For powerful stakeholders who are not supportive of your project, you want to find a way to minimize the potential for them to disrupt your project or slow your progress. You might do this by finding even a little benefit for them, or you might appeal to their sense of loyalty to the organization.

    Sometimes, the best you can hope for is that the stakeholders who don't support your project will remain in the back ground and not be disruptive.

Throughout your project, you should stay in communication with key stakeholders and check in to see whether their support level has changed. You will also want to see whether your engagement strategy is effective. You may need to revisit your approach to managing their engagement if your initial plan was not successful.

Keeping your eye on your stakeholders can be the difference in having a project that goes relatively smoothly and one that is a struggle, so make sure to periodically go through the identify, plan, manage, and control processes with your project stakeholders.

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