What You Should Know about Stakeholder Management Plans for the PMP Certification Exam

The organizational culture and politics are very influential in how you can manage stakeholder engagement. For the PMP Certification Exam, you will want to consider the following as you plan on how best to manage stakeholder engagement:

  • Which stakeholders are active in each phase of the project lifecycle

  • Whether a stakeholder is a supporter of your project or a resistor

  • The information each stakeholder needs and the best way to impart that information

Plan Stakeholder Management. Developing appropriate management strategies to effectively engage stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle, based on the analysis of their needs, interests, and potential impact on project success.

Plan Stakeholder Management: Inputs

You should consider each component of the project management plan to help you plan for effective stakeholder engagement. For example:

  • Project lifecycle: Informs you about the activities, processes, expertise, deliverables, and approvals needed in each phase of the project. Traditional waterfall lifecycles require a different method of engaging stakeholders than an agile lifecycle.

  • Schedule: Identifies which resources will be active in the project at any given time.

  • Communications management plan: Describes who needs information, the type of information they need, and when they need it.

  • Procurement management plan: Identifies vendors, contractors, and other external stakeholders that you will need to determine how best to work with.

  • Quality management plan: The quality management plan can highlight quality requirements, measurements, and techniques that may require special attention, such as sending quality results to external regulatory agencies or to an external customer.

  • Human resource management plan: Identifies the project team resources, reporting relationships, and roles and responsibilities.

The stakeholder register records stakeholder identification information and the stakeholder category, such as supporter, neutral, or resistor. You will use the register to create a stakeholder engagement assessment.

Plan Stakeholder Management: Tools and Techniques

To create an effective stakeholder management plan, you need to meet with people with expertise in several areas:

  • Technical: People with expertise in the technical fields involved in the project can help you understand the stakeholders who will be involved during each phase of the lifecycle, what their concerns will be, and how they can contribute to the project.

  • Management: Management can let you know the types of reports that are needed and provide insight into senior management concerns as well as some of the politics you need to be aware of to manage stakeholders effectively.

  • Previous project managers or team members: People who have worked on similar projects will be able to tell you where the pitfalls are and what to watch out for on the project. They can provide valuable advice and inform you of techniques that were effective in the past.

Another technique for mapping stakeholder engagement is to classify each stakeholder, each stakeholder’s current level of engagement, and the desired level of engagement. One way of assessing engagement is the following:

  • Unaware: The stakeholder is not aware of the project nor its outcomes.

  • Resistant: The stakeholder is aware of the project but does not support it.

  • Neutral: The stakeholder is ambivalent about the project and its outcomes.

  • Supportive: The stakeholder feels favorably about the project and its outcomes.

  • Leading: The stakeholder is actively engaged in promoting the project.

You can document the steps that you will take to move stakeholders from resistant to neutral or unaware to supportive (and so forth) in a matrix called a Stakeholder Engagement Assessment Matrix.

Stakeholder Unaware Resistant Neutral Supportive Leading
Manny B A
Jocelyn B A
Jamie B A
Kim B A

Prior to implementing a stakeholder management strategy, Manny was unaware of the project, and that the desired outcome is that after the plan is implemented, he will be supportive. Jocelyn is resistant, and the desired “after” classification is neutral. This type of matrix can be recorded as part of the stakeholder management plan, or it can be used to develop the approach documented in the stakeholder management plan.

Plan Stakeholder Management: Outputs

The strategies and steps you take to engage stakeholders effectively are documented in a stakeholder management plan, which is a component of the project management plan.

A stakeholder management plan can be very high-level. For example, you can develop a strategy based on the grid cell that you placed your stakeholders when analyzing their engagement: say, how to move a stakeholder from high power/low support to high power/high support. If you used the stakeholder analysis model of unaware up through leading, you can document strategies and steps to get from neutral to supportive or even leading.

For the running childcare center example, you might develop different strategies for internal stakeholders than you would for external stakeholders.

You can also assess strategies depending on the type of role, such as leader, supporter, and neutral. The needs of the project will help you determine the best approach. The four things to remember about developing stakeholder engagement strategies are the following:

  • Be proactive. Take time upfront to determine how to make the most of your supportive stakeholders and also how to minimize the potential damage from your resistor stakeholders.

  • Be sensible. Some of your strategies may be politically sensitive. Use discretion on what you write down versus how much you consider as a public document.

  • Use communication. The main tool with which to influence stakeholders and manage their expectations is communication. Information from the stakeholder engagement plan strategy will feed into the communications management plan and managing stakeholder engagement.

  • Gain support. Ensure your stakeholders’ expectations align with the project and identify strategies to engage stakeholders in supporting your project.

You likely will need to circle back and make some updates to your stakeholder register, communications management plan, and other project management plan components and the documents.

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