June 2, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Stakeholder Management
How to Deal With a Change in Stakeholders
By Glen D. Ford
When implementing a project one of the changes you will encounter will be a change in stakeholders. After all, people move on. People change. And the more people you deal with the more likely that a key stakeholder will change.
So how do you deal with it?
In this article, I’m going to discuss how a project manager should deal with a change in stakeholders. But I have a problem.
Stakeholder is a deceptive term. There are far more people involved that we might first expect to be a stakeholder. For example, would you consider your team members to be stakeholders? They are. Would you consider their families to be stakeholders? Again, they too have a stake in the project. After all, it’s their spouse or parent or child that will be potentially working extreme hours on the project.
There are many different types of stakeholders. And they have different levels of influence. As much as we might wish to treat all stakeholders the same, we cannot. It would be impossible.
In this article, I’m going to share seven tips to help you deal with a change in stakeholders. In doing that, I’m going to try to focus on elements which matter to all first circle stakeholders. That is those who are directly and personally involved in the project either as customers, as sponsors or as providers. I’m not going to deal with second or third tier stakeholders — although most of these comments also apply to them in different levels of importance.
- Meet personally with the individual. There is always a tendency to believe that the incoming stakeholder will simply slot into place where the old stakeholder was. You can’t afford to make that mistake. Even if you can’t meet with them face-to-face you should make every effort to meet with them personally. And then follow that meeting up by a face-to-face meeting at some future point.
Explain the history of the project. Your stakeholder needs to be aware of any major decisions that the project has made up to this point. After all, they’re going to be expected to participate in any future decisions — and having them rehash old decisions is wasteful.
Explain the why of any decisions made. One of the sad realities of project life, is that your stakeholder’s predecessor won’t be blamed for any mistakes they made. Your stakeholder will be. Besides most people want to make their own decisions. Explaining the why behind the key decisions already made will help to reduce this desire.
Determine their communications needs. Communications needs depend both on the position of the stakeholder in the project and on the individual. After all, management style frequently depends more on the individual rather than the situation. And communications preferences are very personal.
Ensure they know the risks regarding the project. Every project and every decision has risks associated with it. By ensuring your stakeholder knows the risks you can help to ensure that there is no surprise when a risk even occurs.
Explain their responsibilities. Every project is different. Don’t just expect your stakeholder to read up on the project and understand what’s expected of them. Explain their responsibilities and your expectations.
Explain the processes associated with the project. Every project is different. Even when a single set of rules is supposed to be in place. Always explain how change management works for your project. Always explain how reporting works. And always explain how the reporting structure works.
Glen Ford is an accomplished project management consultant, trainer and writer. He has over 20 years experience as a project manager in such diverse projects as Construction, IT, Software Development, Marketing and Business Startup. He is a serial entrepreneur who quite literally learned to be an entrepreneur at his great-grandfather’s knee.
Check out his newest book available on Amazon at http://vproz.ca/books/how-to-document-a-project-plan. You can read more from Glen on his blog.
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