How to manage stakeholder expectations?

One of the biggest complaints we have from project managers is how we manage the expectation of all these stakeholders.

It is just too much to keep track of. We want to give a few reminders today, some queues that may tip you off that maybe expectations are out of alignment and things you can do for prevention. So let us look at some reminders:

  1. We want to remind everyone that not everyone is a stakeholder. Many times when a project is initiated there are different people within the organization, other client members, other team members, other vendor partners who try to get impact and feedback and request changes and we need to remember they are not necessarily stakeholders.
  2. Typically all organizations that are impacted by the project have stakeholders that are represented on the project and members of the change control board, but they have a representative that they go to, that they answer to the organization; so not everyone is a stakeholder.
  3. The formal stakeholders are documented typically in project charter, and or your project plan. So the stakeholders will be identified by the names, the role they are playing on the project, and the organization they are representing. Those are the true stakeholders. Anyone else from those organizations that have feedback, need to be redirected to their stakeholders for them to provide input through them.
  4. Stakeholders typically have multiple projects going to on meeting main task, looking at lots of reports trying to make decisions so they rely on you the PM to keep things documented, managed and delivered.

So I wanted to give some of these reminders because many times when things start happening during the course of a project then people run around with different myths, or information so what are some of the queue that tip you off that expectations from your stakeholder are not being met. If you have a stakeholder in the organization that say;

  • I thought this project was going to be delivered last month, or I thought this person was going to deliver something, or
  • He said that he or she comment, well she said that we were supposed to get IT to do a certain task, or
  • This never worked, or
  • IT never delivers or
  • We are always late.

If you hear some of these questions, then again there is somewhere there is a misalignment, something that you need to address by Project Manager.

So what is prevention for some of the expectations being out of alignment? We feel like you can sort thing out right in and keep them on track along the way, and the project is here. It is true that an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure. So here are some things which we found helpful.

  1. Document the stakeholders. Document the stakeholders in your charter or project plan so you know their name role in the org they are representing and
  2. Actually know the stakeholders. Many time the PM stakeholder we don’t even know who they are. We don’t see them. They don’t even talk to them. Remember they are who you answer to. They are the people who own the project. They are the people who fund the project and they are the people who make the decisions for the project; so you as the project manager need to know them. Best way we know who to do that is to interview them. If you are there locally with them, then it is great to have a coffee meeting or an informal meeting; just a few minutes or to even say my team is remote or they are in other country well Skype is good for that you can Skype or have a phone conversation, but really get to know them. Get to know their conversation, get to know what issues they have what assumptions they are making, what concerns or what they value the most in the project, so really get to know them; what makes them tick and what will throw them off track;
  3. Inform your team of this information about the stakeholders. Get your team to know the stakeholders. Your team need to know not just what they are responsible for, but they need to know who they are working for; who their client is; who their stakeholders are; things about the project that are important that will help them keep that in mind as the project goes along.
  4. Set up and enforce the process. It is important for the Project Manager to keep process in the line so that when other people in the organization may be either approach you the Project Manager or your team members and let them know that there is a process, a change management process, so a feedback needs to come thought he project or decision need to be made it need to go through the formal change management process and again knowing that even though you enforce the process, sometimes you have to tweak your process; so keeping that up-to-date and keeping everyone within the project and outside the project on track.
  5. Providing status frequently, regularly up- to-date in the format that is appropriate for the different person; remembering that executives require different level of status then the team members. The team members may need more detail on their tasks, the executives may need more detail about the overall status of the project and the health of the project.
  6. Touch base regularly and ask questions of your stakeholders. Contact them again. Keep in constant contact and touch base to say how is it going what do you think about the project? Is it meeting your expectation? So by asking questions, you can see what concerns they have instead of getting in an executive meeting and you being the last to know that you are going to be hit with something that your team has missed, that your project manager has missed.
  7. It is important to dispel myths because they stakeholders do have multiple projects, so many things going on, it is hard for you to track of. There are different people within the project, outside the project giving information and that is where myths come about where people making assumption, make statements about things so it is important to constantly dispel those myths along the way and keep people saying truth about actually what is happening in the project.

So we feel like this is the ounce of prevention that will save you a pound of cure. For keeping for your stakeholder expectation aligned and on track.


Last modified on Sunday, 12 March 2017 21:16
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