Project managers have to deliver project quality alongside meeting stakeholders' expectations. Stakeholder management is one of the most crucial dimensions of project management and this has four essential elements a project manager must adopt.
1) Analyzing stakeholder profiles
2) Developing collaborations with stakeholders
3) Setting and managing stakeholder expectations
4) Fostering partnerships with stakeholders
A project manager needs to consider how the project management deliverables could impact stakeholders. In a mixed environment, this requires conducting stakeholder analysis. Stakeholders may include account managers, customer managers, marketing managers, operations managers, service managers, finance people, and engineering and technical groups, to name a few. Once the project manager has listed all the stakeholders, a stakeholder matrix is created out of this information as a table that outlines the expectations and deliverables of your stakeholders. This clarifies what each of the stakeholders wants from the project management team.
A project manager is expected to speak the language of stakeholders. The project manager must actively engage with stakeholders throughout the project's lifecycle, ensuring their input and concerns are heard and addressed. A project manager needs to include and align tightly with all the stakeholders and keep them on the same page of the decision. An essential part of this is to decide the type of communication style required to work effectively with various stakeholders. Collaboration and open communication with stakeholders help set clear project goals and expectations, which is essential for project alignment.
Setting and managing expectations
A project manager needs a strategy to manage the expectations of its stakeholders. Part of this project manager is expected to know and handle reasonable and unreasonable expectations from stakeholders. The project manager needs to negotiate with the decision-makers to navigate the complexity of decisions and several angles involved at various layers of stakeholders. Project managers often need to meet competing or conflicting stakeholder expectations, for example, a design manager may expect to design a perfect product, while a sales manager would expect to launch the product quickly, even if it’s not perfect.
Fostering a strong partnership with stakeholders is pivotal for achieving project success. By demonstrating a commitment to partnership, the project manager can gain the trust and support of stakeholders, which can be invaluable in times of challenges or changes. Involving stakeholders in decision-making processes promotes a sense of ownership and can lead to innovative solutions. A project manager's ability to cultivate a strong partnership with stakeholders is a cornerstone of effective project execution and success.
As a project manager, make sure you conduct an upfront analysis of all the stakeholders involved in the project, look for opportunities to develop stronger collaborations, set clear expectations with stakeholders, and finally, present yourself as a partner in the project while managing their expectations.
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