August 12 2023 at 12:00AM
How You Manage Your Stakeholders Is The Key Driver To Success
In today’s complex business landscape, successful project management requires more than internal resources such as technical skills and resource allocation but also ability to balancing stakeholder needs including ensuring the seamless synergy and collaboration from donors, project team members, partners, to targeted beneficiaries. Profit oriented and development cooperation project implementations are not free from a ‘political environment’ as the result of people interaction based on their personal or groups of interest in the projects’ outcomes. At the early proposal development and project planning, identification of stakeholders, specifically external stakeholders may minimize the pressures from actions triggering cascading events (e.g., legal actions, protest, cost overrun, and termination of projects). It is important that project managers could manage stakeholder engagement for collaboration, determine stakeholders’ interest and their ability to influence, while the same time mitigating the risks and adjust the project actions accordingly.
These writing aims to present summary of reports and articles on project stakeholder management, comparing the approach from the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide) Seventh Edition. The two main highlighted areas are stakeholder identification/analysis and stakeholder engagement.
Stakeholder concept as stated in the PMBOK ® Guide Seventh Edition refers to an individual, group, and/or organisation who has interest and ability to influence the project activities or outcomes. The actions of stakeholders may trigger a domino effect that led to detrimental impacts for the project implementation. Thus, the stakeholder analysis is first step to have because:
- it increases the project’s team readiness in anticipating opportunities and challenges at the same time, allowing room for manoeuvring,
- help project manager and team members to understand the concerns and interest of main relevant stakeholders (e.g., public agencies, communities, donors),
- help the project representatives to identify the best ways procuring financial and non-financial resources.
Further, the direction of how project team members analyse and interact with stakeholders will characterize the pattern for stakeholder engagement approaches.
Understanding the stakeholder management to support project success involving combination of stakeholder identification and stakeholder engagement approach. Once the main stakeholders are identified, the project representatives should understand the behaviour element such as stakeholder’s feeling, emotions, beliefs, and values. The three-step approach of stakeholder management are:
- Build the stakeholder map: identify relevant stakeholders, mapping relationship and connection among stakeholders including understanding their interests. The analysis is an environmental interpretation processes, the project representatives have the obligation to understand the perspectives of stakeholders instead of judging stakeholders based on project’s point of views. For having a better result, a breakdown into smaller categories (prioritizing stakeholders) are advisable.
- Prioritise key stakeholder: revisiting assumptions about stakeholder interests and commitments. The project team should select the appropriate communication form and content of engagement/communication. It could help project team maintains the positive perception and empathy for their perspectives. Techniques for engagement includes:
- Forum (e.g., workshop, project update meetings)
- Media management, and
- Open house
- Develop key stakeholders: build their commitment to the change. The stakeholder engagement in majority facilitates information exchanges, rather than allowing stakeholders to actively shaping the project decisions. Tools such as impact and readiness assessment could be used to build approach for engagement based on investigation of formal and informal aspects of stakeholder behaviour such as in the power-oriented relationship (e.g., governance structure in public-private cooperation).
The process of stakeholder engagement from the project installation and implementation is expected to generate trust. Several transparent communication channels will keep stakeholders informed and involved. The communication may minimize the “dangerous side” of disappointment which may occur dues to the fact of gaps on wishes and conflicting requirements.
A good the stakeholder management approaches shall contribute to:
- Effectiveness and efficiency in project design and implementation processes. The project plan is tailored to align with stakeholder expectations, resulting in greater support and buy-in. It also promotes inclusive collaboration and higher chances of success.
- Timely manner action in managing expectations and conflicts. Communication channels are properly established to ensure stakeholders receive accurate and timely information about project update and its challenges. Including facilitating discussion and dialogues for win-win solutions that solve the concerns of stakeholders.
- Provide opportunities for stakeholders to contribute for ideas in particular problem-solving opinions which could attract further in-kind contribution.
- Access additional resources, expertise, and influence to risks. It help strengthening project’s resilience to external challenges and uncertainties
In conclusion, stakeholder management is one of key driver for a project success. By understanding and engaging stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle, project representatives could leverage project’s modality to enhance decision making during project implementation and achieving outcomes. Moreover, stakeholder management can significantly contribute to achieving project objectives (e.g., mutual synergy with stakeholders through trust generation, appropriate conflict resolutions, navigation of project risks) and ensuring short- and long-term success in today dynamic but disruptive business environment.
 Vogwell, D. (2003). Stakeholder management. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2003—EMEA, The Hague, South Holland, The Netherlands. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute. Document can be retrieved at https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/stakeholder-management-task-project-success-7736
 Sperry, R. C., & Jetter, A. J. (2019). A Systems Approach to Project Stakeholder Management: Fuzzy Cognitive Map Modeling. Project Management Journal, 50(6), 699–715. https://doi.org/10.1177/8756972819847870
 PMBOK® Guide – Seventh Edition
 Eskerod, P., Huemann, M., & Savage, G. (2015). Project stakeholder management: past and present. Project Management Journal, 46(6), 6–14.
 Miller, D. & Oliver, M. (2015). Engaging Stakeholders for Project Success. PMI White Paper. Available at https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/engaging-stakeholders-project-success-11199
 Eskerod, P., Huemann, M., & Ringhofer, C. (2015). Stakeholder Inclusiveness: Enriching Project Management with General Stakeholder Theory1. Project Management Journal, 46(6), 42–53. https://doi.org/10.1002/pmj.21546