Hello and welcome back to our PMP Series. In the previous posts, we discussed Project Scope Management, Project Time Management, Project Cost Management, Project Quality Management, Project Human Resource Management, Project Communication Management, Project Risk Management, and the Project Selection Criteria and Project Procurement Management.

In continuation to our series, this article would explore another project management knowledge area important for the success of the PMP exam – Project Stakeholder Management.

Before we proceed, it is important for us to understand who stakeholders are. It is only then we can know who we are managing. A stakeholder is any party within or outside the organization that sponsors a project, is interested in the completion of the project or that might a positive or negative influence on the completion of the project. Simply put, a stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the project.

Now that we know who stakeholders are, project stakeholder management is the process of identifying people, groups or organizations that can impact or be impacted by a project. This involves the analysis of stakeholders’ expectation, their impact on project and develops relevant management strategies to engage stakeholders in project decision and execution.

The Project stakeholder management knowledge area has four processes, and in this article, we would explore the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs of these processes. The processes are:

  1. Identify Stakeholders.
  2. Plan Stakeholder management.
  3. Manage Stakeholder Engagement.
  4. Control Stakeholder Engagement.

The identify stakeholder falls under the initiation process group, plan stakeholder management under the planning process group, manage stakeholder engagements under the executing process group and the control stakeholder engagement under the monitoring and control process group.

Identify Stakeholders

This is the process of identifying the individuals, groups or organizations that have an influence or may be influenced by the project. This involves the documentation of relevant information about their interests, relationships, impact and involvement on the project. As a project manager, once this has been done, the stakeholders can now be classified into groups, based on the project phase where they have the most impact and thus managed accordingly.

The most important inputs for the Identify stakeholder process are the Project charter and the procurement documents. The project charter is a document which provides information about internal and external parties related with the project and how the execution, success or failure of the project affects them. The procurement documents, on the other hand, is the output of the procurement activity and identifies other parties (Suppliers) who should be considered as key project stakeholders. From the previous posts (Procurement management), we learnt that organizations are largely interdependent, hence, the way a supplier handles a contract might lead to the success or failure of the overall project. As usual, the enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets are also relevant inputs for the identify stakeholder process.

The identify stakeholder process has three tools and techniques which are the stakeholders analysis, expert judgment and meetings. The stakeholder analysis is the most important tool and is used in determining whose interest should be taken into consideration at the various phases of the project. The analysis also identifies stakeholders’ relationships with the project and other stakeholders which can be leveraged upon.

The figure is used in the analysis of stakeholders and it shows the power / interest grid.

The output of the identify stakeholder process is the stakeholder register. This contains information such as identification information, assessment information and stakeholder’s classification.

Plan Stakeholder Management

The plan stakeholder management is a planning process group that develops appropriate management skills in engaging stakeholders throughout the span of the project. This is done by analyzing the needs, interests and impact of a stakeholder on the success of the project. Stakeholder management involves improving communication, managing team and maintaining relationship between the stakeholders and the project team.

As project managers, the most import input for us when planning stakeholder management is the stakeholder register. This is the output of the identify stakeholder process discussed earlier. The information in it is used to plan the best ways in which the stakeholders can be engaged. The project management plan, the enterprise environmental factors and the organizational process assets are also relevant inputs necessary in planning stakeholder management.

There are three tools and techniques used in planning stakeholder management. By now, we can almost be certain that expert judgment would be one of the tools as it is used in analyzing almost every process. Meetings and the use of analytical techniques are the other two. Of all three, the analytical technique is the most important as it analyses the engagement level of stakeholders into five categories.

  • Unaware. Unaware of project and potential impacts.
  • Resistant. Aware of project and potential impacts and resistant to change.
  • Neutral. Aware of project yet neither supportive nor resistant.
  • Supportive. Aware of project and potential impacts and supportive to change.
  • Leading. Aware of project and potential impacts and actively engaged in ensuring the project is a success.

Using a table, we can analyze the current (C) engagement level of stakeholders as against the desired (D) engagement levels. For example, the table below shows that stakeholder 1 and 3 are at the desired level of engagement, while stakeholder 2 requires further motivation and communication to move them to the desired level.

Stakeholder Unaware Resistant Neutral Supportive Leading
Stakeholder 1 CD
Stakeholder 2 c D
Stakeholder 3 CD

The primary output of the plan stakeholder management is the stakeholder management plan. This is a document which identifies ways to effectively engage the stakeholders. This can be a sensitive document as it contains a lot of information such as list stakeholders who might be resistant to the project; hence as project managers, we should take appropriate precaution in handling the document. Update to the project document is also another output of this process.

Manage Stakeholder Engagement

Now that we have been able to identify who our stakeholders are and develop an action plan that would be used in managing them, it is now time to actually implement the plan i.e. manage the stakeholders. This is the process of engaging stakeholders, managing their needs through active communication and negotiation. As project managers, we also need to be proactive by identifying potential challenges before they become issues and resolving them as soon as possible.

The communication management plan is the most important input when managing stakeholders’ engagement. It has detailed information such as the stakeholders’ requirement, the information to be communicated, who receives a particular information, communication channel etc. Other relevant input for the manage stakeholder engagement process are the change log, stakeholder management plan and the organizational process assets.

From the discussion above, it is evident that communication method is the most important skill we should have as project managers when managing stakeholders’ engagement. Selecting the best method of communicating with different stakeholder is an essential task for the project manager as it can determine the success or failure of the project. Interpersonal skills (building trust, resolving conflict, active listening and overcoming resistance to change) and management skills (facilitating, influence, negotiation and flexibility) are other important tools and techniques required for managing stakeholders’ engagement.

The main output of manage stakeholder engagement is the issue log. It is constantly updated as new issues are identified and resolved. Other outputs are change request, project management plan updates and project document updates.

Control Stakeholder Engagement

This process belongs to the monitor and control process group. It involves monitoring stakeholder relationship and adapting existing strategies and plans to effectively engage stakeholders. It is, however, important to note that stakeholder engagement is not a one off process but a continuous process as stakeholders need to be continuously monitored and controlled.

The inputs for the control stakeholder engagement are the project management plan, issue log, work performance data and project documents. As of now, we would have realized that the project management plan is almost the singular most important document as it is an input for all the processes in the stakeholder management knowledge area as well as most of the processes in other knowledge areas. Information used to control stakeholder engagement from the project management plan includes the project life cycle, mode of project execution, human resource requirement and change management plan among others. The project Document just like the project management plan is also very important in controlling stakeholders’ engagement as it contains information such as stakeholder register, project schedule, issue log and project communication details.

The most important tool and technique for managing stakeholder engagement is information management system. This is a tool used by project manager to collate, store and disburse information about project cost, schedule and performance to relevant stakeholders. As usual, expert judgment and meeting are also used as tools and techniques for controlling stakeholder engagement.

The performance data collected from the various controlling processes, analyzed and integrate across various project areas is known as work performance information. The work performance information is the most important output of the control stakeholder output as it records information rather than data. Other outputs of this process are the project document updates and change request.

There you have it, the four processes that form the project communication management knowledge area. As usual, we have a summary diagram of the processes from the PMBOK shown below;

References and further reading

  1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide. Project Management Institute.
  2. Project Manager Salary