Tip #3 Carefully manage key stakeholder relationships
Stakeholder relationship management can be challenging even on simple, straightforward projects. In complex projects, that management responsibility can be overwhelming. In our book, Managing Complex Projects, Dr. Harold Kerzner suggests a six step process for managing these relationships. Some of the highlights include:
Identifying and classifying the stakeholders, not just at the beginning of the project, but rather at the start of each life-cycle phase. Understand both the key stakeholders and the secondary stakeholders as well. If the project involves a long timeline, it’s quite possible that the relative influence and involvement of the key and secondary stakeholders will wax and wane throughout the project. Depending on the geographical dispersion of these stakeholders, it may be difficult to understand/identify who they are, and even more difficult to develop the necessary relationships with them to help ensure project support.
Engaging with the stakeholders to understand their concerns and their needs. Develop value-driven key performance indicators (KPIs) that the individual stakeholders believe are important and report on those KPIs throughout the project.
Clarifying the working relationships with stakeholders. In geographically dispersed projects, it may not be possible for the project manager to develop a one-on-one relationship with all of the key stakeholders. This may have to be accomplished through other project team members (sponsors, virtual teams) who are more geographically proximate to the stakeholders in question. Document these working relationships and continually socialize the relationships throughout the project.
Accomplishing these may seem burdensome but will immensely add to your ability to maintain the stakeholders’ continued support throughout the project.