New research from Elizabeth Harrin shows that project managers understand the value of the stakeholder analysis process and stakeholder management but in many cases they aren’t doing it (or aren’t able to do it).
Engaging stakeholders on projects is essential for success. The survey, conducted at the end of last year via Elizabeth’s blog, GirlsGuideToPM.com, included responses from over 300 project managers worldwide. They reported that the value of stakeholder management is clear. It:
- Helps manage risk
- Improves the perception of success
- Improves project handovers
- Helps secure resources
- Ensures the team does what is required.
Doing stakeholder management well, and moving beyond the obligation to document a list of people affected by a project on some kind of log, has a real impact on being able to deliver your project successfully. When you know that it can help you smooth out issues on your project and get work done more effectively, wouldn’t you prioritise doing it?
That doesn’t seem to be the case. Project managers are prevented from doing effective stakeholder management for a number of reasons including not having management support (45%), not having enough time to do it when juggling their other responsibilities (48%) and not having the templates to set the processes up (27%).
Constrains on stakeholders’ time came up multiple times in the comments that respondents added to their survey results. “This seems to be a real issue for people,” Elizabeth says. “When your stakeholders don’t give you the time you need with them, your project suffers because you can’t get the direction and decisions that help you keep moving forward.”
In response to the survey results, Elizabeth has put together a Masterclass on stakeholder management to help project managers create better working relationships with stakeholders and customers.
“The difficulty with stakeholder management is that there is no magic wand,” she says. “It’s impossible to hand out a formula that would work in every situation, for every business, for every project, and that’s where much of the formal teaching about stakeholder management falls down. We give people the templates and processes but we don’t explain how to actually move people’s positions, or share the techniques that really work.”
Much of that hard-won knowledge comes from experience, and that’s difficult to get for someone new to the role. Equally, even mid-level career professionals can struggle when faced with a difficult set of personalities or a particularly challenging project.
Elizabeth’s Masterclass is a shortcut to gaining that knowledge, packed with practical tips to navigate the difficult terrain of stakeholder relationships. “What I can do is give you the tools, techniques and confidence to boost your stakeholder relationships at work so you can effectively decide which way on the map to go,” she adds.
Unlike lots of online training classes, the Stakeholder Management Masterclass will be delivered live over 4 weeks. “I’ve already had students sign up from overseas who know now that they won’t be able to make the live classes,” Elizabeth explains. “They’ll be getting information in advance of the classes so they can still ask their questions and then they can watch the replays. I hope I’ve created an engaging format that will allow me to tailor the course and enable delegates to get the most out of it.”
Elizabeth’s objective is that she can give project managers the confidence to engage with project stakeholders – even the difficult ones. When you have confidence, and the techniques, you can build credibility and authority at work and put together a clear engagement plan for working with others on the project.