Most project management professionals will tell you that project advocacy is part of their job, but are they really taking that task seriously? Simply being on a project management team doesn’t make you an advocate. On the contrary, busy project managers can actually undermine their role as advocate if they aren’t committed and focused. Take a look at some of the hallmarks of strong advocacy, and see if your efforts are keeping you on the right track.

Project advocates truly listen to stakeholders. Too often, a project’s objectives take over. At some point, it can even seem that PMs are beholden to the objectives above all others. Advocates stay in regular contact with stakeholders throughout the project to ensure things are moving forward as expected. They also encourage a robust two-way dialogue with stakeholders so that any concerns are aired early and dealt with as a partnership.

Project advocates recognize every group of stakeholders. Powerful project supporters wield a lot of influence, but project advocates also seek out other groups that have a vested interest in how the project goes but are often given little opportunity to participate. Advocates strive to include underserved groups at all stages of a project. This helps in developing good objectives as well as managing potential disruptions or other issues throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Project advocates understand that success is more than meeting deadlines and staying within a budget. Instead of focusing solely on completing each project, advocates work hard to maintain an overall vision that encompasses administrative objectives (dollars, schedules, etc.) in addition to stakeholder and end user satisfaction. Shifting organizational needs are evaluated against stakeholder expectations, and vice versa. Priorities that compete with management’s directives must be balanced—rather than dismissed without any real consideration—as the advocate endeavors to execute the best quality project possible.