It’s common for PMP®s to worry that outside consultants aren’t familiar with their organization’s culture or that someone outside the group won’t understand the internal challenges—political struggles, reluctant stakeholders, etc.—that they face. To overcome this knowledge gap, external experts embrace new client relationships by gathering information on who is involved in the project and what role each person plays.
The project office can reap big rewards by periodically conducting the same sort of fact-finding mission related to stakeholders’ personalities. Achieving repeatable success means having a deep understanding of the individuals that will influence the project, either with their contributions or as customers seeking to address needs. It’s through that knowledge that PMP®s can tackle difficult hurdles and identify what is truly important and relevant when it comes to executing complex projects.
You don’t need to create an elaborate reporting matrix to accomplish this task. By sticking to the basics of who’s who, PMP®s will be in a better position to spot untapped resource pools, identify the root of pressing concerns, and evaluate where opportunities may exist to improve stakeholder engagement and customer satisfaction.
Who are the key players?
When a consultant steps into a project, activities are usually already underway. As a result, the external partner may need to immediately connect with the right individuals to jump-start lagging tasks or to get progress back on track. Your Project Team can achieve similar efficiency by maximizing its time and nurturing key relationships. There will no doubt be several groups that play important roles, so look at multiple areas as you identify which people are crucial to success.
Inside the project office. Obviously there will be a list of participants within the Project Team who are actively working on the project. Identify the project’s lead PMP®s and distribute the list internally as well as among stakeholders. This ensures that communications are routed to the right person and strategic meetings include the necessary individuals.
Consider, too, if there are other people who may be contributing their efforts. Does someone facilitate communications with a difficult-to-reach purchasing or accounting team, for example? If so, that person is a vital link in the chain. Make their role known within the Project Team and plan to leverage their expertise when necessary.
Outside the project office. Stakeholders are often a source of help but occasionally the cause of time-sapping frustration. Begin by identifying the project’s sponsors and determining what sort of assistance each can offer. Consider if certain end user groups are typically vocal with concerns or belligerent when activities impact them. Does the executive group expect on-demand status updates or are they content with periodic progress reports? Establish which stakeholders are involved in guiding other project decisions, such as work disruption schedules. They may not be part of early-stage strategic discussions but should remain in the loop as the project moves forward.
Gathering insight into stakeholders’ personalities will help the team set expectations and manage communications to best support each group. It’s also a key step in identifying where spheres of influence could trigger political pressures or disrupt particular project stages. The team can then address any issues proactively with a neutral approach.
Outside the organization. Business partners are frequently involved in mission-critical activities. Be sure the team knows which vendors have significant influence over scope (architects, for example, must ensure their plans adhere to building codes, giving their input greater weight in the decision-making process) and factor in their participation appropriately. This allows team members and stakeholders to know who is in a position to present the most relevant data at each phase of the project’s lifecycle.