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Manage stakeholder expectations

Manage stakeholder expectations

As the name of this process suggests, it is there to ensure that all stakeholders are actively managed throughout the project and kept up to date with the latest appropriate information.

If stakeholders are poorly managed, then a myriad of issues can start to arise that may threaten the project objectives if not dealt with swiftly.  For this reason the process of manage stakeholder expectations is there to identify stakeholder issues or concerns in a timely manner, and then to resolve these swiftly in a proactive manner.

Since stakeholders who will exist from the earliest beginnings of a project, then this process will need to be performed from that point until the close of the project.  For this reason, manage stakeholder expectations forms part of the executing process group.

There are six main inputs to the Manage Stakeholder process:

The stakeholder register.

The stakeholder register provides a list of all of the relevant stakeholders as they are the key people that you will be communicating with.  This register lists and describes all of the project stakeholders and classifies them.

Not all stakeholders will need to be treated equally as some of them are more important than others, and he addition, may have more authority or power.  For those reason it is important to list each stakeholder and consider their impact and influence – and hence classify them.

Stakeholder management strategy.

Whenever you see a document called a strategy, then you will know that this describes the ‘how’. What is meant by that manage stakeholder may have a positive or negative outlook for the project, and this document describes how to maximize positive stakeholders and minimize or mitigate those with a negative view of the project.

This information will be helpful in helping to manage stakeholder expectations throughout the project.

Project management plan.

The document of particular interest here is the communications management plan which defines:

  • Who should receive project communications
  • What communications should they receive
  • Who should send the communication
  • How the communication will be sent
  • How often such communication will be updated
  • The definition of common understanding of communication terms

Issue log.

Any issue has the potential to threaten the project objectives, and this is equally so for problems concerning communication.  Issues can both disrupt the performance of the project and also impact manage stakeholder expectations.

The issue log is an important input here as it is where all issues for the project are initially recorded and their progress and ultimate resolution is tracked.

Change log.

Changes can affect any part of the project, and in particular, any potential changes may have an effect on communication aspects and hence can affect state the holder interests.  For these reasons, the changing log is an important input to the process of manage stakeholder expectations.

Organisational process assets.

The environment tools and techniques of communication will be heavily biased by the environment and organisation within which the project is being run.

Organisational process assets which may help to manage stakeholder expectations include:

  • Organisational policies, procedures and guidelines
  • Historical information from previous similar projects
  • Communication aspects of lessons learned
  • Communication templates and distribution lists and that had been particularly useful in previous similar projects

The main outputs from this process must be that of satisfied stakeholders, but as such it is actually the primary objective of this process rather than output.  That said, there are four main outputs from the process of the manage stakeholder expectations:

Organisational process assets updates.

Using the examples stated above, it is likely that such assets may be refined and tuned.  The objective here is to improve such assets in terms of communication approach, tools or techniques to aid future similar projects.

Change requests.

The approach, tools and techniques of communication management may need to be refined or changed as the project progresses.  This output is to present such requests two integrated change control for consideration as to whether or not this requested should be implemented.

Project management plan updates.

This primarily concerns the communications management plan being updated and as a result of progress thus far.  However as a result of communication management changes, there may be updates to other documents within the project management plan.  An example here might be the update of risks or their responses, or a change to the cost baseline as a consequence of modifying the communications management plan.

Project documentation updates.

This follows on from the above point, in that documentation not contained within the project management plan may also need to be modified.  An example here might be the acceptance criteria.

There are three important tools used to manage stakeholder expectations:

Communication methods.

Frankly, the most efficient and effective method is face-to-face the communication, either in a meeting or individually as this has been proven to be the best way to resolve stakeholder communication issues.  As is reflected in best-practice, such communication outcomes should be followed up in writing, for example the sending of an email to summarize agreeing actions and decisions.

Interpersonal skills.

The project manager will be at the centre here in terms of their skills, but this had all also applies to any member of the project team.  These so called the soft skills refer to an individual’s ability to build trust, and deliver any message clearly and positively.

Management skills.

As stated above it is the project managers ability that namely influences manage stakeholder perception about the project.  This reinforces the importance of the project manager to have a solid command of communication, motivation, and leadership skills.

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