To better understand the experience of project managers managing stakeholder relationships on projects, we surveyed 115.
Why people are motivated invest their time in engaging stakeholders
What stops people from engaging stakeholders?
What people wish they knew more about stakeholder management
Why do you do stakeholder management?
Project management often talks about stakeholder management. But what motivates people to do it?
It is a tedious and difficult task that we don’t get enough training for as project managers. It’s often just a few slides from a project management course that encourages us to complete a stakeholder list.
Stakeholder management is a motivating activity for project managers. It’s worthwhile to ensure that your projects run smoothly. Respondents to the survey said that they do it because:
It helps to secure project resources (71%)
It increases the likelihood that your project will be viewed as a success (69%)
It helps to manage project risk (68%)
It encourages the team to do the work you ask them to (63%)
This makes it easier for the operational team to handover the project at the end, knowing what is coming (43%)
Some people admitted to doing it only because the textbooks tell them so (7%). There were many other reasons, too:
It helps me understand their needs
It aligns expectations and requirements
It helps me keep control of my projects
It allows me to provide a high-quality product
It helps me to align communication with accountability to individual stakeholders
It reduces political tension
More smiles, less tears
My boss wants me to do it.
There’s nothing like an anonymous survey to get some honesty!
What is stopping you from engaging stakeholders?
I have analyzed the results of this section more closely and here are the definitive answers to that question.
I don’t have time (48%)
I don’t have templates (27%)
I don’t know where to start (23%)
This shocker is:
I don’t have management support (45%).
I conducted a few interviews to validate the survey responses. One interviewee laughed when I said that many people were saying they didn’t have time. He said, “You make time to do what is important.” “That’s just an excuse.”
I must say, I agree. If you believe stakeholders are important to the success and growth of your project, which you may not, then you should make an effort to bring them along to this project.
Another excuse is not having the templates for stakeholder management. However, if you ticked that box it might seem like I was trying trick you since it was one of your answers to the questionnaire. Sorry, I didn’t expect such high responses!
Templates can be found in many places, including your colleagues, your PMO, and me. I also have a set that is ready-to-go templates to help you get started quickly.
In this set of results, my surprise response was that I didn’t have management support. If you feel that this is you, you should include your manager to your stakeholder group. They need to understand why stakeholder engagement is important.
This category also included people who said that nothing was stopping them (awesome) and responses such as these:
Time constraints for stakeholders
Accessing the stakeholders was not possible (this was brought up a few times).
Organization for Immature
Stakeholders want others to do their work (so they don’t understand their role or need to be involved).
What do you want to learn about stakeholder management?
The mix of responses to previous questions was quite interesting, from project managers who were clearly very adept at managing stakeholder relations in the office to those working in organizations where stakeholder administration was somewha