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Author: Elyse, PMP, CPHIMS
January 29, 2007

Frankly, miscommunication can quickly derail a project. Miscommunication commonly takes place when people issues are mishandled. Stakeholder management illustrates how to manage communications with stakeholders focusing on the needs of the stakeholders and the issues that arise from the stakeholders. The project manager is normally responsible for stakeholder management.

The inputs for managing stakeholders are:

  • Communications Management Plan - The Communications Management Plan outlines how project communications will be addressed. It describes the frequency and medium for communications, and identifies those responsible for communicating with stakeholders. It specifies stakeholders' requirements and expectations. This plan should contain the best methods for communication with the stakeholders that have been bought into, agreed, are realistic, and formal.
  • Organizational process assets - Organizational process assets are any or all process-related assets which can influence the project's success. Team members need to know the company's processes and procedures in order to understand how these assets will influence and affect the project. Organizational process assets commonly include: documented lessons learned, policies and procedures, guidelines, and best practices.

The inputs to the Manage Stakeholders process provide critical information about what processes to follow when communicating with stakeholders.

There are two tools and techniques used in managing stakeholders. These tools and techniques are:

  1. Communication methods - Communication methods are listed in the communication management plan. Commonly face to face meetings are the most effective way for communications after all body language is a very telling means of communication. However there are times when face to face meetings are a luxury which can’t be justified. In these situations possible communication methods are: traditional mail, electronic mail, phone calls, an extranet site, ftp site, Internet meeting, face-to-face meeting, or videoconferencing.
  2. Issues log – The issues logs is a document which can be used to facilitate communication. An issues log documents project issues and relays how these issues get resolved. The project manager clarifies each issue, identifies a person accountable for resolving the issue, and sets a target date for resolution of the issue. This is a great reference tool that provides details that normally might get lost with the passing of time. Having an issues log will prove invaluable when communicating with others about their concerns. From a single source of truth perspective, it is best to have only one issues log per project. Having 3 people keep 3 different issues logs is just added unnecessary confusion.

Understanding what communication methods to use and knowing how to monitor and document issues helps project managers effectively manage stakeholders and keep their projects on course. Can you imagine being on a project where everyone communicates every which way with no formal issues system? Shivering yet?

The result of managing stakeholders will be actions, documentation, and updates to existing documents or procedures. The resulting process outputs are:

  • Resolved Issues – Resolved issues are the stakeholder requirements which have been identified and resolved.
  • Approved Change Requests – Approved change requests are derived from the resolution of stakeholder issues which lead to changes in the project plan and activities. These changes have all gone through the formal integrated change control process.
  • Approved Corrective Actions – Approved corrective actions are actions which will brng the project back to task with expectations and objectives detailed in the Project Management Plan.
  • Organizational Process Assets – Organizational Process Assets that are updated due to outcomes from stakeholder management. These commonly are lessons learned documentation including the root cause of the issue, the reasoning behind the corrective action chosen, and other types of lessons leaned during stakeholder management.
  • Project Management Plan (updates) – Updates to communication management plan are reflected in the Project Management Plan.

The most critical output of the Manage Stakeholders process is that the issues get resolved and that solutions are put into place effectively. Issue resolution means project progression.

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