The Manage Stakeholder Expectations process uses communication and interpersonal skills to keep stakeholders satisfied and engaged in the project and to uncover, address, and resolve stakeholder issues.
Activities in this communication process execute the stakeholder management strategy as defined in Identify Stakeholders Process (10.1).
Active involvement in the project by stakeholders is one of the key success factors identified in the Standish Group’s CHAOS report.
Nothing can derail a project faster than a loss of stakeholder support, which is often caused by a lack of communication, miscommunication, or a lack of follow-through on issues.
The project manager is the one ultimately responsible for managing stakeholders but that doesn't mean that it's only the project manager who communicates with the stakeholders.
Everyone on the project team should understand good stakeholder relations and how to communicate appropriately with them.
The communications management plan provides the details and responsibilities for regular stakeholder communications based on their expectations and needs, but it should also contain strategies for ad-hoc stakeholder issues.
Managing expectations primarily involves making sure that the visions of stakeholders are aligned with the project’s deliverables and the project management service level.
The art of managing stakeholders relies on a mix of political acumen, people skills, management skills, and excellent communication skills.
These skills are especially important because resolving stakeholder issues does not always mean satisfying the original request or issue as stipulated by the stakeholder.
Rather, resolving issues often means reaching a mutually agreeable outcome to the issue.
And it means responsibly, honestly, and directly dealing with stakeholders whose issues can't be addressed to their satisfaction.
Staying on top of ad-hoc issues can be difficult, so it’s important that all stakeholder and project team issues be properly logged, assigned responsibility for resolution, and their dispositions communicated.
This is done through the issue log. The issue log is for ad-hoc, actionable items that don’t warrant a defined project activity.
Issue log items are usually not directly tied to a project deliverable but are instead needed to maintain a good working relationship between team members or stakeholders.
Managing stakeholders isn't a one-time event.
It will occur throughout the project life cycle, and it's especially important that it doesn't get overlooked once project execution is underway nor should this process occur only when there are negative events or issues.
Keeping the project stakeholders engaged and informed about the project even when things are running as planned can help control the situation should the project run into difficulties.
When issues do come up that cannot easily be resolved, face-to-face meetings are the most effective way for them to be addressed.
Though not always practical due to geographical or time constraints, e-mails, phone calls, electronic meetings, and other forums can be just as effective when used properly.
Manage Stakeholder Expectations Process Decomposition
Manage Stakeholder Expectations Process: Inputs
- Stakeholder register:
The stakeholder register identifies all project stakeholders and contains attributes such as the person's name, title, position, project interest, expectations, and influence.
- Stakeholder management strategy:
This document describes the approach that will be taken to maintain or increase the support of stakeholders in the project or to mitigate the risks or remove the obstacles that negative stakeholders can cause.
- Project management plan:
The communications management plan, a subsidiary component of the project management plan, contains all the details about how stakeholders expectations and needs will be addressed.
- Issue log:
The issue log is a written document that helps manage project issues relating to stakeholders, including project team members.
The change log tracks all requested changes to any component of the project.
It includes a full description of the proposed change, including assessment information about the change, such as impact, cost, time, and risk.
Proposed changes and their final disposition need fully communicated to applicable stakeholders.
- Organizational process assets:
Templates, such as for issue tracking, are often available. The organization may also have procedures and guidelines for issues and change management.
Manage Stakeholder Expectations Process: Tools and Techniques
- Communication methods:
Communication methods are how information is shared.
It includes meetings, conversations, presentations, and conferences.
- Interpersonal skills:
Strong interpersonal skills are needed to build and maintain a constructive and healthy relationship with the stakeholders.
- Management skills:
Good management skills, such as negotiating and communicating, help to build effective relationships.
Manage Stakeholder Expectations Process: Outputs
- Organizational process assets updates:
Lessons learned from the Manage Stakeholder Expectations process become part of the organization’s knowledge base.
- Change requests:
This process may result in the need to adjust the stakeholder management strategy or uncover the need for corrective or preventative actions.
- Project management plan updates:
This process may identify a need for a change to the communications management plan.
- Project document updates:
The issue log is updated to reflect new issues or updates to issues already identified. Other project documents that may be updated include the stakeholder register and stakeholder management strategy.