Episode 241: Why Worry about Stakeholders on your Project? (Free)
This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast for The PMI-ACP Exam:
Recent research shows that project success often hinges on the ability of us project managers to meet and exceed stakeholder expectations. While this may not be a new revelation to seasoned project managers it still means that there is a new focus on stakeholder management in our profession.
Mario Henrique Trentim (http://br.linkedin.com/in/trentim/) decided to put his experience and expertise on the subject in writing and wrote the book Managing Stakeholders as Clients. It is a practitioner’s guide that blends theory and practice for the rest of us.
I’ve invited Mario to tell us why we should worry about the stakeholders on our project. As always when we have an author on the program we will talk less about the book itself, and focus more on his tips, tricks, best practices and Mario’s favorite tools to get the job done.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #241. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at www.project-management-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Nice to have you with us.
Recent research shows that project success often hinges on the ability of us project managers to meet and exceed stakeholder expectations. While this may not be a new revelation to seasoned project managers, it still means that there is a new focus on stakeholder management in our profession.
Mario Henrique Trentim decided to put his experience and expertise on the subject in writing and wrote the book “Managing Stakeholders as Clients”. It is a practitioner’s guide that blends theory and practice for the rest of us.
I’ve invited Mario to tell us today why we should worry about the stakeholders on our project. As always when we have an author on the program, we will talk less about the book itself, and focus more on his tips and tricks and best practices, as well as Mario’s favorite tools to get the job done.
So get out your binoculars and follow me into the jungle of project management. We are going to find us some stakeholders. Enjoy the interview.
Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Mario Henrique Trentim, author and PMO Manager.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Mario and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™!
Mario Henrique Trentim: Hello, Cornelius. It’s my pleasure to be here with you and your listeners.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So we want to talk about your book: “Managing Stakeholders as Clients”. First question for you: How do you personally define the term ‘stakeholder’?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah. Well, the traditional definition is that people or groups who may impact or influence or be influenced by a project. I personally define them as friends or foes like your friends are your enemies. I mean, they are either are with you or against you in your project and you want to have more allies than enemies. Otherwise if they are not your friends or they are not your enemies and maybe they are not your stakeholders. They are not related to your project. I think it is easier it to remember like this, enemies or allies.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! I’ve never heard it turn and said in quite that way. That’s an interesting way of defining it. Now let’s go completely somewhere else. Let’s go over to the PMBOK® Guide. Because your book about stakeholders, is the fact that you wrote this book in any way related to the fact that the new PMBOK® Guide Fifth Edition has a new stakeholder management knowledge area in it? Is there any connection?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Well actually I started writing this book in 2011 as a result of some research we were doing here about the project success factors. It was a great surprise to know that PMI after the last year, it included the stakeholder area in the PMBOK. It seems that we are in the right way.
But the main reason of writing the book was that we were having a lot of problems in some complex and large projects and we found that the main reason was stakeholder management. It was linked to communications, to risks and other areas but everything was very related to stakeholders. So we started researching this and trying to come up with a framework or some best practices that would help us in managing stakeholders.
Cornelius Fichtner: From your experience, who are the most important 3 stakeholders on a project?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah, I think that the 3 most important stakeholders are the client, the sponsor and the team. The client can be internal client or an external client. We usually have projects to solve their problems or to fulfill their needs and seize an opportunity or something like that. We had to get requirement from them. We have to understand their needs and they have a lot of power in our project so I think they are the number one.
Then we need a good sponsor that would be the second most important I think because we need to corporate support to our projects and we need resources. We need to be aligned with business strategy and a powerful sponsor who is engaged in our project is something really important.
Then your team will be other group of stakeholders, very important because they actually do the job. We have to motivate them. We have to be like a leader, sometimes like a teacher, sometimes like also a father and I had to deal with these people so that we can have the job done and also we can have happy stakeholders in the end.
Cornelius Fichtner: And by team, you are referring to the people who do the work on your project, right?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah, right.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. In your book, you also talked about hidden stakeholders. Who are hidden stakeholders?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah, by hidden stakeholders, I mean the ones that we didn’t identify. They usually pop up at the worst time possible and they had their demands and they can even queue your projects sometimes. Actually we know a lot of categories of stakeholders like sponsor or team, contractors and so on but in stakeholder management, it is important as in risk management that we know their names like government is my stakeholder. So what can I do about that?
I have to know who like a person or a group is this stakeholder. For example, government, the city government and the name is Julie. She is responsible for our some permit or something. Then I know the name of our stakeholder and I know what I need to get from them and they have to discover what their need is also and I what I have to offer them. Then we can make up our strategies to deal with them. So I think that these hidden stakeholders are people that should be involved, people or groups, that we should talk to them and sometimes you forget to identify them properly and this can bring a lot of problems in the future.
Cornelius Fichtner: So are hidden stakeholders a sign of lack in identifying stakeholders?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah, sometimes it can be. It is difficult to identify all the stakeholders. Sometimes we forget some of them. We have to try to identify most of our stakeholders and then we have to go on doing this all along our projects. It’s like a process.
You start identifying stakeholders in the beginning of your project and we will do this all over until the end. We have to identify them. We have to engage them. Discover their needs and make them committed, supporting our projects. And we will discover other stakeholders along the way. So we will do the same. Identify, make up our strategies and keep them engaged.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright. Next to hidden stakeholders in your book, you also differentiate between internal stakeholders and external stakeholders. Tell us a little bit about those.
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah. Internal stakeholders are the stakeholders that are inside our organization. In external, the stakeholders that are outside. The difference in managing or dealing with internal stakeholders and external stakeholders is that when we deal with external stakeholders usually we have to be more formal. It’s like public relations to deal with community or public in general. We have contracts and legal aspects to deal with contractors, suppliers and others. It’s more difficult to deal with this external stakeholders in a way because of this formality and because they are not so close to us as the internal stakeholders. But we have also to take care of our internal stakeholders like our team, other functional managers, the sponsor, senior management and everybody inside the organization because we need their support. We will need their resources also.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Now that we understand all of these and this is where we come back to the title of this interview: Why should we worry about these stakeholders on our project? What makes them so important?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah, I think that the reason PMI included this new area is that we are understanding now that stakeholders are very important in our projects and I read recently the latest PMI Pulse of the Profession navigating complexity. They talked a lot about stakeholders. We have larger projects, more complexity and a large number of stakeholders. They are very important because they are involved in different areas in our projects like requirements, like resources, like legal aspects, like image of our company, public in general for example and they can help us a lot if we show them the value of our projects but they can also be against our projects and they can kill our projects. We saw a lot of case studies of projects that failed because of stakeholder management, because of bad stakeholder management.
Cornelius Fichtner: Yes, you mentioned in the beginning of our interview that you yourself had problems with stakeholder management. That was one of the reasons why you wrote your book. Let’s take a look at that briefly. Once you understood that the reason why your projects did not go so well was stakeholder management and you changed your approach, did that improve the results on your projects?
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.