Episode 242: Stakeholder Identification, Engagement & Expectation Management (Premium)
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This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast for The PMI-ACP Exam:
In our first interview with Mario Henrique Trentim (http://br.linkedin.com/in/trentim/) we mainly focused on why stakeholders are important. We didn’t really talk about the how of identifying or engaging stakeholders, nor did we touch on stakeholder management. Let’s do that now.
We will once again open up Mario’s book Managing Stakeholders as Clients and learn about Mario’s approaches, tips, tricks and best practices to identify, engage and manage stakeholders.
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 #242. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at www.project-management-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner.
You are listening to one of our premium episodes. These are recorded for and made available only to our premium subscribers. And that is you. So thank you so much for your support.
In our first interview with Mario Henrique Trentim, we mainly focused on why stakeholders are important. We didn’t really talk about the how of identifying or engaging stakeholders, nor did we touch on stakeholder management. Let’s do that now.
We will once again open Mario’s bookManaging Stakeholders as Clients and learn about Mario’s approaches, tips, tricks and best practices to identify, engage and manage stakeholders.
Well then, would the real stakeholders please rise and identify themselves? 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! Welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™!
Mario Henrique Trentim: Oh thank you, Cornelius. It’s a pleasure to be here again.
Cornelius Fichtner: So we’re still talking about your book “Managing Stakeholders as Clients”. But this time, we want to focus on identification, engagement and expectation management. My first question is quite an obvious one: Why do we need to identify stakeholders? Isn’t it really obvious who is part of our projects?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah, that’s the first step. Sometimes, it is kind of obvious in general terms I think like you know the categories of stakeholders or groups of stakeholders, like governments, like team and so on. But in stakeholder identification, we have to specify who the stakeholders are. For example, team, I have to know all the names of my team members and if possible, I have to understand what are their needs or what is value for them. I had to do this with all stakeholders so I will have a big list, sometimes like 300 stakeholders or maybe 500 stakeholders.
Identification is not an easy step. We usually think that it is an easy step because we think about these categories. But as I said in the previous interview: If you have broad categories of stakeholders and you don’t have their names, you can’t come up with strategies to engage them and to manage their expectations and this will bring a lot of problems in the future. Like you have government and you can have 3 people or 5 people, 10 people that you have to deal to get something for a project, for example, maybe financer project, maybe get permits or something like that. You have to know who these people are. How can I know what I will have to do or what strategy I have to take if I don’t know the names of the stakeholders. So this stakeholder identification should be very specific and it is the first step and a very important step in stakeholder management.
Cornelius Fichtner: Do you personally have a favorite way or a favorite tool and technique that you use for identifying stakeholders.
Mario Henrique Trentim: Well, it depends on the project. I usually use brainstorming. I think it’s easy to use and you can have a good list of stakeholders. But you can also use other tools like expert opinion. Organization analysis is a good tool also. You can check your project documentation, what to have until now like your project charter, scope analysis, lessons learned from other projects.
But I think that brainstorming is very effective. I personally ask for my team members to come up with their own list of stakeholders and we have this meeting to brainstorm and we will share this list and come up with a bigger list and a better list. Then I use this list to identify some key stakeholders like functional manager, a sponsor maybe others who I can interview and ask for more stakeholders. I usually interview my sponsor to ask him or her who they think are stakeholders in our project and this helps a lot. It works great.
Cornelius Fichtner: In your experience, is there a stakeholder that everybody seems to be forgetting on their projects, one particular stakeholder that we forget about?
Mario Henrique Trentim: I think that the one particular stakeholder that we forget is public in general or the community around the project especially in construction and maybe other projects. We have very important role of this public in general. The public opinion and they can even hurt your project and the image of your company also.
Maybe because they are not directly involved in our projects like contractors for example, we tend to forget about them. I think that they can be very demanding sometimes, public in general and community. But they don’t have a lot of power and influence over your project especially in the beginning.
The problem is that stakeholder networks the way they interact are dynamic. So a stakeholder like public in general does not have power and influence but they can convince other stakeholders like government, like other organizations to be against you. So we have to worry not only about the stakeholders that have power and influence but also about other stakeholders who can convince these or persuade these stakeholders to be supportive or not to your project.
Cornelius Fichtner: What are the major differences between how PMI and the PMBOK® Guide does stakeholder identification versus how stakeholder identification is done under the Prince2 framework?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Well PMI I think it’s more process-oriented like best practices guide. I think they have this process for stakeholder management and sometimes it is difficult to use them in practice. You have to change something here and there to make them work.
Prince2 is a methodology and I think it seems more like a holistic approach which I think is better. They have that roles and responsibilities. You have more about culture organization and involved in the technical stakeholders, your supplier and users. I think it is a better approach. It’s more complete. I think that we can merge these 2 approaches and try to come up with a custom approach that works for our organization.
Cornelius Fichtner: Well then, what is your personal approach? Are there any steps that you follow when you identify stakeholders?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Well, first step is to come up with this list as I told you. I usually ask team members to come up with their list of stakeholders. Then we have brainstorming. Then we interview some key stakeholders to have our final list. And this is the first step, identification. But we have then to understand these stakeholders and their needs and what they think is value in this project.
Cornelius Fichtner: Is there any way to make sure that you don’t miss any stakeholders in this process? We talked about the hidden stakeholders in our first interview but can we do anything to make sure that we don’t have hidden stakeholders?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah, that’s difficult. That’s a tough question. You can’t be 100% sure you will have all stakeholders. But I think the trick is to monitor the environment and keep in touch with your stakeholders which I think is something we forget a lot. You keep in touch with your stakeholders, the ones you already identified and they will help you to identify new stakeholders along the way. It’s an ongoing process.
I believe that one of the biggest mistakes is to treat this stakeholder identification and stakeholder management process as a one-time activity. It is not a one-time activity. We will do this all along our projects. We create this initial document, stakeholder register or list, and then we have to make this dynamic. We have to update this document and always be near our stakeholders. Keep in touch with them. Get their commitment. Engage them and have their support.
Cornelius Fichtner: In one chapter of your book, you talk about stakeholder mind mapping. What is stakeholder mind mapping?
Mario Henrique Trentim: Yeah, it’s understanding their minds. We have two meanings in this phrase. It’s like map their minds and we can also map the stakeholders, create the stakeholders map. I think that the first step is map their minds which is get the information we need, understand what they need and come up with the strategies to deal with them.
The second step is to create stakeholder networks which would map our stakeholders and their relationships. So we will understand our stakeholder categories and we will also map and understand what are their common values or some common priorities that we will have groups of stakeholders around these priorities and common values and we will have common strategies to deal with them also. It is an easier way. Because when you have 100 stakeholders or more and it is difficult to deal specifically with each of them. So if they have something in common, we can try to group them and have more efficient strategies.
Cornelius Fichtner: Well we talked about stakeholder management; the activity of managing is not really well defined. For you personally, what does it really mean to manage stakeholder expectations?
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.