Project Management: 3 Keys to Working with Stakeholders

by Ty Kiisel, @task - A good working relationship between a professional golfer and his or her caddie is a critical component to a successful tour. A good caddie is a valuable asset to a professional golfer, and often receives a percentage of the winnings as part of their compensation. On the course, the caddie has a number of responsibilities that include:

1. Ensuring that the proper number of clubs are in the bag

2. Helping in the selection of clubs for specific shots

3. Informing the golfer of pin placements for each hole on the course

4. Alerting the golfer to where a good spot to hit any particular shot would be, and if they miss, where to miss

5. Helping read puts if needed

[ Project Management: 4 Questions To Ask Before Starting Any Project ]

A great caddie will have walked the course and knows everything there is to know about the softness of the turf, the condition of the sand traps, and has personally paced off the yardage for each hole. This information allows the caddie to provide information the golfer needs to play the best round of golf possible. (Although I’m not sure a caddie would help my performance on the golf course.)

Throughout the course of a project, it’s often decisions made by stakeholders that make the difference between a successful project and one that fails. Sometimes the importance of stakeholders in the success of project-based work is overlooked. However, it’s vital to keep all the stakeholders informed with the most timely and reliable information possible so they can make well-informed project decisions. The following three tips will help promote a productive and ongoing dialog with stakeholders:

1. Ensure that stakeholders, sponsors, change agents, and champions, are involved and in agreement throughout the project

2. Guide the decision makers through the key steps to success and make sure they are applied consistently throughout the project

3. Keep stakeholder’s decision-making efforts based on the best practice areas that have helped other projects deliver successfully to achieve the desired results

Managing stakeholders is an ongoing process and critical for work management success. Successful project management requires diligence, persistence, and tact when working with stakeholders. Not unlike the relationship between a professional golfer and caddie, the biggest benefit to keeping stakeholders in the loop is an increase in stakeholder collaboration and a more successful portfolio of projects.

Because this is a challenge for every project team, please share some of the techniques you’ve found successful in dealing with project sponsors.

Ty Kiisel writes about project management issues and best practices for @task Project Management Software.

For more project management tips, see:
Project management: Scrapping a doomed project
Four things project managers can learn from base coaches
Prioritizing IT projects

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