Accidental Project Manager Part 4

Accidental Project Manager Series
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

Part 3 of the Accidental Project Manger series talked about making sure you are working on a project that is important to your organization (and to your next promotion) by documenting benefits in a business case.

Another issue you need to manage in your career is managing the project locally and influencing globally. Influence Back What?  Manage: which is directing activities. Influence which is the capability to affect a course of events without any direct effort. Hum: appears to be an oxymoron. Your self discipline, your attention to managing details got you a promotion into managing project work.  Next you need to move to influence global stakeholders to focus on:

  • Right planning
  • Right requirements
  • Right relationship

What is a project stakeholder?

Let’s define stakeholders.  Stakeholders are those who influence the project positively or negatively.  Learning project management is a transition from managing self to influencing others. You need to influence stakeholders. But this sometimes feels like we are running for political office 24×7. How do we easily do it?

Create a Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder analysis is a tool used to identify and enlist support from stakeholders. It provides a visual means of identifying stakeholder support so that you can develop an action plan for your project. They are easy to do. The last stakeholder analysis took me an hour.

You can assess your stakeholders by name or by group by their power and interest. For example: your boss probably has both high interest in the project and high power over it.
So you provide more communication to him and others like him rather than someone with low interest/low power. This is something you automatically do. But what about color coding stakeholders by the value driver that they are interested in. That is a powerful exercise. Are stakeholders interested in revenue growth, or cost efficiencies. You will discover gaps in your project plan or communication plan. Guaranteed! You will discover groups that you offer no project value too– you just need to do no harm during integration with them and need to possibly allow more time in your schedule if you need something from them. It’s better to see this in advance than get in trouble later when you can’t influence them to move faster to help you.

Why Complete A stakeholder Analysis?

You can use the opinions of the most powerful stakeholders to shape your projects at an early stage.
You can anticipate what people’s reaction to your project may be, and build into your plan the actions that will win people’s support.
You can separate those you will approve your project at phase gates, vs. those you just need to ask them for the impacts.  This is a key way to stay lean in a large organization. Caution! Don’t open up approval to a large group of stakeholders, but certainly keep them informed.

Success Factor

Again, with all this insight provided:it would seem like stakeholder analysis would be more prevalent. For success as a project manager, you need to gather this information from the stakeholder before you begin to gather requirements from the users.  As an individual contributor, you may feel more comfortable with the clearer task of gathering requirements from users; however, you will not be prepared for the political tradeoffs you need to make before you commit your plan in a phase gate.

Acceleration Factor

Change your thinking; you no longer have direct lines of reporting. You have dotted lines of influence. Learning project management is a transition from execution to evaluation.  Your focus on excellence on task completion got you this promotion but you need to transition to task context and evaluating why you are doing the projects you are assigned. By engaging the right people in the right way in your project, you can make a big difference to its success… and to your career

See Part 5 for another strategy to improve your project performance.

Rosemary Hossenlopp, MBA PMP © 2008 All Rights Reserved

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