A Stakeholder Engagement Plan is an absolute must for most IT system development projects. However, few IT providers think to create an engagement sub-plan for each identified stakeholder listed in the Stakeholder Register.
As a follow-on to my previous article, “5 Stakeholder Types and How to Engage Them,” a useful exercise is to categorize the stakeholders according to the following grid. Then a specific Stakeholder Engagement (sub)Plan can be developed for each stakeholder in the grid.
(Note: You can read about the Power/Interest stakeholder assessment tool in the article, “Stakeholder Analysis – A Practical Example from a Successful Project.”
In the grid, Stakeholder 1 is low power/low interest, and also unaware. The engagement plan for this individual may be to provide an orientation to the project and call on him for minor items that he is able to address.
Stakeholder 2 is low power/high interest, and ambivalent. That is, he is interested in how the project objectives might affect his organization, but is not motivated to participate in ensuring positive outcomes. The plan for this stakeholder might be to call upon his highest areas of self-interest and assign tasks that have direct positive results for his organization.
Stakeholder 3 in this example is high power/high interest, and actively engaged. This is the most effective stakeholder that a project could possibly wish for (assuming his inclination to take charge can be moderated). The engagement plan for this stakeholder would be to keep him as engaged as his schedule will allow him to be and consulting him on important matters, while ensuring he understands the scope of his role and responsibilities on the project..
Several years ago I was tasked with “stopping the bleed” on a project that had gone off the rails. Within hours of coming onsite, it was evident that one of the major issues was the client’s primary stakeholder. Per the above grid, she was high power/high interest, but actively unsupportive.
Apparently she was displeased with the proposal review process. The reviewers had selected our firm over a competitor, which was the firm that she favored.
Our Project Manager had never created a Stakeholder Engagement Plan, and he certainly had not developed a strategy to deal with this stakeholder. We were inclined to request her removal from the project, though by then much of the damage had been done. Our project team had been so focused on technology and process, that they never paid attention to the people aspects of managing the project delivery.
We paid dearly.
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