Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Identifying Stakeholders: A Key to Project Success

Every project has stakeholders. We've heard that statement countless times, but in reality, it is a key critical factor for project success. Stakeholders are people, groups, and organizations that can influence your project and hold the key for your project success or failure. Joseph Phillips, project management author and consultant bluntly describes stakeholders as follows, "Stakeholders don't think about the integration of project, the challenges of balancing time, cost, scope, the hidden risks, and all the work that happens when no one else is around. Stakeholders are like the gawkers at the finish line of a marathon: they only want to see, and appreciate, the end of the race, not mile 15". A strong debatable statement, but in the end, it is the responsibility of the project manager to build consensus among stakeholders, address concerns and fears, and find a balance between project implementation challenges.

The Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall engaged pm-volunteers.org™ (PM-V), to secure the services of Pietro Widmer, a seasoned and experienced project manager, to support the implementation of their Licensed Pre-school and Daycare Program project. PM-V provides non-profit organizations with a source of skilled, trained and experienced project management resources, enhancing their ability to deliver projects on time, on budget, on scope, while minimizing risk.

Pietro, a consultant with over 15 years of project and program management experience acquired in the aerospace industry, shared his views on identifying stakeholders on the VJLS-JH project. Right off the bat he says that from a project management perspective his initial approach on a new project is to meet with the organization's key people to ascertain who the decision makers are, who supports the project and who are opponents of the project. He makes the case that negative stakeholders must not be ignored, as they can be detrimental to the success of the project. Pietro's positive approach reflects his resolve to address and alleviate fears of negative stakeholders and turn them into champions of the project. The value of a stakeholders list, done correctly, must not be underestimated, as it is the basis for developing a stakeholder management strategy.

Stakeholder involvement is crucial in the planning process as it increases commitment to the project's objectives and processes; it may also decrease mistrust and weariness to become involved in the project. On the role of the project manager, Pietro describes it as someone in the middle, balancing all diverging needs of the different stakeholders. One of the fundamentals for him is, and I quote, "Project management is about people, right?" In the project management constellation, the project manager serves the project in its entirety to achieve the strategic objectives of the organization, an endeavor at the satisfaction of the customer.

Laura Saimoto is a Board member and a Director of the Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall (VJLS-JH). She notes that, "Pietro clearly stated the tangible results that he helped to accomplish in the scope of the project description. As a very credible and sensible outside voice with no attachments, he was able to bring clarity and focus to a context of emotional resistance to change. To sum up, he helped us to work through the fear of change with tangible project management tools. VJLS-JH, and in particular, myself, as project chair, are indebted to Pietro and PM-V for their contribution to helping us achieve our goal of opening a licensed childcare facility".

Pietro's appreciation for involvement in the VJLS-JH project stems from his enjoyment to learn about new domains and to share and apply his project management experience. He says, "This project gave me the opportunity to expand my project management experience in the NFP environment and enabled me to learn more about the Japanese community in Vancouver."

In the final analysis, stakeholder identification is a critical success factor for project success.

by Hylton Ferreira for pm-volunteers.org™

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