Educating Stakeholders

Wouldn’t it be nice if the pathway to executive management required a few tours of duty as a project manager?  The majority of today’s executives have heard of project management but possess just cursory knowledge of the subject, yet they end up on stakeholder project/program governance committees unsure as to what their role should be and how they can assist the project team.

An educational program is essential for new or inexperienced stakeholders, regardless of their position in the organizational hierarchy. Four items that should be discussed in this course are shown in Exhibit 1.

Exhibit 1 Stakeholder Education Topics

The first item is expectations. Stakeholders must clearly delineate their expectations of the project to the project/program team.  This includes topics such as final benefits, value, alignment to the corporate business/strategic objectives, the reason why the project is being conducted and any other expectations related to personal and professional conduct.

The second item involves high level performance verification. This requires that the stakeholders work with the project/program team at the onset of the effort, and come to an agreement regarding the high level metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that need to be identified, measured, monitored and reported. It is possible that each stakeholder on the governance committee may require a unique set of metrics.

The third item involves delegation. Sitting on a governance committee is not the same as providing leadership to a functional empire, and sometimes, this point is forgotten by the people that reside on oversight committees. The governance committee must retain the authority to approve scope changes above a certain dollar value, provide additional funding when necessary, and be willing to terminate the project if the business value is not there.   The project/program team must maintain the baselines as governance committee involvement in baseline adjustments may be an invitation for executive level micromanagement.

The fourth item is health checks. Governance committees must be familiar with the tell-tale signs that a project/program is in trouble and understand how and when to perform health checks.  This type of course can be completed in less than two hours and the benefits certainly outweigh the cost.


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