The publication of the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition is a major boost for stakeholder management. The introduction of Chapter 13, Project Stakeholder Management as a distinct knowledge area raises the importance of engaging stakeholders to the same level as all other PM ‘knowledge areas’. Ideally the new section would have been placed next to the closely aligned process of communication management but this is not to be – the PMBOK is expanded by adding new chapters to the end.
The four processes follow the familiar PMBOK pattern with a few differences. They are:
- 13.1 Identify Stakeholders – identifying everyone affected by the work or its outcomes.
- 13.2 Plan Stakeholder Management – deciding how you will engage with the stakeholders.
- 13.3 Manage Stakeholder Engagement – communicating with stakeholders and fostering appropriate stakeholder engagement
- 13.4 Control Stakeholder Engagement – monitoring the overall relationships and adjusting your strategies and plans as needed.
The 5 stages of our ‘Stakeholder Circle’ methodology are embedded within these processes; the key steps in the ‘Stakeholder Circle’ are:
- Identify – the primary purpose of 13.1 with very similar objectives.
- Prioritize – This is mentioned in 13.1 (Identification) without any real assistance on an effective approach to this important task. The PMBOK recognises most projects are going to be resource constrained and should focus its engagement activities on the important stakeholders but that’s all – options to calculate a meaningful prioritisation is missing. See more on prioritisation.
- Visualize – This is also included in 13.1 (Identification) based on a simple 2 x 2 matrix. A number of options are listed including power/interest, power/influence, and the influence/impact grids. The Salience model developed by Mitchell, Agle, and Wood 1997 is also mentioned without attribution.In reality to properly understand your stakeholders you need to understand significantly more than two simple aspects of a relationship. The ‘Stakeholder Circle’ diagram was adapted from the Salience model to help teams really appreciate who matters and why. This will be the subject of another post in a couple of day’s time.
- Engage – the primary purpose of 13.2 (Plan engagement) and 13.3 (Implementing the communication plan). Separating planning and implementation is a good idea. The planning process uses an engagement matrix similar to the tool built into the ‘Stakeholder Circle’ – However, whilst the PMBOK looks at the attitude of each stakeholder (both current and desired) it omits the key consideration of how receptive the stakeholder is likely to be to project communication. If the stakeholder does not want to communicate with you the challenge of changing his/her attitude is a whole lot harder and the missing priority level lets you know how important this is.
- Monitor and Review – whilst this is the focus of 13.4, the assumption of review and adjustment is a statusing process. Our experience suggests the dynamic nature of a stakeholder community requires the whole cycle starting with the identification of new and changed stakeholders to be repeated at regular intervals of 3 or 6 months (or at major phase changes).
As mentioned at the beginning, the introduction of a separate knowledge area for stakeholder management is a huge advance and should contribute to improving the successful delivery of projects – PMI are to be congratulated on taking this step!
However, unlike most other areas of the PMBOK, the processes outlined in this 5th Edition are likely to be less than adequate for major projects. As soon as there are more than 20 or 30 stakeholders to assess and manage, the tools described in this version will be shown to be inadequate and more sophisticated methodologies will be needed.
For other posts on the new PMBOK 5th Edition see: https://stakeholdermanagement.wordpress.com/category/pmbok-5th-edition/