Project Manager’s Role When Managing Stakeholders

When Managing Stakeholders a Project Manager Should

Being a project manager is a very hectic and fast-paced role. From managing teams to projects to stakeholders, a project manager has to wear many hats. To be a project manager one has to have a varied skill set including many soft skills and hard skills. Today’s topic- Project Manager’s Role When Managing Stakeholders.

The most important skill a project manager needs is people skills. As a project manager, you will have to manage the company’s expectations and the stakeholders’ expectations, which includes many meetings, getting people to agree to the same thing, and making sure that everyone feels heard and satisfied.

What is a project manager?

Project managers are those individuals that lead the ideation process, planning, and execution of a project and they also monitor and control the entire process from the start to the finish. Most project managers have a team with various skills and experience. Project managers are responsible for the management of the project including the resources, budget, and scope of the project as well as the allocation of the same.

What are the responsibilities of a project manager?

The responsibilities of the project manager will span the entire project life cycle, each stage having specific responsibilities and requirements. The job requires as much intuition as it does hard skills. The responsibilities are but are not limited to:

  • Planning various stages of the project and the end requirements of each
  • Develop a project management plan with the team and stakeholders
  • Delegating to team members
  • Assign a schedule to individuals
  • Estimate how much time will be assigned to a stage and process
  • Risk management and mitigation strategies
  • Manage stakeholder expectations of the project
  • Oversee the entire project life cycle
  • Allot time, capital, resources, and people optimally
  • Communicate what needs to be done to the team very clearly
  • Make sure that the integration of stages of the project life cycle is seamless
  • Establish communication between the team and eth stakeholders

What are the various project management structures companies use?

There are three main types of project management structures that companies use:

  • Functional organizational structure
  • Matrix organizational structure
  • Projectized organizational structure

The type of organization structure depends on many factors like,

  • Company strategy
  • Employees and type of tasks
  • Technology used
  • Size of the company
  • Location and the environment of the industry
  • Managerial objectives and requirements, etc.

How to become a project manager?

To be able to lead and manage a team with varied expertise, a project manager has to be qualified with a wide range of skill sets. The project manager, after all, is the one accountable for the entire project, its planning and execution. Any mistake or blunder made by anyone in the team will have to be either corrected by the project manager or handled by them.

Having a management degree is not the only way to be a project manager, anyone with experience and knowledge about the industry or niche, its practices, and strong organizational skills can also apply for a project management job.

For example: if one had worked as a game developer or animator and has good management and communication skills, has foundational knowledge about the entire gaming project life cycle, then they too can apply for a gaming project management position.

While a bachelors’ in project management or business administration or other relevant subjects, is really the basic requirement, it does not hurt to work under a project manager for a few years or have a masters’.

There are also certifications that one can complete to qualify for a job, like,

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Certified Project Director
  • Certified Project Management Practitioner (CPMP)
  • Certified Project Manager (CPM)
  • Master Project Manager (MPM)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

Skills needed to be a project manager?

There are many soft skills and hard skills that a project manager will have to be proficient in, and many lateral skills that they will have to have a foundation in.

  1. Analytical: being able to find patterns in information and numbers is very important. Since the project manager will be making all the important decisions of the project based on information or research provided by the project team, the project manager will have to have a sharp mind when it comes to understanding data and how to implement strategies based on the information given.
  1. Organizational: handling and planning a project is a very small part of the job. A big part of the job is organizing various resources between different stages of the life cycle of the product. A project manager will need to be well versed with the team member’s skills and limitations to best assign tasks and delegate work. 
  1. Strong intuition: while there are formulae and techniques that a project manager can use, including AI and algorithms, to best determine the chances of success, intuition or instinct will also come in handy. No matter how much advancement a prediction software has made, nothing will beat your gut feeling, that will let you know if things will work out or not. Trust your instincts and that of your teammates.
  1. Project management software: project management software allows a project manager to plan the project in its various stages, allocate resources and budget and assign resources as well as what team member handles what task. Such software makes it easier to monitor and manage big teams and various projects, it also makes the transfer of documents and changing any requirements or objectives easier without having to alert the team individually. Some examples of project management software are Basecamp, Zoho projects, Trello, 
  1. Documentation: this is possibly one of the most important things a project manager has to focus on. Documentation is absolutely crucial when it comes to monitoring a project. This is a record of all things that are related to the project. Its budget, capital spent, resources used, supplies consumed, reports of all stages and the time taken for each, plans for risk management, cost management, etc.

How to manage teams?

A project manager will have to handle anywhere from 3 employees to a few ten’s, and from 1 project to several projects. Being organized and building and managing an effective team will make your work easier in the long run.

  1. Choose the right person: a person’s limitations along with their expertise will determine how well they fit into the team. Each member will have to get along with the others and maintain a good professional relationship. Take great care when forming a team, if the project manager chooses individuals that they know would not work well with the team or have limitations that will hinder the completion of the project to finish the interview process fathers, then problems will arise later concerning the team and the individual. Be selective and highly critical when choosing a team member.
  1. Recognize achievements: set deadlines and quality checks and recognize when a member of the team does well. It is important for the team morale of the project manager to recognize and mention their hard work and achievements. A reward system is shown to improve relations and mental health between the members of the team. Be sure to voice each member’s contribution to make them feel appreciated and needed. Remember that a happy employee is an employee that works well.
  1. Create open communication: establish two-way communication with your team like you would do with the stakeholders. The communication between you and the team should be open, honest, and clear. Your team members should be able to approach and voice out any difficulties that they may face and seek help for any issues that might occur. Open communication is important when working in teams because one issue might compromise the entire project, no matter whose fault it is. So your employee should be able to tell you if any problem occurs without fear.

What do you mean by stakeholders?

A stakeholder is an individual or another company that invests resources, either money, time, or work, and in return receives compensation. The stakeholders of a company can be both external and internal. It includes investors, employees, customers, and suppliers as well as trade associations, related government departments, and communities.

However, in the context of the project manager, the stakeholders are the financiers and investors of the project and other individuals with a vested interest in the success of the project such as other companies, etc.

An external stakeholder does not directly interact with the company or the project management team but is affected by the outcomes of the company. Examples are suppliers and public groups.

An internal stakeholder is one who either works with the company or directly interacts with the company. Like employees, the chairperson board, etc.

How do you manage stakeholders?

Muck like how each person has different methods to do something and has their own ideas that they want to be implemented, stakeholders are the same. Each stakeholder has an idea of how the product should be developed and run as well as how it should be done.

As a project manager, you must be able to manage company expectations, employees’ expectations, the project team’s expectations, and stakeholder’s expectations. Everything should be completed on time with the companies’ vision and mission in mind. The product that results from the project life cycle should be of good quality and should align with the companies’ objectives and the stakeholder’s objectives.

This is why clear and understandable communication is the key to be a great project manager. Everyone must be on the same page connecting the end product and how it should be achieved. People skills are as important as communication is. You might be a great communicator however if you cannot handle people and teams then this job might not be for you.

Tips to manage stakeholders

Remember that the project manager is the communication link between the stakeholder and the project team. The project manager will have to manage the expectations of the stakeholder and what the team has the capacity to deliver.

  1. Identify stakeholders: each project will have different stakeholders each iterating with the project team in different capacities. At the beginning of each project identify all stakeholders, their objectives, and expectations. This will help the project manager to understand what strategy to use to help placate any disagreements.
  1. Establish deliverables and time constraints: communicate the stages of the project and the requirement in each stage as well as the estimate on the time that will be taken to complete each stage and what objective each stage will achieve. Highlight that the estimates of the time taken to complete each stage might vary depending on issues that may arise or any changes to the project or objectives. Establish some soft time constraints and hard constraints about major development stages in the process, this gives some amount of flexibility in timing and scheduling.
  1. Engage stakeholders with the process: including stakeholders in the process of the project development will result in close and personalized communication. If a relationship can be established with the stakeholder, it becomes easier to voice out issues and solve them easily.
  1. Be concise but amicable: any and all communications should be clear, there should be no margin for misunderstanding or doubts between the project team and the stakeholders. However, take extra care when communicating with stakeholders, especially when you know that they might not like what you have to say. Since stakeholders more often than not finance the project and can repeat from other projects it is important to not be seen as harsh and unyielding. The project manager should be seen as a friend and a partner. If any stakeholder has a problem, then they might take the project elsewhere. 
Project Manager’s Role When Managing Stakeholders

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