Stakeholder-led project management: Communication challenges

Communication challenges

Communication is the core element of stakeholder engagement in projects. All projects, even the smallest stakeholder-neutral project, depend on some form of communication. No project can exist in complete isolation from its stakeholders.

Project managers recognise the need to do communications planning and to have a communications plan. Where the problem appears to lie is in how well communications are designed to meet the specific needs of the project and its stakeholders. Too often, there is a reliance on generic practices and standards, without sufficient challenge or questioning of the appropriateness of the approach:

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The PMO: Promoting best practices in stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder engagement is one of the most important factors in the successful delivery of projects.

pic2On 24th February 2017, the Cape Town PMO forum hosted by PwC deliberated over what role the PMO should play in promoting good stakeholder engagement on projects.

We were conscious that there is a fine line between the PMO facilitating good practices; acting as a broker between the project and its stakeholders; and taking on the role of leader in stakeholder engagement.  The more responsibility the PMO takes, the higher the risk that it disempowers the project and threatens the creation of effective project-stakeholder relationships.  That said – it is clear the PMO has the potential to support and encourage good stakeholder engagement practices.  How to get the balance right?

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Communities of Practice to encourage knowledge sharing in project-based organisations

This month’s ‘Insights’ blog shares lessons from applying a community of practice (CoP) approach to encouraging knowledge sharing across a project community.  While the research examines multiple PMOs in a large global organisation, I feel the insights are also applicable to the single PMO attempting to promote the sharing of best practices and lessons learned in the project manager community.

The paper gives us some insights into the challenges faced in promoting knowledge sharing, the success factors for the formation of an effective community and how you might recognise that your community is maturing (or not).

“If only we knew what we know…”

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The PMO as knowledge broker

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely

Identifying lessons learnt is a necessary part of the project process, not only does this information have the capacity to lighten the workload of the project manager, but it also places the company running the project, in a position of increased competitiveness – however, this is only if the knowledge is actually applied. Unfortunately, the reality confronting many project managers is that once boxes have been ticked and projects completed, it is very rare that this information is accessed and utilised in future projects.

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Project manager: accountable for what?

As a job profiling consultant specialising in project management, I often hear questions like,Responsibility-ahead-Blog-14 ‘Who is responsible for…?’ and ‘Am I responsible for…?’ As questions, they seem straightforward enough, but further consideration reveals the complexity that can underlie them. Perhaps the questioner is just filling an acceptable gap in knowledge, or a check on understanding, but the question may also be reflecting more deep-seated management, or indeed company culture related problems:

  • confusion – nobody is clear who is responsible for what, and therefore who is going to take what action
  • fear – of having to take on responsibilities for which one is not properly equipped
  • anxiety – at having to be accountable for the discharge of the responsibility
  • concern – at the possibility of having to be accountable, without having discharged the responsibility oneself
  • anger – at having to take on responsibility that one feels should be discharged by someone else for a variety of reasons
  • frustration – trying to find out who is responsible in order to get action taken, make a complaint or obtain redress
  • ignorance – of the way in which responsibilities have been delegated or distributed and therefore who should be discharging them
  • obfuscation – when debates about who is responsible result in, or are used to explain, delays and inaction.

Perhaps you recognise some of these?

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Communication to inspire action

Sometimes, communication is not about coordinating stakeholder action, but about inspiring stakeholders to take action of their own accord.  This kind of communication is almost always about capturing hearts and minds—the mobilization and alignment of stakeholders with the achievement of the project outcomes. One of the key questions here is who is the right person, who is best positioned to influence and inspire action?

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