Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Stake Your Project Claim

~ By Laura Bamberg

Designer working at a computer

After recent conversations with a friend about waffling company policies on projects, my head was whirling. I wondered how you manage a project without the stakeholders' approval or buy-in.

As a short side note, the project sponsor can sometimes be the customer, but ostensibly, it's the person paying for the project. The stakeholders include anyone affected by your project. The project team, the sponsor(s), the end-user, these people are all a part of the project.

In my friend's company, the sales representatives sometimes create quotes based in large part on what the customers want, and not always on what their products can do. The next step in the process is a layer of approval from several colleagues, and in many cases, the sales representative in question has to go back to the customer and renegotiate. You can imagine how the customer feels.

What's worse, at times, the deal is so tightly made already that the company is compelled to almost entirely re-do their own products or services to customise the needs of one client. All you project managers out there are cringing, aren't you?

Either way, a lot of people in this company are frustrated most of the time. Rarely can the project manager actually close a project on time, because there are too many changes and delays along the way. The project team is constantly being shifted about, forced to sacrifice the product's quality at times.

Hopefully, this doesn't hit close to home for you. This blog could accommodate a lot of project management verbiage, but for today I'd like to focus on stakeholders. What are their expectations, and how in the world could a company that operates at this level of mayhem meet them?

Be Firm

Many projects begin with the stakeholders' expectations making you feel frustrated and overwhelmed. How can you ensure they're all completed? The short answer is - many times you can't. At some point, a line has to be drawn, and on it are written the words - this is as far as we're willing to go. We don't have the resources to do everything you want. But we're glad to have your suggestions - we can definitely keep this in mind for future projects. I bet that graphics idea (which would take about a year to implement) could be used in part on our next version.

Be up-front with your stakeholders. Let them know that before the project plan is implemented, you need to know what they want, but you also need them to know that you can't promise them everything.

Use Metrics

Not only do you need to collect your stakeholder requirements - you need to be able to turn them into project management metrics. Here at Steelray, we're very focused on metrics for our own business needs. They can be pretty useful if they're truly measurable.

As an example, suppose your project involves developing a new industrial pressure treatment for wood. Stakeholder requirements could sound something like this: Does it look good? Is it easy to use? Over the course of the project, many more could be added.

You definitely don't want customers to think your pressure treatment damages the wood it's used on, or changes a beautiful colour into an ugly one. But how measurable are these requirements?

What if the stakeholder requirements encompassed some of the following:

  • Does it change the colour of the wood?
  • How long does it last?
  • Are there environmental regulations that would be broken during disposal?

Not only does this encapsulate what the stakeholders asked for - it also provides them with metrics they can use during the course of the project, and especially at the end. I think it's a given that you're actually expected to follow through with them. Be sure to add this to Lessons Learned post-project if it's the first time metrics have been used!

Laura Bamberg, is the Global Sales Administrator for Steelray Software, a project management software company located in Atlanta, GA. Find out more about Steelray Software by visiting their website.


Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment

(never displayed)

What is the month after February?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Top 10 Qualities of an Excellent Manager

The word excellent on a virtual interface with a businessman standing behind it

What are the most important qualities of an excellent manager that allows them to tap into talents and resources in order to support and bring out the best in others.

Project Planning in a Nutshell

Gantt chart

This article provides an overview of why it is important to prepare a project plan. It also shows what elements a good project plan will include.

PMP Exam Day Tips

PMI logo

Tips for passing the PMP Exam that should help calm your nerves and ensure success.

Learning from Project Failures

Success and failure directional signs

Some of the most important lessons we learn come from failures. Kenneth Darter explains a simple four step process to make sure the same failures aren't repeated.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.

Latest Comments

Mind, Meditation and the Project Manager
- Thu 25 January 2:19pm

Arthur commented on…
Make Me a Project Manager in 2018
- Tue 16 January 12:24pm

Suzanne commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Thu 11 January 9:29pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Re: Any Complete Project/Workflow Management Online Tool? #projectsmart #pmot about 1 month ago

General Project Management • Re: What degree should I choose to further my career? #projectsmart #pmot about 1 month ago

General Project Management • Identification System for Project Management Methodology #projectsmart #pmot about 2 months ago