Monday, 30 March 2009

Project Stakeholders have conflicting agendas

One of the biggest challenges in project management is managing stakeholder conflict. Even at the most basic level, different stakeholders have different relationships to the project.
  • Team members - typically work on a single project for a long period of time. As a result their personal identity becomes wrapped up in the project. They lose objectivity and may try to keep the project going long after it makes sense to give up.
  • Users - often see the project as unwanted interference - a change to be resisted. And if they carry the domain knowledge, they are uniquely positioned to consciously or unconsciously undermine it. (Although increasingly, it seems, projects have customers rather than users.)
  • Sponsors - are more likely to see the project as one of many potential investments they currently have on the go.   Their perspective is almost completely the opposite of the team members, as they have to consider how much resource they give them and whether or not it's time to pull the plug.
A successful project manager understands these conflicting agenda and is able to keep them in balance.