Arguably the most critical part of any successful project, Rod and Bec discuss stakeholder management and the importance of focusing on project fundamentals to deliver successful change.

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Perspectives from the Quay Bulletin


Rod Adams | Co-founder of Quay Consulting
Rebecca Bennett | Co-host

REBECCA: Today we’re going to be exploring the role of stakeholders in projects.

ROD: Yeah, looking forward to it. Very important topic.

REBECCA: Managing stakeholders is a critical part of delivering a successful project or program. So, let’s start by exploring what a stakeholder is and then dive into understanding the role they play.

ROD: There are many, many players in a project that will fall under the definition of stakeholder. Some stakeholders are more important than others. My definition is anybody that has any role to play in helping deliver the project where they may not necessarily be an active part of the project team or a core part of the project team constitutes a stakeholder.

REBECCA: So that could be a business unit managers; it could be SMEs; it could be power users …

ROD: It could be vendors. It could be sponsors. It could be the board. It could be system users. All of those people would fall under the definition of being a stakeholder looked at through the lens of a project. There’s a lot of building blocks around the establishment of a project, and one of the first building blocks I always like to see is a stakeholder matrix, whereby the project team will sit down and take the time to identify all the stakeholders in the project or program, categorise them as to what type of stakeholders they are; view them in terms of importance to the project and also, if possible, do a tick-cross-neutral in terms of whether the pro for the change that’s been driven by the project, whether the neither here nor there or whether they’re likely to be hostile.

That’s probably the first step to develop that stakeholder matrix. And that should be a living, breathing document. That document should be updated regularly because as you go through the various phases of a project, stakeholders can change.

REBECCA: In that context, ensuring alignment between the various stakeholders, it becomes very critical. Is it the role of the PM to ensure that, first of all, they understand the drivers that will impact different stakeholders? And secondly, is it the role of the PM to ensure that the benefits are both understood across that stakeholder group and that they can be delivered against the business outcomes?

ROD: Well, my view is the three most important skill sets for a project manager, one stakeholder management, two stakeholder management and three stakeholder management. It is absolutely fundamental to delivering any project. The project manager takes full accountability of the management of stakeholders. It’s not a view that’s necessarily shared by all project practitioners. And probably a good example of that is PMBOK, which more or less is one of the gold standard methodologies around project delivery. Its nine knowledge areas was only was expanded to include stakeholder management, probably about four or five years ago.

Prior to that, stakeholder management was buried within the comms stream, I believe, and somehow they managed to identify nine other knowledge areas that were more important. But in my opinion, everything that is about driving a successful outcome comes back in some way, shape or form to the ability of the project manager to manage stakeholders.

REBECCA: How do you ensure that you actually do understand your stakeholders from the outset?

ROD: It’s not anything you can really learn in a book. It comes down to your ability to assess human nature. It comes down to your ability to identify drivers for an individual. It comes down to your ability to read somebody in terms of the body language and their personality. And you’ve always got to have in the back of your mind — or possibly in the forefront of your mind — behaviour what is motivating this stakeholder and what is driving their behavior, whether it’s positive or negative behavior on the project.

And then the real skill for a good project manager is then to fill the void in terms of do we want to be getting more out of this stakeholder in terms of the positive impact, or do we want to be reducing the impact of this stakeholder on the project? If it’s a negative impact or we want to move them from a negative to a positive? A lot of it comes down to a project manager being able to assess the very nature of the stakeholders.

REBECCA: There’s a lot of softer skills in terms of how you engage and how you communicate to their stakeholders. What are some of the critical lenses that they need to apply in that type of assessment, particularly around the risks and opportunities with stakeholders?

ROD: Well, to your initial point, it’s all about the soft skills, stakeholder management. As I said, it’s difficult to learn in the book and the better your soft skills, the better a project manager is able to understand the drivers and the motivations of a stakeholder and then bring that knowledge to bear in terms of driving outcomes.

REBECCA: We talk about alignment being absolutely critical in delivering successful projects or transformations, particularly ensuring that projects remain aligned to business requirements and such. So what does a PM need do to facilitate that alignment and ensure that stakeholders are able to agree on what success looks like?

ROD: Well, in the perfect world, everybody is aligned, but in the real world, it’s very unusual for everyone to be aligned, particularly across stakeholder groups. Because invariably you’re driving change and when you drive change, sometimes people’s roles or sphere of influence or jobs change significantly, and they don’t always change for the better. It’s not about having the ideal of getting all your stakeholders aligned. It’s about understanding where you can get alignment and where you can’t get alignment, how you manage that situation with the stakeholders.

You know, a strategy can be to just manage or nullify the stakeholders impacts on the project, which could be adverse. I’ve interviewed project managers where they’ve said to me that they’ve always achieved maximum alignment with their stakeholders. And it’s simply not possible because human nature dictates that sometimes in projects as winners and losers and the losers aren’t necessarily always going to get on board and align as you’d like them to. So the real skill and stakeholder management is identifying where stakeholders are going to be disenfranchised, where you actually have to deliver bad news to them.

And how are you going to go about managing that interaction with that engagement whilst keeping the project on track and delivering the greater good for the greater amount of people.

REBECCA: Would you say then that the more challenging a stakeholder is, the more critical it is to stay close to them and understand what’s motivating, what the pressure trigger points are, and particularly in understanding how they’ll respond in the event that they project becomes more challenging or it isn’t delivering as they want it to?

ROD: Well, it comes back to their importance in the grand scheme of things. So it comes back to the stakeholder assessment. So you might have an extremely unhappy, noisy stakeholder, but if they’re actually not pivotal in delivering some of the project outcomes, then whilst their behaviour might be demanding a significant amount of effort and input from the project manager to manage them, if they’re actually not that important in terms of the wider outcomes of the project, then you can assign your time accordingly.

REBECCA: You can end up going down the rabbit hole with a very, very noisy stakeholder that actually isn’t that important to the overall outcome of the project. Project managers need to be very pragmatic. Project managers only have a finite amount of time to manage their stakeholders. They need to use as many techniques as possible to make sure that that finite amount of time is used wisely. And one technique is to assess the importance of the stakeholder to the project and then assign their time accordingly.

ROD: So it’s not a one size fits all in terms of how you manage a stakeholder. You do need to be very aware that some stakeholders are more important than others.

REBECCA: If you look with that lens and you have two stakeholders who are utterly critical to the outcomes of the project or the transformation, but as a project manager, you recognise they have very different perspectives on what the outcomes need to be or the priorities start to be … To differ, or there’s simply just a different agenda. Do you have an example of what that can do to a project and what a PM can do to bring them either back together or find a path through those different perspectives?

ROD: I can give you a good example of a particularly difficult stakeholder. It was a government project. This person’s area was going to change significantly once the project was implemented. They were in the various working groups trying to be a negative influencer. So they were identified as a as a major stakeholder and someone that could influence a large cohort that we actually needed to be on board for a successful implementation. So as a project manager, we deployed a number of techniques.

We tried to understand who could influence them, but turned out that they were quite dominant in the cohort. And in the end, the way we looked to get around it was to bring them more inside the tent. So instead of the stakeholder feeling like they were having this project done to them, we elevated their role to make them part of the solution. Unfortunately, it wasn’t successful, and in the end, we had to just try and ring fence them.

And what I mean by that is we tried to move them from a cross to a neutral and it wasn’t successful. So we had to ultimately decide to cut our losses that they weren’t for changing. And then we just tried to somewhat neutralise them in terms of their negative impact on the group,

REBECCA: In terms of neutralizing a negative or challenging stakeholder, without obviously putting them completely offside, what does that actually look like? I mean, in terms of their sorts of actions or the conversations that need to be had?

ROD: Well, the way it looks, it comes back to communication. Typically a negative stakeholder … they’ll be coming at you from a number of directions as project manager. They’ll be saying things like, we weren’t told, we can’t believe you guys are doing this to us. Again, this project failed last time. Why is it going to be successful this time? Potentially a lot of passive aggressive behaviour, often just straight out aggressive behavior, particularly in open forums.

So you’ve always got to give them the benefit of the doubt. So you can’t start from a position of this as a negative stakeholder. We’re not going to be able to change them. So you do need to try and develop strategies to take the time to see if you can bring them around. And as I said earlier, one of those strategies is to get them more involved in the project, to get them part of the solution, to try and drive the benefits or highlight the benefits of the project to them as opposed to the negatives.But you’re not always going to be successful. So that’s where a good project manager needs to be pragmatic. When I ask the question, how have you brought a difficult stakeholder around? And they just keep going and going and going, going. In terms of techniques, I know that they haven’t managed to be 100 percent successful because sometimes you can’t be. And that’s where you’ve got to go to the ring-fence strategy of, okay, how can we limit this stakeholder’s negative impact on the project?

REBECCA: Is this where maybe looking back at business requirements and the role of business analysts in defining requirements and looking at talking to stakeholders about their specific requirements can actually help a PM?

ROD: Yeah, but it’s less about the requirements because you’re absolutely always need to have listened to the business. If you don’t gather the business requirements successfully, then you will leave yourself open to criticism from stakeholders in terms of you’re not listening to us, you don’t understand what we need to run our business. So business requirements are absolutely critical to get those right. But what’s also critical is the benefits. I’ll give you an example. We’re involved in rolling out a upgrade to an XP upgrade, desktop deployment.

It was being run very much as an infrastructure project. What was happening was all the users and there were three and a half thousand users were going to end up with a lockdown down environment. So that meant they couldn’t have iTunes, they couldn’t have personal photos as a screensaver, et cetera, et cetera. So the stakeholders was basically the three and a half thousand cohort of people that we’re delivering the change to. And as we were gradually rolling out, they were getting more and more and more hostile.

And we identified two things. The first thing was that it was very hard to deploy and we put together a deployment pack that was too complex. And the second thing is we actually hadn’t found a benefit. We hadn’t found a hook to get them excited about it. So we did two things. We restructured the deployment approach. So we were actually going in on weekends and doing the deployment for them. So that was making their life easier. So that took a lot of noise out of the stakeholder group.

But the other thing that we discovered was with the upgraded desktops, it would enable the users to have dual screens. And for this organisation, being a financial services organisation, dual screens was a significant benefit because when they were talking to customers, they could actually open two documents at once and compare. So we actually identified this and rebranded the program, that dual screen rollout, and after that, we had people, stakeholders, particularly previously noisy stakeholders, beating a path to our door to be deployed ASAP to take advantage of the new benefit that we’d identified.

So it worked a couple of ways. We made life easier for them and we listened to their concerns. And then we actually found a significant benefit. And we really shone a bright light on that benefit. And we turned around a very, very hostile stakeholder group. And of course, we identified, for want of a better term, the ringleaders, and we brought them into the tent in terms of what we were doing. We had listened, we were making changes, and they were very open group of stakeholders.

Once they saw that, we had listened and we actually could bring benefit to them. It changed the whole perspective of the project.

REBECCA: And that’s a really critical part of any change journey into a business via transformation is being able to illustrate for various stakeholders, what the change agenda is going to look like.

ROD: Yeah, and you do need to as much as it can be painful at the time, you absolutely do need to listen to the noisy, negative stakeholders because there’ll be a kernel of truth in everything they’re saying. Now it might be over the top and it might be unfair. It might be unwarranted. But there will be some validity in what they’re saying.

And you do need to listen to it and then you need to get creative and work out ways that actually you can take their feedback and see if you can solve their problems for them within the scope of the project. Now, sometimes there’ll be negative stakeholders that can’t be turned, as I was talking about earlier around the Ring-fencing. But a lot of the times the noisy stakeholders actually can be engaged, can be turned around to be positive for the project.

But it’s not good enough just to sit back on your heels as a project manager and say, well, this is the scope, this is a technical approach. There’s nothing we can do. You actually need to go through the process of seeing if you can find those benefits to them and then get them engaged in a much more positive way.

REBECCA: If we shift gears a little bit and look at this from the perspective of the year that most of us have found ourselves in, where there’s been a lot of ambiguity around what needs to change, and perhaps that in some instances the requiremenets requirements gathering or the specific outcomes aren’t quite as detailed as they might be in a more typical scenario. So in 2020, do you think that the approach to stakeholder management has been different?

ROD: Yeah, absolutely. 2020 has been a very difficult year in terms of project delivery. All of a sudden, most projects have had to do as much, if not more, with less. And that has meant that project managers have had to have taken the opportunity to, for want of a better term, crash or crash through around a lot of delivery, because in such unusual times, the behaviours of stakeholders, particularly some of the behaviours, have been suboptimal, there’s actually been less patience around those behaviours, which has enable projects to move ahead much quicker and much more effectively because needs must.

REBECCA: Australia’s obviously had a couple of big challenges this year, like, for example, COVID, we’ve spoken about quite a bit, but with the bushfires, someone like the RFS commissioner Shane Fitzgibbon was a really good example of what strong, authentic and collaborative leaders look like. Given how challenging this year has beenhat, w are some of the narratives and behaviours or trust building factors that PMs or leadership can utilize to keep a grip on the outcomes, yet help their organisations navigate some really tricky or deeply uncertain ground?

ROD: Well, I think that’s a really good example, actually, Bec. I think with the New South Wales Fire Commissioner, the thing that struck me about him was his authenticity all the way through. He was never trying to sugarcoat anything. He was extremely honest. He’s extremely transparent. He managed expectations superbly. So even when those expectations were potentially dire outcomes, he never sugarcoated anything. That’s the key to stakeholder management, is the ability to manage expectations. And you’re not always delivering good news.

Sometimes you’re delivering bad news. And Shane Fitzgibbon was an absolute master in being able to deliver good and bad news, pretty much the same way. So within his stakeholder cohort, which was effectively whatever

REBECCA: All of New South Wales, really…

ROD: The five and a half million people in New South Wales, I’ve never heard across word about him, certainly about the way some of the outcomes were arrived at, but nothing around his conduct. He is an exceptional stakeholder manager and transparency and expectation management were some of the techniques that he was using and whether by design or just whether through experience… I suspect through experience, given how long he’s been in that role and given that his father was also quite senior in the fire service, that all of that held him in good stead.

REBECCA: He really engendered trust in the way he communicated and in how he really made clear that the most important thing was to give information at the relevant time to the relevant people to make decisions.

ROD: Yes. So, again, it comes back to managing expectations. And I agree he was very good in the type of information he delivered, how he delivered it and when he delivered it. And then he remained at the lectern and answered the questions. And it’s no different in a hostile steering committee. And a project manager is going to front up and stay calm and sometimes deliver bad news to stakeholders. A good project manager would already have had the conversations. You know, they’d be working off a no surprises approach. And Shane Fitzgibbon seemed to follow that approach, that he really limited the surprises. So he was always very transparent about the potential risks. The following day or the following day or the following week and what needed to be done. So he was a gold standard in, as I said, when he delivered the information and how he delivered the information. And I’m sure he was managing senior stakeholders expectations in the background, away from the cameras as well.

REBECCA: He has certainly got … He’s now moved on to a new role in looking at the crisis management at a higher level. What I think is interesting for his position is how much that has been emulated in subsequent crises as we’ve faced. And you start seeing that there are other leaders looking at how he’s handled what was an incredibly difficult, challenging eight or nine months worth of bushfires.

ROD: So are you suggesting that a bushfire shouldn’t be handled from Hawaii?

REBECCA: Very much so….

ROD: Yeah. I think that message has got through and it’s got through to everybody. I think it’s a fair point. He fronted up. There’s no doubt he fronted up

REBECCA: And he stayed in the whole way.

ROD: And he stayed in. If you look at the current COVID crisis and you look at the premiers, you can argue some premiers have handled it well, some haven’t. Federally, same argument, but everyone seems to have got the message that you need to front up.So there’s been that regular communication. And I think by and large, whilst the messages have been delivering may not have been palatable, I think there’s been a genuine honesty right across the group in terms … Honesty and transparency, in terms of how those messages are being delivered

REBECCA: And a great deal more respect, I’d imagine, as well, because when you see people delivering information that is straightforward, unencumbered by good or bad, it seems that Australia, by and large, has weathered the COVID crisis very well, partly because we’ve been able to say, well, look, you know, we’re behind what they’re trying to achieve. We understand we’re trying to get a dampener put on COVID.

ROD: Well there’s another way of looking at it. And I’m sure this has been if it’s been said once, it’s been said 100 times, the politicians have taken the politics out of handling the crisis. The national cabinet clearly is an example of taking the politics out of managing the crisis. And that’s a nice pointer to good stakeholder management. If you’re a project manager and you’re trying to be political, you’re going to get found out. You are going

REBECCA: It’s going to be hard to hide it, isn’t it?

ROD: Yeah, yeah. And you’re going to put you’re going to put cohorts of stakeholders offside. So probably the most successful management of the COVID crisis, particularly in the early days, I’d argue now that there’s probably politics being played in certain states, but I think during the original response, it was very much a collective. So even if politics were being played, there was very much the perception that there was no politics being played and that’s taken the stakeholders along and solidified the stakeholders behind the decision making.

It’s a very important lesson for any budding project manager is you’ve got to take, particularly when it comes to stakeholder management, you’ve got to take the politics out of it. Sometimes you’re going to be delivering bad news. Sometimes you going to be dealing with stakeholders that don’t particularly want to be dealing with or big personalities that might be difficult to deal with. You’ve got to take the politics out of it and you’ve got to focus on the outcome and you’ve got to focus on the collective.

What can you bring to the table or what other groups can you pull together to help manage those stakeholders? And I guess the covid response is a very good example. So it just hasn’t been the politicians up on the lectern that had the health advisers that had other security advisers. They’ve had lots of people that they’ve collectively brought with them to manage the stakeholders. And it’s no different to walking into a steering committee, having to deliver some bad news, bringing along the solution architect or the lead consultant or the vendor to help contextualize that message, to help manage the stakeholders responses and their expectations.

REBECCA: It’s a difficult position to sustain, though, the longer project goes on.

ROD: Well, look, one of the good things about projects is they have a beginning, a middle and an end. Projects don’t go on forever, although I’m sure there’s some people listening that have been involved on projects that seem like they went on forever. There’s often a natural attrition around stakeholders anyway as stakeholders move into other roles, like it’s very unusual to have a sponsor for a long project that has the same sponsorhen when you start and when you finish, stakeholders can change.

That could be positives and negatives. Different phases of the project will dictate different stakeholders. So you’re not necessarily stuck with the same challenging stakeholder today or tomorrow, as you have today, a good project, managers are aware of that and they will be saying to themselves, this, too shall pass. So you’re not stuck in a continuum with the same noisy stakeholders.

REBECCA: I think one of the things that is interesting about this particular scenario is that a young or green project manager is not necessarily going to be quite as adept at managing stakeholders as someone who has considerable experience in managing lots of stakeholders or difficult stakeholders. So where does the mentoring happen for someone coming into a project to help them understand the levers, the drivers, the motivators of stakeholders?

ROD: That’s a good question. Certainly there’s a mentoring potential within the project management cohort. Maybe the sponsor can be a mentor, maybe someone from the vendor can be a mentor. Maybe one of the senior BAs can be a mentor. But first and foremost, stakeholder management comes from a couple of places. It comes from just who you are as a person. How you been raised in terms of managing, particularly managing conflict or seeing conflict and seeing how conflict is resolved effectively, because at the end of the day, happy stakeholders, anyone can manage a happy stakeholder.

It’s managing the disgruntled stakeholders that is a challenge. So could just be innately in you. But the other area comes from and this is particularly when I’m looking to engage project managers, I want to know how much interaction they’ve had with the general population in previous roles. I’m not looking to see whether they’ve done an Agile job course necessarily or PMBOK or they’ve got a project management qualification from uni. That to me is the hygiene side of things. You don’t learn stakeholder management from a textbook. So I’m looking at people that have worked in kitchens, that have worked in restaurants as waiters, have driven cabs that have worked in shops that have actually served the general population.

REBECCA: They pick up some more life skills generally.

ROD: Absolutely, because everyone’s a critic and being able to manage difficult people that at times those people might be completely unrealistic in their expectations. Having that skill set and that experience completely parlays into stakeholder management from a project management perspective, because stakeholder management is about managing people, managing their expectations, delivering news that may not be good news to somebody and being able to manage an outcome that doesn’t end up in fisticuffs or whatever.

ROD: So I tend to look for people that have had those roles in past lives where they’ve had lots of interaction with the general public because that’s how you learn to manage stakeholders. It’s almost like stakeholder management 101.

REBECCA: If we shift gears just a little bit then and look at what’s happening with teams now and stakeholders now, where previously you may have had teams that were co-located or stakeholders that are colocated. And now we’ve got a workforce that’s widely distributed and dealing with a lot of change. How do you think that’s going to impact the approach to stakeholder management going forward?

ROD: Oh Bec, it makes it so much more difficult because to manage a stakeholder, you’ve got to use all your senses. You’ve got to use sight… Sound. You’ve got to be able to read people’s body language. In this remote worldnd and particularly if you’re on the same call and your stakeholders have all decided to switch their cameras off, you’re flying blind at times. So the best way to manage a stakeholder, particularly somebody that’s not happy, is to meet them in person. Sit down with them, whether it’s to go and have a coffee or have a meeting or see them in a working group.

You can’t beat that one on one personal interaction. You can start to build rapport, which is very which is critical to manage any relationship with anybody. You can pick up nuances. With why things have gone in terms of teams that are now distributed and there are teams that actually have not met their stakeholders and project managers have not met their stakeholders in person and are unlikely to. It makes it much more difficult because you actually lose some of that ability to really understand where your stakeholders are coming from because you’re not having that personal, face-To-Face interaction, which gives you the chance to use or your faculties for want of a better term to really understand what their position is.

REBECCA: But it does lend itself ….If we do find that stakeholder groups are going to remain distributed for quite some time, is it incumbent on a range of people in the project  be much more proactive in connecting? Zoom fatigue has become a very real thing and so has virtual meetings where you can sit in front of people even with the camera on and still miss the nuances. How do we be proactive in a way that we can read those people who we’ve lost that sense of what their body language is doing or the subtle nuances of having a face to face engagement would be?

ROD: I was speaking to one of our senior BAs the other day about this very topic and what they’ve started doing, which I thought was a really clever idea…  Is with their stakeholdersand .. and you don’t have to be a project manager to have stakeholders. Certainly business analysts have stakeholders as well. This person with the two or three major stakeholders once a week for 15 minutes. They’re meeting with these stakeholders in a virtual coffee meeting and they’re talking about everything but the project and work. And they’re talking about what they did on the weekend…

REBECCA: Looking at more of the soft general communication that stay engaged rather than zeroing in on the challenges. Let’s just be human.

ROD: Well, because everybody’s working out of the office, they’ve have lost that ability to walk past the stakeholder’s desk and say, hi, how are you going? What did you get up to on the weekend? Did you go sailing again or whatever it may be? So this person is actually scheduled in a weekly 15-minute catch up just to talk about non-project and non-work comings and goings.

ROD: And that’s about building rapport. And the greater the rapport you have with the stakeholders, the more chance you’ve got of understanding them. And certainly the more chance you’ve got of potentially delivering bad news or managing their expectations when maybe they’re not going to get what they want out of the project for whatever reason because it’s not sufficient budget or time. I thought that was a really clever way to bridge the gap of not having that physical Face-To-Face contact, yet still, build a good relationship.

REBECCA: It’s also a good way of sort of assessing whether or not drivers and motivators have changed, too.

ROD: Well, I think I have maybe not so much the drivers and motivators, but certainly the tolerance for mucking around with a project is much less than it was. And that’s bringing pressure to bear not just on the project teams, but also on the stakeholder’s expectations. The university sector is a fantastic example. Under a huge amount of financial pressure. So everybody there has really had to, not just the business.

And when I say the business, the people that actually working in the university and keeping it running, but also the project teams have all had to reassess their expectations about what is expected behavior in terms of running projects and being stakeholders. The current times have probably led to the tolerance for poor stakeholder behaviour being much lower right across organisations. So would you say that if we don’t and we know that you’re not the person who looks into a crystal ball, but here to look ahead, say, in a year’s time, do you see some of these shifts becoming more standard behaviour or do you see about the potential for a reversion to some of the more typical traits and stakeholder management?

I think it’s always going to revert. People are people. A lot of stakeholders really don’t understand how projects roll. And that’s okay. They’re not project practitioners. So that education piece and that expectation management is always going to be there. As I’ve often said, one of the reasons that project management is such a necessary capability within an organisation is there’s no barrier to entry to being a sponsor. And sponsors often are number one stakeholders. So you have sponsors coming in, being sponsors for large programs, five, ten, twenty one hundred million dollars. And they may have no experience or no background in project management whatsoever. You’re always going to have new people coming in to interact with projects that are stakeholders that haven’t had any experience in projects. And they’re going to bring what they bring, you know, their expectations right or wrong, their understanding of how things should be done. So I don’t think it’s a point in time that you get to and say, well, now the stakeholders are going to behave better.

ROD: I think it’s always going to be a challenge. What 2020 is brought is a different set of circumstances. And, you know, maybe we’ll get to a point where everyone’s back in the office and you’re going to have project managers that actually have forgotten how to manage stakeholders in person.

REBECCA: Given that we have had so much change, what are the critical things that a project manager should be focusing on now, given that we have had a lot of change, but we may go back to a scenario of all being back together again from stakeholder perspective.

ROD: I think as a project manager, you’ve always got to be just very much focused on the fundamentals: the business outcomes for the project, the scope, the budget, the timeline, and then how that plays back into the impact of change on the stakeholders. I just think the fundamentals remain the fundamentals. I think what we have at the moment is a more challenging set of circumstances in terms of the ability to engage effectively with stakeholders. And look, there’s probably a little bit more wriggle room, if I’m honest, because of the fact that some projects have to be done now and there’s not the ability to take forever because there’s not the amount of people this as I said, there’s less tolerance for delays. Project managers have taken advantage of that where they can. I think you still very much need to be focused on the project fundamentals and then just understand how some of the different ways of working at the moment are impacting the ability to manage stakeholders effectively.

REBECCA:  That’s it for today’s Quay Conversation. If you found today’s episode useful, you can find the show notes on our website and you can subscribe to the podcast by searching for us on your favourite podcast. Thanks for listening.

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