Programme and project managers (PPMs) encounter many outcomes when evaluating and making programme/project decisions. A crucial one to consider is stakeholder expectations. PPMs must understand that their programme/project decisions impact stakeholder expectations.
As every programme and project will have a broad array of disparate stakeholders, managing stakeholder expectations on a programme and project is a daunting task.
Each of these stakeholders has a set of expectations. Some of their expectations may be identical, some may overlap, others are independent and a few may be conflicting.
In order to manage the expectations of the various stakeholders, the PPMs must not only be able to understand what stakeholders expect in terms of the programme/project deliverables but also what they expect in the execution of the programme/project.
PPMs must be able to clarify and influence these expectations over the life of the programme/project. We know that these expectations may change during the life cycle and this must be assessed and managed by the PPMs.
The stakeholder expectation management life cycle has three fundamental phases: establishing, maintaining, and influencing.
During the “establishing” phase it is essential that the stakeholders achieve a common understanding for the programme/project and what it is trying to achieve (and will not achieve) within the constraints imposed. Establishing this focus depends on effective stakeholder communications at the outset of the programme/project and throughout the life cycle, and is essential during the “maintaining” and “influencing” phases.
For the PPMs effective stakeholder communications is the glue that holds stakeholder expectation management together. Stakeholder communications encompasses active listening and asking the right questions, as well as clear, unambiguous and timely written portrayals of whatever was communicated during the activities.
PPMs following this guidance will help ensure stakeholders maintain focus, clarity, and understanding of their programme/project.