This paper was printed as Chapter 5 in the GPM state-of-the-art book Dimensions of Project Management edited by H. ReschkeŠ & H. Schelle and published by Springer-Verlag in 1990. The book involved 29 authors from 16 countries and was assembled in honor of Roland W. Gutsch's 65th birthday. Roland, a personal friend, was founder and long-time leader of the International Project Management Association in Europe.

Abstract | Introduction | What is | Dimensions | Internal Culture
Corporate Culture | Influencing Environment | Internal Strategies
Surroundings | External Strategies | Stakeholders | Public Relations
Examples | Recent Projects | Consultants | Summary | References

Effective External Project Management Strategies

Prerequisites for avoiding internal project failure, or at least sub-optimal results, were discussed earlier. However, it has also been noted earlier that external conditions and events also represent uncertainty and risk to the successful accomplishment of the project. These conditions have been linked to the external stakeholders of the project. Therefore, it is essential to develop a sound stakeholder environment.

Developing a Sound Stakeholder Environment

Just as the means of influencing the project's cultural environment, as described above, was one of developing the right attitude, so it is with developing a sound stakeholder environment. Perhaps this attitude is best reflected by adopting a mind set that reverses the traditional organization chart hierarchy. In other words, place the project stakeholders at the top of the chart, followed by the front-line project team members, and on down to the project manager at the bottom. Perhaps the project team will then be better visualized as a truly service organization, designed to serve the best interests of a successful project outcome, both perceived and in reality.

Some suggested steps in this process include:

  • Learn how to understand the role of the various stakeholders, and how this information may be used as an opportunity to improve both the perception and reception of the project
  • Identify the real nature of each stakeholder group's business and their consequent interest in the project
  • Understand their behavior and motivation
  • Assess how they may react to various approaches
  • Pinpoint the characteristics of the stakeholders' environment and develop appropriate responses to facilitate a good relationship
  • Learn project management's role in responding to the stakeholders drive behind the project
  • Determine the key areas which will have the most impact on the successful reception of the project
  • Remember always that even a minor stakeholder group may discover the "fatal flaw" in the project and which could bring the project to a standstill!
The Project's External Surroundings  The Project's External Surroundings

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