Getting the right engagement with stakeholders, and with one key stakeholder – the project sponsor – is critical to the smooth running and success of your project. The problem is most stakeholders know very little about project management. They are typically line managers being impacted by the project so their interest is whether that impact is going to have a positive or negative effect on their day to day lives.
The job of the project manager is to recognise that, work out whether the stakeholders are going to be supporters or opponents of the project then put in place a plan to manager or mitigate the stakeholder interaction with and around the project.
The PMO’s role
What has this got to do with the PMO? You are there to support the project manager and since all project communications and reporting will flow through the PMO you’ll probably get first sight or sound of any rumblings of discontent. Either from the stakeholders themselves or their staff. You need to keep the project manager abreast of any issues you identify or hear about. This is all about tracking stakeholder engagement and maintaing the engagement plan with and for the project manager.
Secondly, you will be responsible for setting up the reporting and control structure and whilst it is important to meet stakeholders needs, you do not want to create bespoke reporting or controls for each project. As Henry Fiord said when he launched the Model T Ford, you can have any colour you like so long as it’s black. You will have to support the project manager in educating the stakeholders of the benefits of standardisation across the organisation. Alongside the project manager you have to be coaches, mentors and trainers educating the project management ‘illiterati’.
So, working with the project manager, if you set the right tone and level of stakeholder engagement it will make the lives of everyone on the project team so much easier.