Inability to manage existing software projects, there is a possibility of hearing comments like the task done is not what is initially planned. In some instances, some project managers request for countless revisions until the agreed plan is achieved. Oftentimes, project failure is common, so an overhaul is expected.
Have you encountered a difficult stakeholder when communicating? If not, do not worry. They are everywhere. Be prepared with strategies in case you face them. With this, so you can settle differences easily and pursue collaborating with them despite potential obstacles in managing software development projects.
This article provides four essential tips to assist you in surviving difficult stakeholders. Regardless of what they do, you can always turn around the situation to make the project successful.
Never burn bridges
One vital element that you should always keep in mind is that stakeholders are hoping to attain a successful project. However, the manner in expressing their willingness to achieve their goals may be altered during the process of undertaking the project.
At times, they will be very supportive. Then, there may be instances that they will ask you to do some adjustments and experience some arguments about the agreed tasks if everything is not well defined from the start. Changing minds in the process happens so you have to be ready to make amendments toward project success.
In cases of disagreements, do not take things personally. Always remember that business is business. When you burn bridges with your client, this can be damaging to your personal career’s success. You cannot avoid collaborating with difficult people. Always look for ways how to manage them with tactfulness and win over the situation.
Below are four effective approaches when dealing with difficult stakeholders and ensuring to make the software projects successful.
#1 Determine who you are dealing with and know them well.
The initial step is to identify who your stakeholders are and check what motivates them. A stakeholder could be any individual who may be impacted by your task, has the power over it or can influence how you do it. Also, that individual is interested to make it successful.
Types of stakeholders
The following are examples of stakeholder individuals or groups. They can be classified into three groups.
Primary stakeholders. These are individuals that are directly impacted by your work. They are usually the project beneficiaries. Clients are under this category.
Secondary stakeholders. These are those that are indirectly affected by the work. Personnel involved are teams who support the project and are impacted by the final project outcome.
Key stakeholders. These are the people who have a solid influence on how the work should be done. They have a personal stake to make the project succeed. This group involves investors and executives.
Every group has various goals, objectives, and agendas. Most of them have competing demands. Identify carefully and prioritize their demands and interests to let the projects move forward and prevent delays in the process.
Not all stakeholders are of equal footing. It is best to figure out who has full control to know who is the best group that can reduce your stress. It is highly advised to be aware of how to classify the stakeholders through the simple matrix below.
Highly interested, high-power individuals (people to manage well): These people have a great interest in your work and have the influence to assist you to succeed. It is crucial to get these people involved and ensure they are satisfied with your outcomes. You must consider their input carefully and employ their suggested ideas as much as possible. Let them know in case someone’s ideas are selected and explain to them how things are doing.
Less interested, high-power individuals (people that should be kept satisfied): They have limited involvement or no interest in your work but can be powerful in terms of what they want to achieve. You need to keep them satisfied by doing your best and optimizing the use of their time. It is highly advised to know their insights about major decisions and ensure you are aware of how your task can positively impact them. These individuals are influential champions, especially when you win their trust.
Highly interested, low-power individuals (They should be informed): They show enthusiasm about the project and are vocal in supporting the staff. However, they have limited power or influence. Keep them informed of any big developments. Your task can directly influence these people. It is the reason they are more than willing to do their share and assist you in doing your work.
Less interested, low-power individuals (They do project monitoring): The most uninterested in the group. These people are the least impacted by your task and would require little time and attention. Do not upset them and they will not annoy you.
With the matrix above, you can easily identify your team champions and potential critics. However, always be reminded that the active champion in your group could transform as a roadblock overnight. Make it a habit to check your stakeholders' review status emails or suggestions to know their comments. Maintain open communication lines to discuss any arising issues about the project.