Case Study on Stakeholder Management

Published originally in the PMI EMEA E-link, May 2013

Girish Dharan, PMP, member and active volunteer of the PMI Switzerland Chapter, shared with us a real-life example of a challenge he faced managing stakeholders as a programme manager.

Mr Dharan holds degrees in engineering and management and has 11 years of professional experience in information technology (IT). He has worked on many different kinds of IT projects, such as development, production support and maintenance, end to end implementation and business transformation programmes. In these projects he has played different roles, such as team member, team leader, project manager and programme manager in Europe, Asia Pacific, the United States and Latin America.

Mr Dharan was assigned to lead a US$5 million programme. After a few weeks of engaging with the programme team, Mr Dharan realised that he had many issues to solve, such as poor stakeholder management, internal alignment challenges between participating units, weak client project management office (PMO), technical glitches and coordination issues due to the involvement of multiple vendors. However, he was able solve these issues and brought the programme back on track.

Here are a few actions that helped him solve “poor stakeholder management” issues.

He identified the client stakeholders and created a matrix. The matrix featured below shows that the situation was not ideal. For example, normally the programme manager PMO would be in quadrant B.

Stakeholder management matrix 
Stakeholder Evaluation Matrix

He then defined a strategy for each of the stakeholders based on the position they occupied in the quadrant:

Quadrant A: In an ideal scenario, you may not find people in this quadrant. However, Mr Dharan’s situation was far from ideal. Due to the nature of the role, quadrant A occupants were participating in the programme, so it was very critical to manage them. Mr Girish’s strategy was to enable them to make decisions by providing them with all the relevant information, supporting them in meetings, and having quadrant D people assist them, ensuring that they were aligned with the programme leader so that they made the right decisions.

Quadrant B: This is the most important quadrant. Because they are the “leaders,” if you have the right people here, the programme will succeed. The strategy that helped Mr Dharan was to keep them updated on the progress, highlighting the risks and asking for intervention.

Quadrant C: People in this quadrant are “followers,” so communication made the difference. It helped the occupants understand the programme objectives, and provided clarity on the current status and what is expected of the programme, thus helping them in giving the right information to the end users in the organisation.

Quadrant D: In spite of having less power, people in this space were the real “game changers” of the programme. Mr Dharan made them staunch supporters by gaining their confidence and trust, including them in critical decision-making meetings, and using them to influence people in the other quadrants.

To summarise, every programme has its own set of stakeholder management challenges. Mr Dharan’s recommended approach is to map the stakeholders into a matrix, and tailor the strategy based on their position.

Girish Dharan, PMP
Girish Dharan, PMP, member and active
volunteer of the PMI Switzerland Chapter