For his final post as our February Guest Blogger, John Chapman addresses what, in many organizations has emerged as the most significant but also the most challenging role for project or programme managers, that of managing stakeholders. If you assume people are pre-programmed to behave in a particular way because of their role in the organization, think again.
Here is the tale of the Chief Executive, the Head of the Disciplinary Committee, and the implementation of expense management software.
A professional body decided to implement an Expense Management Solution. The project was deemed to be part of the transformation of the organisation, to reduce the paper flow, improve the capture of data at source, and assist in analysing expenditure in a way that was not currently possible.
The design took place with many individuals invited to the design workshop. Configuration of the software based on the design and user testing completed by those who work there. The lead person at the organisation wrote training material, arranged training courses, sent out documentation and advised the potential users that the system was now ready for them. All would appear to be well.
About 1 month passes since go live and some of the less active users try to claim expenses. This includes the Head of the Disciplinary Committee who is not an employee. They give of their time in the promotion of the Institute’s Professional Standards. However he has problems accessing the system, does not appear to be able to login, then when entering into the expense solution cannot enter in expenses in a way that is expected.
Being a senior individual, he contacts the Chief Executive in frustration. Immediately the issue is escalated and questions are raised as to what is going on.
A review of the plan shows the project team have prepared training material, sent out login information, run training courses and provide a number to call in event of problems. So what was missing?
At the start of the project we recommend you perform a Stakeholder Analysis using an Influence-Attitude Grid. Gerald Bradley in his book Benefits Realisation Management provides an example which is detailed here.
It is important to consider this across all Stakeholders. The Head of the Disciplinary Committee has very high influence and was likely to have a neutral attitude towards the project. Their only concern is getting expenses reimbursed. As they are external to the organisation, i.e. give of their time and only receive expense recovery, their visibility is limited. They would not have been invited to the design workshops or been involved in user testing. Yet the influence is very high. Failure to manage their expectations can result in a Neutral attitude becoming Negative. With direct access to the CEO and the President of the organisation they need managing.
So think about all the Stakeholders at initiation. Look for those outliers, those individuals who may be at the periphery of the business. They might only have contact two or three times a year and their usage of the system minimal. However when upset they can have a seismic impact, very high influence with access to the most senior in the business.
John Chapman, MIoD, MAPM, FISM, BSc (Hons)
Programme Director, TouchstoneFMS Ltd
Link to: Read John’s first post – Are Project Managers Anarchists and Punk Rockers in disguise?
Link to: Read John’s second post – The Chief Provocation Officer
Link to: Read John’s third post – Fight Director or Peacemaker?
Link to: Read John’s fourth post – The Project Safety Announcement
Touchstone FMS Ltd is a leading business systems and IT consultancy specialising in the delivery of Financial ERP, Business Intelligence and Procurement software solutions; ongoing support and managed services, on premise and in the cloud. Based in London, with customers all over the UK and Channel Islands, we work with leading software authors to ensure our customers have the best solutions for their business. Our emphasis is on building partnerships, supporting customers through their digital transformation journey and long into the future.