The new PMP is fast approaching, and PMI has made some considerable changes, such as regrouping and redefining the previous domains into three new ones:
- Domain I: People – covers 42% of the exam questions
- Domain II: Processes – covers 50% of the exam questions
- Domain III: Business Environment – covers 8% of the exam questions
As you will note, the “People” domain will contain a large number of exam questions. This is partly because, historically, PMI has been addressing the importance of a functioning project team, having supportive stakeholders, and proper engagement by all those involved in the project. In other words, the “People” factor has gained considerable importance within PMI’s guidelines as a critical factor in project success. To that end, it is essential to prepare for the exam by carefully studying “Stakeholder Management.” Additionally, and more practically, when working on projects, it is crucial to apply Stakeholder Engagement by identifying as many stakeholders as feasible, determining the key ones, defining their interests and expectations, and developing the necessary strategies to ensure their support and attain their engagement.
An example of Stakeholder Management is: suppose the CFO of your company considers your project too risky and worries that the profit margins are not worth continuing with the work. Therefore, she may be “Resistant” to your project. One strategy to get her to shift from “Resistant” to “Leading” might be to demonstrate that although the new project might seem risky, the potential for further work from this client and industry sector will offset these concerns. Of course, this would have to be demonstrated through proven and verifiable techniques, such as a marketing and feasibility study, which should be done in any event.
It is also important to remember that the term “stakeholder” refers to anyone who, among other things, can impact, be the impact, or even perceive to be impacted by a project. For this article’s sake, let’s talk about a negative impact as opposed to a positive one. Imagine that your “Team Leader” is concerned about their participation in your project because it requires a considerable amount of travel, which is not convenient for her husband since it impacts family life and his work. Therefore, your Team Leader may be “resistant,” but not readily voice her concern. Still, this situation may affect her state of mind and investment in the project. One strategy might be to allow her to work from home as much as possible to mitigate the days when she will be away, plus offer a bonus and extra vacation time. You may not get her level of engagement to go from “Resistant” to “Leading.” However, you may get her to become “Supportive” of the project, as shown in the table below.
Table 1. STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT ASSESSMENT MATRIX (SEAM)
NOTE: “C” means “Current” position/attitude of the stakeholder, and “D” signifies a “Desired” position/attitude for them concerning the success of the project.
The SEAM, as well as the Risk Registry, should be prepared during the INITIATION stage of any project. As with Risk, you will identify more and more stakeholders as you progress through the PLANNING stage. However, the more stakeholders you determine early on, the better because stakeholders contain their risks. For example, a crucial stakeholder, such as a critical team member, maybe retiring soon or might want to reduce her/his hours, etc. Therefore, they may pose a negative risk to the project if they leave the company early and will not be available full time on the project.
Please note that questions regarding “stakeholders” are common in both the CAPM and PMP exams. Therefore, it is critical to recall that the term “stakeholder” encompasses diverse individuals and groups of people, including the client, your supervisor, a public agency, a permitting or certifying body, you, your team, the end-users, and, as shown above, even family members may be impacted and can impact the project. Therefore, make sure you read your exam questions carefully and always remember the broad definition of “stakeholder” and “impact.”