Managing Clients and Stakeholders [Book Review]
Mario Henrique Trentim’s book Managing Stakeholders and Clients takes a sales-focused approach to stakeholder engagement. Complex sales share a lot with projects. It is possible for stakeholders to not know what they want and they may take a while to buy (i.e. There are many decisions to be made, and the requirements phase is completed. This book contains valuable information about stakeholder management, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with it.
The book makes the connection between stakeholder management and scope management early on. Trentim explains that the stakeholder/sponsor wants the deliverable and not reports or budget spreadsheets.
He says that stakeholders control important resources. If you are able to navigate through the complexities of these stakeholder groups, you can only manage your project effectively. He suggests a four-ship approach to managing this.
Trentim’s 4 ‘ships’
These are the four’ships’:
Sponsorship: The support of senior management
Partnership: His way to describe teamwork; surround yourself with great people
Leadership: It seems that no contemporary book on project management has been written without a mention to this principle at the moment
Citizenship: Values, sustainability, responsibility, morals, ethics.
You’ll likely fail your project if there isn’t a sponsor to give you authority and resources (sponsorship), treat your stakeholders like partners (partnership), and live by your values (citizenship). You might be very fortunate if you achieve success.
It is clear that the book was not written by an English-speaking native speaker. A editor might have been helpful, but would have also hampered Trentim’s conversational writing style.
Stakeholders are the problem
Trentim says that project managers today have to deal more with stakeholders than ever before. Trentim lists the following typical project stakeholders:
My opinion is that the project manager is often the most important stakeholder.
Users and clients
Contractors and suppliers
He also speaks of people he calls “surrogate stakeholders”. These people are the true stakeholders.
He writes that, for example, a team member could be a surrogate client if they don’t have direct access to the customer. This is common when creating mass products such as a cell phone. Marketing is a surrogate for potential customers to solicit their requirements for the product.
He warns, however, that you should not rely too heavily on surrogates as they may be a distraction or even a fraud.
The golden lesson for project managers: the client is not the only stakeholder they need to worry about. All stakeholders should be able to benefit from the project, including those with different dimensions such as economic, political, and environmental. It doesn’t matter if the stakeholders are primary, secondary, internal, or external. You must pay particular attention to key stakeholders who have significant influence on or importance to the project.
Chapter 6 covers the step-by-step process of identifying and recording stakeholder information. Trentim recommends CRM software or a database for keeping track of stakeholders in large, complex projects that last a long time. These tools seem to be preferable to spreadsheets, but he says spreadsheets will work well for smaller projects.
He emphasizes the importance of keeping the information in these systems confidential. This is crucial, and one reason I would choose to keep my head or a notebook handy for stakeholder notes: nobody wants their client to accidentally find a file containing your detailed analysis of their staff.
The book contains