Ultimately stakeholders in an Agile world are just the same as in other projects but what is less clear is who is involved in the process of stakeholder engagement.
Talking to Project Managers who are working in newly formed Agile environments they report that their role is increasingly that of somebody who ‘minds the gap’ in delivery and what is the biggest gap? The appropriate engagement of all stakeholders.
While product-owners are expected to take on the communications with the business, they are not always suitably skilled or even sometimes correctly positioned.
This can result in gaps, even in role-based stakeholder engagement. Project sponsors increasingly see their role as management-by-exception as they have apparently delegated authority to their product owners. Yet they are the crucial access point to the wider groups of senior business stakeholders. These will include the trickier-to-engage agenda-based stakeholders.
The project lead or coach/facilitator may have a very good understanding and relationship with the technical role-based stakeholders. But, who is watching out for the technical agenda-based stakeholders? Those managers in the technical delivery area who have an agenda with respect to how and what is delivered. How is their power being channelled and appropriately balanced with the desires of the business stakeholders?
What Agile has brought to the project community is an approach that de-emphasizes the technical techniques of predictive project management-less scheduling, less resource levelling, less reporting. It has put a much clearer focus on the need to communicate, engage with people-team members and the broader stakeholder community.
It is my prediction that the project manager role must become more effective in all the realms of stakeholder engagement to remain valuable in our new Agile world.
Louise Worsley is Author of Stakeholder-led Project Management: Changing the way we manage projects. She will be speaking at FuturePMO 2020 on 1st October 2020 on the impact of Agile approaches on how stakeholder engagement is conducted. What practices should the PMO promote and what pitfalls need to highlighted to ensure projects remain aligned with stakeholder outcomes. You can buy the book on Amazon.
Book tickets to FuturePMO now HERE