Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Managing the “Special” Project Stakeholders in Africa

Stakeholders include persons who come about the idea of a project, provide funds for executing it, work to achieve its objectives, intermittently observe the work to measure its progress and finally utilise its deliverables. Simply put, they are the reasons why projects exist. Since projects are unique and timely endeavours aimed at producing verifiable end results and stakeholders are those whose behaviours affect the project positively or otherwise, then no project can be successful without receiving suitable inputs from its stakeholders. Yet, the responsible personnel must effectively manage all these stakeholders or people with different personalities. 

Though he has other responsibilities, it is the job of the project manager to identify and manage all stakeholders. Any error made in these two processes could be very critical as they may lead to failure, rework or additional cost. When the project manager has prior experience in the project type, his problems are reduced. He can apply background knowledge obtained from previous projects to the current work and consult subject matter experts or more experienced team members. Additionally, the organisation’s bank of historical records may provide more illumination on this task. That is why the updating of lesson learned documents remains vital in all ongoing projects. But if still in doubt that all stakeholders have been appropriately identified, it will be in his best interest to consult a senior management personnel.

However, when handling new projects or starting off your first job as a project manager, stakeholders can be quite difficult to identify and manage. In certain locations in Africa, where new and special stakeholders often emerge everyday, it is not an easy job to know who could suddenly decide to have a stake in your project. An example is found in Nigeria where the indigenes of certain areas often disturb project’s progress when their demand for money is not met. Though without legal backing, these natives claim they ought to be paid before any work can be done at project sites. Unfortunately, failure to give them audience or cooperate and negotiate with them may affect the successful implementation of the project.

Yet, requests for such incentives may recur throughout the project duration and increase the cost of completing the project...
Read More at Ventures Africa

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