All stakeholders, irrespective of whether they are internal or external, are customers of the portfolio office. Engaging them is not just limited to keeping them informed or following their orders. Engaging means tapping the interest and influence of stakeholders to achieve organization’s goals.
This practice is part of the Portfolio Delivery Cycle.
Stakeholders for portfolios are usually senior, influential people. Managing their expectations can be tricky. It is important to engage them in the right way at the right time, which will eventually result in successfully reaching the organization’s strategic goals.
The following activities form the portfolio stakeholder management practice:
- Creating a shared vision: Each senior leader in an organization has their own vision. Vision of the finance leader may be different from that of the technology leader. Organizational leadership and the portfolio office both, can benefit from creating a common vision for all senior leaders.
- Getting the support of the management board for portfolio communications: Communications that are supported by senior management are usually very effective in most organizations. Identifying an influential senior management team member to give proactive and visible backing, will help to gain the support of most people in the organization.
- Interest-influence matrix: In portfolio management, stakeholders are assessed with the interest the level of influence they have on portfolio. This enables us to identify high-interest, high-influence stakeholders, who need to be managed carefully.
- Building an engagement strategy around each stakeholder: Understanding each stakeholder’s comfortable way of receiving communications is important. Some stakeholders may be great at tapping away on a smartphone, while some still prefer e-mails or memos. Understanding each stakeholder’s information needs and communication needs will improve engagement with the portfolio.
- Collaborative development of communication strategies: Communication is an essential part of project, programme and portfolio management. In many organizations, there will be an individual or a team handling internal marketing within the organization. If the organization has communications specialists, their knowledge and skills can be utilized for building a communication strategy centred on the portfolio. This will obviate the need of reinventing the wheel.
- Using champion-challenger model: Champion-challenger model is a decision-making mechanism. This model requires an individual who has a “better” idea than what is currently in practice, becomes a “champion” of that idea, while others become “challengers”. If one or more of the challengers’ ideas are found to be better than the champion’s idea, then the challenger becomes the champion, while everyone else become challengers. This strategy can be applied for stakeholder engagement, where a stakeholder, who has a “better” idea than what is in practice, is positively engaged.
Keys to Success
The elements of engaging stakeholders include creating a shared vision, getting management board support for portfolio communications, building an influence-interest matrix, building an engagement strategy around each stakeholder and using the champion-challenger model for getting stakeholders to engage positively. This is a core part of the portfolio delivery plan.
Written by Inham Hassen
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