Project Management Profession

Applying 80/20 Principle in Stakeholder Management

Written by Otto Sipos

What is your experience with handling the stakeholder needs in stakeholder management? Is it an easy task for you?

Easy or not, fulfilling the expectations of  stakeholders is a key in project management.

On the other side, each project is a possibility for stakeholders to make changes.

According to John Reiling, PMP, these are some of typical motivators that drive a stakeholder:

  1. Opportunity to fix a nagging problem.
  2. Raise personal prestige in the eyes of subordinates, peers, and superiors.
  3. A pay raise or bonus could be a payoff.
  4. A promotion could result.
  5. Life on the job could be made easier – for self AND others.
  6. This could open new opportunities for organizational change and growth.
  7. Costs can decrease.
  8. Increased quality can be achieved.
  9. Payback can be provided to someone within the organization.
  10. Favors can be given to select individuals within or outside the organization.

If you as a project manager can ping some of these motivators, it is a better chance to stay the stakeholders on your side. Additionally, it is a better chance to conduct a successful project.

The more the better. Ideally the best is when you can manage all. But nobody can.

Here is where Pareto principle can come into the picture.

You do not have to deal with 100% of the stakeholder motivators. Some of them can even lead to scope creep.

Try to find the 20% that can help the project reaching 80% of the value increase.

These are the recommended actions in the 80:20 Stakeholder Management article:

  1. Recognize that the motivations on the list are all potential sources of scope creep, and maybe 80% of them will actually only add 20% of the total value.
  2. Realize that it is your job, at least in part, to scope the project and to help determine which items are part of the 80% that produce 20% of the value, and which are part of the 20% that produce 80% of the value.
  3. Identify as clearly as you can the ONE ITEM – feature, core product, process, or outcome – that will produce the most value, and work to build the scope statement around that.
  4. Try to push off the smaller items until after the core value has been achieved.
  5. Set up a system for responding to the desires of your stakeholders by distinguishing requests according to 80:20 principles.

In my experience the Pareto principle can be applied in almost every project to gain more stakeholder satisfaction.

The only question is if you can identify that 20% which helps gaining more value effectively.

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