The Open Source Project Management Community

A Fresh Look at Stakeholder Education

Conduct an internet search on “causes for project failure” and you will find many of the same reasons cited across sources. You will likely recognize these failures on some of your own projects –

  1. Poorly developed requirements
  2. Scope creep
  3. Lack of communication
  4. Lack of quality assurance
  5. Unrealistic deadline

The Challenge

Most common issues associated with project failure are things that are outside of the project manager’s control. Sponsors and executive level stakeholders make important project scope, resource, and schedule decisions without any project management expertise or contrary to expert advice.

Industry Solution

Attempts by industry leaders to educate executive level stakeholders on project management concepts and best practices are challenged. I give a presentation on Project Sponsorship. The presentation announcement encourages project sponsors to attend with their project managers to get the most out of the discussion. I have yet to have a project sponsor in attendance. This audience does not have the time nor interest in project management to avail themselves to opportunities. They rely on the project managers they hire to be the experts. Project management thought-leaders need to change the focus and target of messages. Instead, provide information to project managers on how to educate and involve executive stakeholders to optimize chance for project success.

Project Solution

Successful projects require a blend of skills and experience in project management and the business that the project supports. The stakeholder management plan needs to drive toward educating stakeholders on project needs given our expertise and experience in managing projects. We must also recognize and leverage the expert knowledge of the business stakeholders to best shape the project management plan, communicate, and identify risks. The goal is to build a project culture that encourages collaboration, knowledge sharing, respect, and trust amongst all project stakeholders. Project managers will have greater influence in those important project decisions when this culture exists. 

Strategies for Sponsorship will follow this model by focusing on the project managers’ needs to increase project sponsorship effectiveness. The book will also speak directly to project sponsors as well with tools the project manager may leverage at the most appropriate time.

These strategies can be adapted to suit the circumstances but the focus must be the executive stakeholder- who after all is the owner; even though they may not realize it. 



Strategies for Project Sponsorship is a future book by Peter Taylor, Vicki James, and Ron Rosenhead. Please visit www.strategies4sponsors.com for more information. Please complete the survey found here. There is also an opportunity to earn PDUs by sharing your project sponsor story.

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