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PM Essence
Best Practices and Stakeholders Perspective / Objective Alignment
      
- Manjula G.S, Axcend Automation and Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

“Delivering 'change' within the organization is challenging. As projects and programs become much larger, complexities grow too.”

One of the key leadership challenge for the overall success of business delivery is alignment to the objectives. In mega projects, where multiple stakeholders (viz., like Client, Consultants, Vendors, Service Providers, Royalty Owners, Government Agencies, Society, etc.) are involved, the priorities and objectives of every stakeholder would be different and highly demanding. Understanding and effective alignment to every stakeholder's priorities and objectives is the key for the project/program success and enhances the competitive position of the organization. However, differences and conflicts could interfere with successful completion and implementation. To achieve the desired goal and void conflicts, BEST Project Management practice to manage a stakeholder is a must. This paper covers various aspects such as alignment to the objectives, misalignment leading to disaster in project, effective framework for stakeholders' identification, understanding the stakeholders' expectations, timely and proper communication, monitoring and controlling etc.

Today's organizations exist in a climate of constant and increasing change to meet the Organizations that have learned how to transform themselves are more likely to survive and prosper. Very often transforming the way the business functions are performed becomes the key, viz. On time market reach, improving productivity, enhancing customer satisfaction, reducing cost etc. The key to successful change management is to ensure that the transformation is driven strongly to deliver the expected business benefits.

Many of these business objectives are implemented through projects and programs that deliver change and business transformation. Delivering 'change' within the organization is challenging. As projects and programs become much larger, complexities grow too. Organization's leadership face lot of challenges while driving the project or program initiatives for business transformation.

One of the vital challenge they face is execution of projects successfully on time. There are a number of factors that influence the on time execution of those project and making them right the first time. A few of them are stakeholders, communication, effective program management methodology and adoption of best practices etc. From the time of building of pyramids in Egypt, till implementation of latest Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in today's world, all endeavors necessitated appropriate Planning, Control and Management of all resources to deliver in line with the expectations. Given below are some of the BEST project management practices that were used for business transformation in one leading Farm Equipment manufacturer.

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Existing Business Challenge: The farm equipment manufacturer had a challenge in introducing cost effective quality products to market on time. Even minor modifications to the product used to consume time with their existing processes. One of the challenge came from managing the complexity and volume of the manufacturing data.

Business Transformation KPI: To bring the desired change, it introduced New Product Introduction (NPI) productivity and cost improvement as one of the business objectives of the Organization. The target was defined to decrease the NPI time by 30% and NPI cost by 20%.

Challenges during Business Transformation Program: After discussion and analyzing historic data, the key challenge was identified as a major gap or misalignment of key stakeholder's expectation to the business objective for which the business transformation was initiated. While the plan was to develop a test bed to automate the manufactured product testing, one of the key stakeholders of the client organization, the testing team was recognized in the basket of stakeholders at initial stages but requisite importance was not given to them in creating awareness on the objectives of the project.

The project management practices that enabled and smoothened the process of “Stakeholders Perspective” alignment during the program management for business transformation are summarized below:

Stakeholders Identification: The first step was stakeholder identification using a stakeholder matrix that determined the degree to which they could influence the project outcomes. The details obtained during stakeholder analysis formed the basis for stakeholder engagement strategy. While defining the strategy, it is important to acknowledge that each stakeholder / group may or may not share the same concerns, opinions and priorities. Arguably, the Project Manager has to invest significant amount of available time in coordinating, conducting meetings, e-mailing and generating reports. This fact is well-received and accepted by all successful project managers world-wide.

Strategize and Prioritize: It is not practical and usually not necessary, to engage with all stakeholder with the same level of intensity all the time. Prioritize the stakeholders and strategize how to engage them depending on their identity, their interests and their impact. Some of the factors to consider are, 1. Who is critical to engage first and why? and 2. At which stage of the program would the stakeholder be impacted most?

Past stakeholder information: Referring to historical stakeholder information from repository related to the similar program saved time to identify the risks and how risks were handled and mitigated.

Culture Difference: Cultural difference among stakeholder creates additional misunderstanding and difficulties in aligning to the business objective behind the business transformation. Importance should be given during stakeholder analysis to understand the culture of the stakeholder, how it impacts the transformation, and strategies needs to be prepared accordingly.

Parallel Expectation: It is very challenging when the stakeholders have parallel opinion and priorities that never coincide and all stakeholders concerned in this area of high priority. Business objective behind the Business Transformation was used to resolve this to give them a common ground.

Stakeholder Involvement: For a successful execution of the Business Transformation, stakeholder involvement at the right time, with right objective was the key.

Stakeholder Communication: Communication Management play it a vital role in bringing all stakeholders to the common platform and for smooth execution of the Business Transformation.

Timely and Efficient Stakeholder Alignment Impact: Timely identification and tracking of all stakeholders and aligned them to business objectives helped avoid foreseen negative impact. Alignment and Adherence to the best project management practices for Stakeholder Management ensured faster implementation of Business transformation program BEST stakeholder management practices are indeed instrumental to enable best understanding and bringing all stakeholders to the common platform for unification of thoughts & ideas leading to BEST strategies. Project Manager can well afford to invest 90% of available time in coordination, conducting meetings, e-mails and timely reports generation.