Risk and Multiple Project Owners

This blog post is born out of a response to the Named Risk post from Ed Arnold on www.LinkedIn.com.   He left the reply below:

In my experience, a lot of time/effort is wasted when project owners change. The knowledge gets lost, even if they leave their spreadsheets and power points behind. The answer: a collaborative technology platform where work gets re-assigned and the project advances smoothly. I know of one project (client I worked with) that has had 3 different owners.

Mr. Arnold’s story reminds me of a saying from an Abraham Lincoln speech to the National Union League on June 9, 1864, “it is best not to swap horses while crossing the river (http://www.bartleby.com/100/448.html). The same is true for projects. Not only is it difficult for manage these transitions, but as Mr. Arnold points out, our project will also be exposed to risks due to multiple stakeholders.

There are a number of tools available to us to understand these issues:

  1. Communications plan
  2. Stakeholder power interest grid
  3. Resource allocation matrix

Multiple stakeholders can have competing demands that may not be a problem if there is one clearly dominant stakeholder.  Dominant, in this case, does not mean domineering but of a higher priority; for example, the most money into the project.  It is incumbent upon the project manager to understand the stakeholders and how their demands may be competing.  We should have evaluated this situation and our communication’s management plan will have methods that will counteract some of the risks. 

We can also use other stakeholder analysis tools to uncover the priorities; for example, we can use a power interest grid to identify where the stakeholders. The power interest grid is a four quadrant chart shown below.   Each quadrant identifies a strategy for managing the stakeholder.


Keep Satisfied

Manage Closely


Keep Informed

 Thank you Ed Arnold.

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