Product managers are experts at stakeholder management. To some of us it is the most natural thing, and for some it requires a bit more thought and planning. Regardless, there are real benefits to approaching stakeholder management like any other task – with a bit of planning and intent in the process.
Effective stakeholder management is crucial for product managers to navigate stakeholder dynamics successfully, build relationships, secure support, leverage expertise, mitigate risks, and drive innovation.
We all know that we have a lot of stakeholders in product management in general. But take a look at each of your key tasks – for example devising product strategy, or planning a product launch – and determine (based on the task) who the stakeholders are. A stakeholder should be someone with either the power to influence the task, or with an interest in its successful completion – or both. Remember a stakeholder is not just a manager or decision maker, it could also be a project gatekeeper, sponsor, influencer, customer or user.
Visualize your stakeholders on a power-interest matrix. It will save you time and pain in the long run. Here’s how to approach stakeholders based on their position:
The first step to successful stakeholder management, is to align with each stakeholder, on their position in that matrix. Do they agree on their position, when it comes to this particular objective or project? Have a discussion about their needs, expectations and influence levels in the project/task. From there, your interaction with each stakeholder should be charted and you are set up for product management successes!
A great stakeholder manager is: