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It depends on which stakeholders. I am a stakeholder and can plot out my own curve of influence, and it is very different than that of the end customer.
If you employ an effective stakeholder engagement process, positive influence should grow and negative influence get less. At the beginning you may have any mix of those.
In an environment of leading without authority positive influence lends you the power you need to be successful - it is a make or break condition.
Not all stakeholders are equal. One thing a senior PM told me many years ago when trying to determine different stakeholder influence was…. Follow the money. That advice may not be the end-all but it certainly is a good place to start.
A lot depends on what the influence is over. If it is related to the project vision or major scope elements then it tends to be higher at the beginning for projects following a predictive lifecycle.
If it is related to the successful delivery of a project's scope then it really depends as stakeholder influence could wax and wane over a project's life. For example, if a peer of yours is not keen on the project in the early stages but gets promoted and becomes your boss midway through, that could be a significant boost influence wise.
Influence is totally indpendent from the life cycle of the project. For example, if one stakeholder is moving from the project she/he can continue influencing the project. That is because I like to use it inside my stakeholder analysis instead of things like power. I always use influence/impact graphic.
If you take the pulse of your stakeholders on a regular basis, why not show how their influence varies over the life of the project?
It would be a simple thing to track the influence changes in your stakeholder register. All you then need to do is graph the changes.
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