4 Tips the Best Project Managers Use for Managing Stakeholders

October 27, 2021 by FlexPro

In fields like medical device development and the pharmaceutical industry, project managers handle the heavy burdens of communication, collaboration, and moving important projects forward through the compliance review process.

Life sciences project management primarily deals with stakeholders at pharma companies, medical device manufacturers, and related organizations. Stakeholders typically include:

  • Investors
  • Sponsors
  • Board members
  • Managers
  • Colleagues
  • Cross-functional teams

These stakeholders need constant information and updates. Sometimes, before additional resources can be allotted to the project, stakeholders need reports that lay out the project in extensive detail.

So, how do project managers handle this type of stakeholder management? How do they ensure nothing slips through the cracks?

To answer this question, we gathered advice and tips from our elite project management professionals at FlexPro, a Network Partners company, who have extensive experience with managing stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry. Here’s what these project managers rate as their top priorities for managing stakeholders:

1. Schedule Informal Check-ins:

First, it’s important to acknowledge that project managers must be masters of organization. They should know how to schedule the timing of a project, working backward from the target end date to set deadlines along the way.

This leads to the first tip: schedule informal check-ins to keep stakeholders updated about project progress at regular intervals. During these check-ins, allow concerns to surface before they become major issues that could threaten the entire project.

2. Build Strong Bonds with Key Stakeholders:

Stakeholder management is also about building good relationships with the people who have the most impact on the project. This requires a project manager to have a certain level of diplomacy and interpersonal skills.

A project manager is essentially a cross-functional team leader who facilitates collaboration among numerous diverse groups. This requires clear, honest communication about expectations, plus consistent follow-through.

For example, a project manager must be able to prioritize the tasks required to resolve a specific product labeling issue, assigning each task to the proper person. This often requires deprioritizing activity in other areas, like production, to allow the time and resources to address the labeling issue before moving forward.

This also requires a certain level of advocacy for the team to overcome resource constraints and other issues beyond the team’s control. The project manager must approach high-level stakeholders like bosses and board members to convey the mission, needs, and urgency of the tasks at hand.

3. Use Clever Calendar Blocking:

Calendar blocking is a project management skill that leverages thoughtful timing to ensure maximum productivity. In simple terms, calendar blocking is a smart approach to time management.

A project manager can block out chunks of time to address certain tasks that can’t be handled immediately but need action steps beforehand. Look at deliverables, look at the required time of completion, and block out times and tasks for gathering the required information.

Calendar blocking not only requires expert-level organization, but also excellent follow-through. Deadlines must be hit consistently, and any delays must be communicated to stakeholders immediately to prevent disruptions.

There are two additional benefits of calendar blocking: credibility and personal organization. Credibility builds trust with others because you consistently hit deadlines and fulfill your promises to them. And personal organization allows you to fulfill a promise to yourself of being an exceptional project manager.

4. Remember, No Request Is Too Small:

Project management is all about the details and a great project manager understands that no stakeholder request is too trivial to address. After all, small issues can blow up into huge problems if they’re not handled correctly.

As a project manager, view yourself through the lens of servant leadership. When practicing stakeholder management, think, “I work to be of service to my team.”

This type of attitude from the project manager builds a spirit of camaraderie and sets an example to all stakeholders that open, transparent collaboration is welcome. In turn, stakeholders feel comfortable bringing questions and concerns out into the open so you can work as a team to find the best possible solutions.

For More Information About Stakeholder Management:

The FlexPro Group, A Network Partners Company, is composed of elite professionals in the life sciences industry. Our project managers provide guidance in 4 strategic areas: supply chain optimization, product development and commercialization, integration management, and early-stage acceleration.

We offer effective, efficient stakeholder management for challenging projects in the life sciences, as well as professional support in Regulatory Affairs, Quality, Packaging Engineering, and Labeling. Connect with us today and book a call to find out how we can help deliver your next project on time and on budget.

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