Impact of stakeholders actions on projects in Trinidad and Tobago


Stakeholders Actions have halted many projects in Trinidad and Tobago

Kublalsingh’s Hunger Strike which ended on Day 21 demonstrates the impact stakeholder action can have on projects being implemented in Trinidad and Tobago.  Protest action by stakeholders has delayed and often halted the progress of many projects.

One of the reasons that stakeholder analysis is done is to identify stakeholders, determine their interests and influence and determine ways to manage them. The PMBOK Guide, Fifth Edition recognized the importance of Stakeholder Management and has introduced a tenth knowledge area called Project Stakeholder Management.

Dr Kubalsingh is a stakeholder in the Government’s project to build a highway to Point Fortin. Project stakeholders have been defined as the people involved in or affected by project activities. The Fifth Edition, PMBOK Guide expands on this definition “project stakeholders are individuals, groups or organizations who may affect, be affected by or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision, activity or outcome of a project.” There are internal and external stakeholders among them being donours, competitors, suppliers, government officials and concerned citizens.

Dr Kublalsingh in speaking of some of his concerns with the project noted that “The environmental impact assessment is weak. It does not cover a full social impact assessment. It doesn’t have a hydrological report and it sets out a course of consultation which was never adhered to”. If true, this points to inadequate social and environmental analysis and not enough input from stakeholders in project formulation and design.

Other negative effects of stakeholders actions

Whether Dr Kublalsingh’s comments prove to be true is not so much of an issue as what approach should be paid to ensure that there is adequate stakeholder involvement in government projects. Millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money are being lost as protests delay and sometimes stop projects in Trinidad and Tobago. Government not only loses the money spent on these projects, in the event they are government funded or supported, but litigation also plays a part as interested parties try to recover in instances of stoppage of projects.

Negative stakeholder action can not only cause delays in projects but can lead to massive cost overruns and often changes in project designs as attempts are made to meet stakeholder requirements. Key stakeholders can make or break the success of a project. Even if all the deliverables are met and the objectives are satisfied, if your key stakeholders aren’t happy, nobody’s happy

Pressure on the project’s budget can be caused by financial stakeholders such as unions who demand greater financial benefits for workers or suppliers who increase prices or negatively affect the material supply to the project causing changes in material used and/or delays.  Special interest groups can bring action which requires a legal response thus negatively impacting the project’s budget.  Political stakeholders often use projects to satisfy theirs or their constituents’ requirements even at the cost of the project’s success.

 PMBOK’s new Stakeholder Management knowledge area seeks to address the question of stakeholders actions and  impacts on projects and it has:

  • An Initiating Process called identify stakeholders, an output called a Stakeholder Register and a technique for understanding stakeholders is a Stakeholder Analysis
  • A Planning Process called Plan Stakeholder Management with outputs of Stakeholder Management Plan and Project Documents Updates
  • An Executing Process called Manage Stakeholder Engagement with outputs of Issues Log, Change Requests, Project Management Plan Updates, Project Documents Updates and Organizational Process Assets Updates
  • A Monitor And Control Process called Control Stakeholder Engagement with outputs of Work Performance Information, Change Requests, Project Document Updates And Organizational Process Assets Updates

The Importance of Mapping Stakeholders actions and coming up with a stakeholder management strategy.

On the other hand the continuing professional development website sees stakeholder mapping and management as key to project success and outlines four steps of the stakeholder mapping and management process i.e. identification, analysis, prioritization and engagement.  Perhaps one might say that the first step is the most critical because a lack of identification of important stakeholders can result in them not being part of the initial project discussions and can later result in communication problems, a lack of trust, damaged relationship, not to mention the need for variation changes which their input earlier could have avoided.

Other ways of having positive stakeholders actions on projects

Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean have to, like The Project Management Institute, pay more attention to stakeholder management. Kathy Schwalbe noted that because project management is to meet project requirements and satisfy stakeholders, it is critical that project mangers take adequate time to identify, understand and manage relationships with all project stakeholders.  In identifying stakeholders it is useful to identify their requirements, interest, influence/power and any negative issues/problems existing and potential and try to address them. Obtaining their buy in and support for the project is critical for its success especially if they are influential stakeholders.

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