Stakeholder satisfaction is an essential statistic in the evaluation of a project’s success. The perception of whether an endeavour can meet the expectations of interested parties can significantly influence its popularity and, therefore, the degree to which the product can achieve its goals. As such, the metric is of vital interest to the discipline of project management, which seeks to guarantee the best possible outcomes for enterprises. A significant body of research is devoted to the investigation of the relationship between stakeholder satisfaction and the various aspects of enterprise functioning. This essay seeks to analyse the antecedents and outcomes of the indicator in projects and to explain their link to project management.
Key Theme Summary
Stakeholders are people and organisations that are interested in seeing the project succeed. As such, according to Huijgens, van Deursen, and van Solingen (2017), their primary satisfaction factors are the process of its execution and the results that it ultimately delivers. The success or failure of an enterprise to match expectations can decide whether the venture is received well. However, many people and groups will also respond poorly to inefficient, unethical, or otherwise undesirable practices, which may lead them to seek an alternative or lose interest in the product. Overall, a well-managed project should be able to meet these primary performance metrics and guarantee considerable satisfaction. However, additional steps can be taken to improve the statistic, some of which are also highly influential.
More advanced indicators of stakeholder satisfaction can be difficult to determine due to insufficient research into the matter. Oppong, Chan, and Dansoh (2017) call the metric fuzzy and subjective, qualities that make measurements unreliable and inconsistent. Thus, the development of superior tools is necessary to advance the discipline, as it is currently limited to indicators such as public image, which is challenging to evaluate or control. The correct and practical application of current metrics requires a significant degree of ability and appropriate information. Objective measurements would be easier to apply and appropriate to a broad variety of situations. However, they would have to be based on a characteristic that is a significant predictor of satisfaction.
One example is product superiority, which requires an existing competition for the comparison that precedes the assertion. According to Haverila and Fehr (2016), it has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, though its effects in moderating the statistic or affecting service industries are less pronounced. Customers are among the most critical stakeholder groups for many businesses enterprises, as they are the targets of the majority of products and the primary source of revenue generation. The satisfaction generates loyalty and publicity via word of mouth, leading to improved sales and a more positive reception of future offerings. A good relationship with customers and enhanced revenue can then improve the opinions of other stakeholders due to the changes in the primary criteria mentioned above.
Interested parties want to see the enterprise succeed, but their satisfaction is also a significant predictor of the overall outcome. Al-Hajj and Zraunig (2018) note that most prominent studies list stakeholder and user satisfaction as criteria of project success. The two groups are the people who determine whether the end product deserves the cost associated with it and whether to support it. As such, dissatisfied stakeholders are likely to choose to abandon the project, leaving it without a target audience and thus increasing the likelihood of falling short. The event does not guarantee failure, as the group is usually large and diverse, and parts of it may choose to remain. However, failure to impress the ones who determine whether to purchase or promote the product will almost inevitably lead to a decrease in the critical success metrics.
Stakeholders often cannot see the internal workings of a company and evaluate them, and much of outside publicity tends to be negative, highlighting scandals and issues. Nevertheless, they remain interested in the processes that bring the project to fruition, and engagement tends to improve their opinion. According to Beleiu, Crisan, and Nistor (2015), stakeholder communication and consultation are significant predictors of project success. An enterprise that acknowledges the influence of others on its success and enlists their help during the process is likely to gather considerable positive sentiment. The ability to participate in the creation of value is expected to improve satisfaction, leading to synergetic success improvements. However, the organisation should show some merit in its operations to assure the interested parties that the project is worth an investment.
As can be inferred from the considerations above, the relationship between stakeholder satisfaction and project success forms a feedback loop. High performance leads to positive stakeholder response, which then improves the results even further, prompting another iteration of the process. According to Pirozzi (2018), proper management of stakeholders is essential to the generation of delivered value, which is the primary indicator of a project’s success, and perceived business value, which appears in complex enterprises. Thus, continuous delivery of satisfaction and the maintenance of a healthy and positive relationship with interested parties can result in regular, periodic value increases. As such, the opinions of stakeholders are essential to the sustained growth of companies and the achievement of ambitious goals for projects.
Relevance to Project Managers
Project management is a discipline that concerns itself with maximising the success of an enterprise. As such, it covers a variety of topics related to performance-affecting factors, one of which is guaranteeing and using stakeholder satisfaction to further the goals of the organisation. A project manager should be aware of the principal parties that are interested in the product’s success and capable of determining their interests and goals. Having done so, he or she should be able to create ways to accommodate stakeholder expectations and to maintain a beneficial relationship with them. The literature reviewed in this essay should help foster an understanding of the essential traits of stakeholder management and offer some insight into relevant metrics and approaches.
The essential predictors of interested party response positivity, awareness of process and results, are the primary factors in the success of an enterprise and should be at the centre of project management. A well-organised undertaking that delivers tangible results at the rate promised in the initial claims would attract stakeholder attention and generate satisfaction. No additional adjustments to the existing optimisation and quality improvement measures are necessary to accommodate the existence of outside influences. However, it would be beneficial to consider spreading awareness of metrics that can be challenging for an observer to discern. The stakeholders will appreciate communication and engagement, as it would allow them to further their interests while gathering relevant information and confirming that the project meets their expectations.
The numerous lesser factors that affect satisfaction are more challenging to discern and evaluate, but they can exert considerable influence on the organisation. Product superiority as described by Haverila and Fehr (2016) is one such metric, which is problematic to determine before the finished item is released into the market but has a substantial impact on customer perceptions. A project manager should continually investigate the environment to understand the interests of stakeholders, as most of the factors in play are subjective. At the same time, research into objective values should continue with the goal of creating a framework that can be applied universally.
A project manager should also understand why a positive relationship with interested parties is essential to a project’s success. Stakeholder satisfaction is one of the many predictors of an enterprise’s success, but it cannot be de-prioritised or ignored. If the groups are not interested in the project or have an unfavourable opinion of it, they will choose not to purchase or support the product. As they are the people toward who it is targeted, the enterprise is then highly likely to fail, as it will lose its target audience.
At the same time, high stakeholder satisfaction can sustain itself once it reaches a sufficiently high level. As such, when a project concentrates on fostering a mutually beneficial relationship with its interested parties, it can achieve a high degree of success and improve its other performance characteristics. Project managers should understand the relationship between the achievement of goals and stakeholder values and use it to enhance the performance of their organisations. In doing so, they will improve the probability that their venture succeeds and possibly achieve sustainable successes that exceed original expectations and go on to grow and evolve.
Understanding stakeholders and their satisfaction are essential to project management due to the influence they exert on the success of an enterprise. The antecedents can be challenging to discern, and so professionals in the field should learn to evaluate stakeholder relationships and to understand their interests. In addition, they should understand the importance of satisfaction to the success of an organisation and the potential synergy that can be obtained by maximising value. However, this research is limited due to a lack of objective research into the factors that influence stakeholder satisfaction, a weakness that requires future efforts to correct.
- Al-Hajj, Assem, and Mario Zraunig. 2018. “The Impact of Project Management Implementation on the Successful Completion of Projects in Construction.” International Journal of Innovation, Management and Technology 9 (1): 21-27.
- Beleiu, Ioana, Emil Crisan, and Razvan Nistor. 2015. “Main Factors Influencing Project Success.” Interdisciplinary Management Research 11 (2): 59-72.
- Haverila, Matti J., and Kacy Fehr. 2016. “The Impact of Product Superiority on Customer Satisfaction in Project Management.” International Journal of Project Management 34 (4): 570-583.
- Huijgens, Hennie, Arie Van Deursen, and Rini Van Solingen. 2017. “The Effects of Perceived Value and Stakeholder Satisfaction on Software Project Impact.” Information and Software Technology 89: 19-36.
- Oppong, Goodenough D., Albert PC Chan, and Ayirebi Dansoh. 2017. “A Review of Stakeholder Management Performance Attributes in Construction Projects.” International Journal of Project Management 35 (6): 1037-1051.
- Pirozzi, Massimo. 2018. “The Stakeholder Management Perspective to Increase the Success Rate of Complex Projects.” PM World Journal 7 (1).