Managing high levels of project complexity

via stakeholder perspective


Stakeholder Perspective and Effective Relationship Management

A series of stakeholder-centered short guidance articles for increasing delivered value and the success rate of projects


By Massimo Pirozzi

Rome, Italy



If we consider present International and National Standards for project management, may be one of the most updated definitions of project management is «the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements», together with «effective project management helps individuals, groups, and public and private organizations to meet business objectives (and to) satisfy stakeholder expectations» (Project Management Institute, 2017). In general, although undoubtedly the attention to stakeholders, and specifically to stakeholder expectations, increased significantly in last years, the dichotomy between requirements and expectations led, and still leads, to harmful misunderstandings, and, moreover, it is clearly, as we will see further in this article, a basic cause for projects’ lacks of success and/or failures.

In fact, possible misunderstandings are because that, while we consider natural and/or normal that stakeholders have one-sided behaviors in accordance with the diversity of their interests, we tend to consider the projects as if they are neutral. In other words, while we feel uncomfortable when dealing with stakeholder expectations, because they are subjective, we feel more comfortable when dealing with project requirements, which we tend to consider as objective … although they are intrinsically not. Actually, project requirements are nothing but stakeholder requirements, and, moreover, requirements are the result of a complex, non-linear, and affected by semantic noise, mediation among diverse subjective expectations, which, although it has been initially somehow agreed when stakeholders signed the contract, can be evidently interpreted differently by different “stakeholders at stake”. Furthermore, requirements have a dynamic nature too, and this can be either positive and/or neutral for the project, if they are managed accurately and properly during all project lifecycle, or negative, if they diverge from what it has been “apparently” agreed before so that, in most of this cases “scope creeps” phenomena arise, or, definitively, as it happens quite often, a combination of positivity and negativity.

Actually, does the conversion from stakeholder expectations to project/stakeholder requirements work effectively? Moreover, can the satisfaction of project requirements be considered an outcome that is sufficient to ensure the project success? The actual information that are available from the field (Project Management Institute, 2018) absolutely confirm the answer “no, not at all”, although the benefits due to an increasing Project Management Maturity in the Organizations are evident.  In fact, on average:

  • more than 30% of projects do not successfully meet those original goals and business intents on which their existence itself is based on, i.e. they do not satisfy stakeholder expectations;
  • more than 50% of projects experience scope creep or uncontrolled changes to the project’s scope, i.e. they do not satisfy original project requirements, which grow abnormally during project lifecycle;
  • almost 50% of projects do not finish within their initially scheduled times, i.e. they do not satisfy original project time requirements;
  • more than 40% of projects do not finish within their initial budgets, i.e. they do not still satisfy original project cost requirements.

Above evidence of projects’ not-so-brilliant performances – can we imagine what it would happen if going to a potential investor and asking him to fund a project while showing average performances like above? – lead us to an important principle: stakeholder perspective is a definite driver for project success, and, even if it includes the subjectivity of relations, it is more reliable, and controllable, than traditional stand-alone project requirements perspective, which, in any case, is objective only apparently, since requirements are a mediation of different subjective stakeholder expectations.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Massimo Pirozzi are based on the Author’s Book “The Stakeholder Perspective: Relationship Management to Increase Value and Success Rates of Projects”, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton (FL), U.S.A., October 2019.

How to cite this paper: Pirozzi, M. (2020), Stakeholder Perspective and Effective Relationship Management: a series of stakeholder-centered short guidance articles for increasing delivered value and success rate of projects, Managing high levels of project complexity via stakeholder perspective, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue XI, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/pmwj99-Nov2020-Pirozzi-stakeholder-perspective-series6-Managing-high-levels-of-project-complexity.pdf



About the Author

Massimo Pirozzi

Rome, Italy


Massimo Pirozzi, MSc cum laude, Electronic Engineering, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Principal Consultant, Project Manager, and Educator. He is a Member and the Secretary of the Executive Board, a Member of the Scientific Committee, and an Accredited Master Teacher, of the Istituto Italiano di Project Management (Italian Institute of Project Management). He is certified as a Professional Project Manager, as an Information Security Management Systems Lead Auditor, and as an International Mediator. He is a Researcher, a Lecturer, and an Author about Stakeholder Management, Relationship Management, and Complex Projects Management, and his papers have been published in U.S.A., in Italy, and in Russia; in particular, he is the Author of the Book “The Stakeholder Perspective: Relationship Management to enhance Project value and Success”, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, October 2019.  He has a wide experience in managing large and complex projects in national and international contexts, and in managing relations with public and private organizations, including multinational companies, small and medium-sized enterprises, research institutes, and non-profit organizations. He worked successfully in several sectors, including Defense, Security, Health, Education, Cultural Heritage, Transport, Gaming, Services to Citizens, Consulting, and Web. He was also, for many years, a Top Manager in ICT Industry, and an Adjunct Professor in Organizational Psychology. He is registered as an Expert both of the European Commission, and of Italian Public Administrations.

Massimo Pirozzi serves as an International Correspondent in Italy for the PM World Journal. He received two 2019 PM World Journal Editor’s Choice Awards for his featured paper “Stakeholders, Who Are They?”, and for his report from Italy titled “PM Expo® and PM Maturity Model ISIPM-Prado®”. He received also the 2018 PM World Journal Editor’s Choice Award for his featured paper “The Stakeholder Management Perspective to Increase the Success Rate of Complex Projects”.

Massimo can be contacted at max.pirozzi@gmail.com

To view other works by Massimo Pirozzi, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/massimo-pirozzi/