Never Underestimate the Influence of Project Stakeholders

By: John G. Davis, P.E.
University of Wisconsin – Madison

A project stakeholder is any individual or organization with an interest in or influence on your project. A stakeholder can be internal (e.g. project sponsor, management team, functional departments, other project teams, employees) or external (e.g. customers, regulatory/government agencies, vendors, interest groups, the public, the community). Too often, project teams ignore their stakeholders or assume that they already know their stakeholders’ needs or, worse yet, that they know more than their stakeholders. This is a very dangerous trap to fall into. Project teams should talk to their stakeholders directly. Many stakeholders have the power to aid or thwart project success. Failure to identify stakeholders and their needs and expectations may lead to project failures. Therefore, spending time in the initiation phase of a project to perform a stakeholder analysis is critical.

The first step in a stakeholder analysis is to identify who your stakeholders are. This is typically achieved with a brainstorming session. Think of all of the people who are affected by your work, who have influence or power over it, or who have an interest in its successful or unsuccessful conclusion. Identify relevant information for each stakeholder, things like their particular interest in the project, their role in the project, their level of authority, and their needs and expectations of the project. It is equally important that you also understand the priority that each stakeholder places on the triple constraints (time, cost, quality). Ask them to clarify the driver, middle constraint and weak constraint. This will help you and your project team prioritize corrective actions to exploit the weak constraint when you begin to see early warning signs of poor project performance.

Next, identify the potential impact or support of each stakeholder. This can be done fairly quickly using the subjective measures of high and low to help categorize stakeholders and determine where project teams should focus their stakeholder management efforts. The horizontal axis of the grid identifies the stakeholder’s level of interest and measures how much they will be affected by the outcome of the project from low to high. The vertical axis of the grid identifies the stakeholder’s level of power and is a measure of how much they can affect the outcome of a project from low to high. The resulting 2×2 grid will have four squares.

  • The top left is high power, low interest. These stakeholders should be kept satisfied.
  • Top right is high power, high interest. These stakeholders should be managed very closely.
  • Bottom left is low power, low interest. Stakeholders in this square should be monitored.
  • Bottom right is low power, high interest. Keep these stakeholders informed.

A project manager should maintain engagement with stakeholders and customize his or her communication based on the output of the stakeholder analysis. Managing stakeholder expectations is imperative. Furthermore, the project manager’s goal should be to leverage stakeholder relationships and build coalitions that foster project success. Warning signs that your stakeholder management is suffering include missed deadlines, scope creep, confusion, conflict, and churning.

It should not be a stretch to recognize the additional benefits of performing a stakeholder analysis. The outputs from a stakeholder analysis are key inputs into communications, risk, and scope plans.

Stakeholder analysis is important because it helps an organization achieve its strategic objectives by involving both internal and external environments and by creating a positive relationship with stakeholders through good management of their expectations. Good stakeholder analysis and management is a key component of a healthy project environment. Never underestimate the importance of performing a stakeholder analysis. An ignored key stakeholder may view your project as a failure—even if you and your project team delivered a high quality product or service under budget and ahead of schedule.

More information on UW–Madison’s Engineering Professional Development project management courses, contact program director John Davis at 608-2652-8724 or

UW–Madison’s Online Engineering Graduate Programs Ranked in Top Ten by U.S. News & World Report

MADISON, Wis.—The University of Wisconsin–Madison ranked sixth among schools offering high-quality online graduate engineering programs by U.S. News & World Report. This is the fourth year in a row UW–Madison has ranked in the top ten.

UW-Madison is one of only six institutions that have maintained top 10 rankings since 2013, when rankings for best online programs were first published.

This important distinction was announced today as U.S. News & World Report released its most recent ranking of online master’s of engineering programs, which required eligible programs to pass rigorous standards for quality education in the areas of faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, student engagement, and admissions selectivity.

“UW–Madison is honored to again be recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a leader in providing accessible, high-quality education that allows engineers to continue working while they complete graduate studies,” said Wayne Pferdehirt, Director of Distance Degree Programs for UW–Madison’s Department of Engineering Professional Development in the College of Engineering. “Graduates tell us they appreciate our educational approach, which is optimized for experienced professionals. Our students are practicing engineers who value interaction with world-renowned faculty, and projects with peers from world-class engineering organizations. These rankings affirm that UW-Madison is committed to providing practicing engineers with high-impact education that they can access anywhere they live, work or travel.”

UW–Madison’s College of Engineering and Department of Engineering Professional Development offer a variety of online engineering graduate programs, in areas including:

  • Sustainable systems engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Engineering management (professional practice)
  • Engine systems
  • Polymer engineering and science
  • Technical Japanese
  • Electrical and computer engineering (power electronics)
  • Mechanical engineering (controls)

More information on all of UW–Madison’s online engineering degree programs can be found at, or contact Wayne Pferdehirt, Director of Distance Degree Programs, at 608-265-2361 or, or Colleen Barrett, Marketing Director, at 608-263-6314 or

EPD Phone Room Favorite to Graduate from UW-Madison

Patrick HruskaIn summer 2010, Patrick Hruska met Phil O’Leary, chair of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Engineering Professional Development, when he waited on Dr. O’Leary’s table at the Hawks Landing Golf Club restaurant. When Phil learned that Patrick would be attending UW–Madison in the fall, he gave him the opportunity to interview with Sandy Krentz, the Program Assistant in charge of the student employees who man the phone room at EPD.

Four years later, Patrick has become a staple around the department, working primarily in customer service and also assisting with department-affiliated events like the annual Wisconsin State MATHCOUNTS competitions and Grandparents University. He also worked closely with Bob Mincberg, the now-retired marketing manager, to help create and hone the EPD system of email course updates.

This December, Patrick is preparing to graduate with an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and move onto graduate school at UW–Madison in the spring. He will pursue a master’s in Mechanical Engineering while working in the university’s solar energy lab. He will certainly be missed around the department, but he acknowledges that the connections forged as a student employee never truly break.

“I will remember all of the potlucks and holiday parties. It seemed like every other week, there would be a celebration of any number of things,” said Patrick. “I’ll also remember all of the great people I have worked with and have had the privilege to get to know over these four wonderful years. I couldn’t have asked for a better job as a college student.”

The Camp Relationship that Lasted

Shannon KellyHow One Student’s Time at Camp Badger Led to an Eight-Year Relationship with UW-Madison’s Department of Engineering Professional Development.

By: Meredith Metzler

When student employee Shannon Kelly ran into Engineering Professionals Development (EPD) chair Phil O’Leary in the hallway early this semester, they discussed her graduation in December 2014. As they discussed her time with the department, O’Leary noted, “You grew up here.”

The statement struck Kelly, who is completing her fourth year as a UW-Madison student and EPD employee this month. The relationship, however, reaches much further back. Kelly attended UW-Madison’s Camp Badger, a week-long experiential learning camp, eight years ago.

“I came to camp and had a blast. I kind of knew at the time that engineering wasn’t really for me but just the experience of being on the college campus was really great and really fun,” she said.

Over the years, O’Leary has developed a strong relationship with Kelly’s middle school, Starbuck Middle School in Racine, Wisconsin, and its counselor Clarence Allen. Several Starbuck middle school students, like Kelly, who are strong in math and science attend Camp Badger each year after completing seventh grade. Starbuck eighth grade classes take field trips to UW-Madison or attended University-sponsored presentations at their school.

As her younger brothers began attending Camp Badger, Kelly volunteered at the camp and other events, maintaining contact with Allen and O’Leary. When she decided on UW–Madison, Kelly followed Allen’s suggestion and contacted O’Leary, who had always told younger participants to reach out when they got to UW­–Madison.

“Right before I came to Madison my freshman year, I emailed Phil to see if there were any job opportunities working with the programs he does, and he said that there weren’t at the time but there might be opportunities in the office so he put me in touch with Sandra Krentz,” she explained and then added, “the rest is history.”

Kelly began her EPD career in the phone room in 2011, taking on all the tasks and odd jobs that come with the position. Kelly’s first tasks included working in the mailroom where she printed and edited course descriptions and wrote approximately 20 press releases a week following the EPD style guidelines.

“I really appreciate all the effort Shannon has put into helping us here at EPD,” said O’Leary. “She has done so many different things and done them all very well.”

When O’Leary realized she was no longer “on the engineering life track” and instead majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication, he connected her with the Strategic Marketing Communications team.

“Phil has always been an absolutely awesome influence and has always really tried to make sure that all the students in the phone room are hooked up with the best opportunities for what they’re interested in,” she said.

At the beginning of her junior year, she moved full time to working with the Strategic Marketing Communications team.

“I really love this job [with Marketing]. It has been an unbelievable opportunity. Whenever I describe what I do here to other students, they are really jealous and ask ‘how did you get that job?’… This has been such a great opportunity to feel like I’m furthering myself while being in a really fun environment. The people here really do want you to learn,” she said.

Specifically, Kelly notes she can now write copy faster and with more confidence, and she has applied skills learned at EPD to all of her other internships.

“We like to provide students with projects that help build their experience and portfolio, while helping the department as well,” said Colleen Barrett, marketing team lead. “Shannon has been a great addition to the team. Her knowledge of the department helped her hit the ground running and allowed her to progress into more complex projects faster. We are going to miss her, but know she’ll do well.”

Meanwhile, Camp Badger also gained an alumnus in the ranks of their counselors. For the past two years, Kelly has worked nights at the same camp that she credits as playing a big role in her decision to attend UW­–Madison.

Following her early graduation in December, Kelly plans to pursue a career in publishing (which she refers to as her “top shelf dream career”). Much like her time at EPD, she plans to build on existing relationships and networks, specifically from her internship during her semester abroad in London during the spring 2014.

Though those at EPD will miss her enthusiasm and stories of celebrity sightings in London (including Rupert Grint, Stanley Tucci, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Haley Atwell), there might be another Kelly on the way.

Her youngest brother is applying to colleges this year, and though he also won’t become an engineer, Kelly shared, “He said, if he goes here, he’ll probably work at EPD, too.”

And if he does so, he will be the second Kelly to build on strong relationships and find a second home of sorts on the UW­–Madison campus.


Learn More about Camp Badger:

Learn more about EPD:

How can I manage my relationship with my boss?

Before we answer this question, let’s first ask: What is a boss? In the past, bosses were people who were in charge. They knew what had to be done and knew how to do it, and so they controlled the workforce using a combination of reward and punishment to achieve the desired outcome. In the knowledge-based era, outputs are often intangible, and technology is moving so fast that even where there are tangible outcomes, bosses can no longer keep up with how to do a task. Team members often know best how to do their jobs and do not need bosses for their task-based expertise or experience.

So why do we still have bosses? Google is an example of a company that believes in flat structures and empowered employees. In 2002 Larry Page abandoned management structures but soon found he was inundated with so many diverse requests that he had to re-create some management structure. In essence, he needed a few go-to people who owned areas of the business. Without that structure, even the leaking toilet becomes the problem of the owner or founder of the company. Bosses exist to own an area of the business and handle all those issues on behalf of their bosses. They are the conduit of information and single point of responsibility for specific areas of the business. In an empowered environment where skilled staff deliver outcomes directly to customers, is this not a contradiction?  The answer is no! Despite knowledge-based workers producing outcomes themselves and often delivering them directly to the end customer—either internal or external—the so-called boss is still directly responsible for the outcome when reporting upwards to their bosses.

What this means for me is that even though I do not necessarily need my boss to provide any missing skills to do my job, I need my boss to ensure my contributions are used effectively to produce business outcomes. In most businesses, this is not always limited to the person to whom I report in the organizational structure.

My real boss is the person held responsible by their bosses to meet the needs of the ultimate customer – which is a balanced mix of the investors, external customers, and staff. In many cases, I therefore have multiple virtual bosses. To be effective I need to manage their needs and treat them as customers.

Managing my relationship with my boss is not about controlling them, changing them, or manipulating them to get what I need. It’s about understanding that they hired me to deliver outputs to their bosses and learning how to meet those needs and deliver those business outcomes. It’s about me learning how to adapt my style to match the style of my boss. It’s about me learning how to get the right business outcomes, even when my boss has weaknesses or poor communication skills. It’s about me learning how to be a better follower. It’s about learning how to communicate upwards effectively and escalate issues in a way that gets results.  Managing my relationship with my boss is about managing myself!

Further develop your skills in EPD’s Managing Up and Managing Across: Leadership Beyond Your Team course, or contact Tom Smith.

Electromagnetic Interference and Compatibility

SR47powerelecrotationMADISON, Wis.— The University of Wisconsin-Madison is bringing back the popular course, Introduction to Electromagnetic Interference and Compatibility (EMI/EMC) and Best Practices.

EMI/EMC is known as a critical requirement for developing competitive products and systems and will be the focus during three intense days of training. In this short course, important topics such as coupling mechanisms, circuit board layout, conducted and radiated emissions, susceptibility, bonding, grounding, and lightning will be explored. Participants can plan on gaining the critical knowledge needed to effectively apply to new product and system designs.

“This course is unique because the EMI/EMC is rarely taught in universities and colleges, hence, there is a knowledge and skillset gap of employees working in the industry.” said Bulent Sarlioglu, UW-Madison Assistant Professor. “EMC design reviews and analysis early in the product development cycle can prevent costly noncompliance issues and redesign.”

Those involved in the system and electrical engineering, mechanical design, project engineering, program management, technical management and system integration will benefit from the strong foundation provided by this class.

“Participants will learn many aspects of EMI/EMC design and compliance including EMI/EMC terminology, magnetic and electric coupling mechanisms, filter design, standards, system and board layout practices, grounding, lighting and surges – Knowledge that will help them to produce final compliant products.” Sarlioglu said.

The course will offer experienced instructors who plan to lecture on both the fundamentals and applications of this rapidly evolving field. Sound engineering knowledge with application examples will be the focus of the course.

For more information, please contact:
Bulent Sarlioglu, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, College of Engineering
Associate Director, WEMPEC
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Phone:  608-262-2703

AWWA Panel on Asset Management

EPD Program Director Thomas Smith will be speaking at the American Water Works Association: Water Infrastructure Conference in Atlanta on October 27, 2014. Smith is a member of a panel that will address “The Leading Edge of Asset Management.” In his presentation, he will describe the new ISO Standard 55000 for Asset Management and its potential impact on infrastructure. As an US Delegate and Task Group Leader for the committee that wrote the ISO standard, he is a frequent speaker on this topic.

Further information about the Standard, including a series of free white papers: can be found at:  EPD also offers a very unique course on the Standard, taught by Thomas Smith and other members of the Standards committee. A full description of ISO 55000: the Future of Asset Management can be found at:

The Dilemma: To Coach or Not to Coach

By Rick Huber, PhD
UW-Madison Engineering Professional Development Instructor

Why should you worry about coaching others to do their job, some of whom don’t even report to you? After all, you already feel stretched thin and like your work-life balance is out of whack. Let’s think about this dilemma for a moment. After decades of technology and process improvements, product and service quality that meet or exceed customer expectations are absolutely imperative. Going forward, the competence and commitment of employees are the real differentiators in a globally competitive marketplace. If you’re thinking, “That’s obvious. Of course, having talented employees is a must, but what about my full time job and my quality of life?” The following are a couple alternatives that may help you address this leadership dilemma.

Option 1: Only Hire Winners. In others words, if you don’t have the time for or want grow the skills of existing employees, hire people that have already demonstrated the skills you’re seeking. Realize that you’ll need to be ready to pay top dollar and then hope that they stick around when the next recruiter calls. Plus, you’ll probably need to spend some time rationalizing with your current employees as to why they’re not winning material. Definitely a quick fix, but over time this option may be really tough on team morale and development.

Option 2:  Grow Your Own Talent. This alternative requires a leader skilled in coaching and mentoring others. It also requires workers who want to develop to his/her optimal potential on the job. This collaborative approach is based on the belief that a “Win-Win” partnership between a leader and an individual is the best way to grow the talent of others. It also recognizes that individuals want to be more autonomous and self-reliant. In the long run, this option is likely to build an individual’s self-confidence and self-motivation along with their skill set. Thus, it develops self-directed employees that save the leader’s time. Alas, you ask, “Given, I absolutely have Net Zero time to address my leadership dilemma, where do I begin?”

The Dilemma’s Solution: Fortunately, there’s a proven solution to your time-constrained dilemma that has been applied by technical leaders on a global basis for more than 35 years. It applies the Situational Leadership®II approach developed by Dr. Ken Blanchard and others. It includes developing the following three leader skills: setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) goals; diagnosing an individual’s demonstrated competence and commitment; and, then providing just the right amount of direction and support needed for a given situation. This matching of a leader’s efforts to an individual’s specific needs results in rapidly building competence to perform job tasks and commitment to organizational goals. Best of all, it’s a leadership approach that’s easy for everyone involved to understand, implement and sustain.

If you’re interested in learning how to master these time and energy saving leader skills, check out EPD’s next Coaching and Mentoring for Technical Leaders, November 13-14, 2014, in Madison, Wisconsin.

For more information, contact:
Thomas W. Smith

New Course: Permanent Magnet Machine Design Boot Camp

iStock_000019573877Large 300x267 72MADISON, Wis.— The University of Wisconsin-Madison is now offering the Permanent Magnet Machine Design Boot Camp – Internal PM, Surface PM, and Brushless DC course, a topic offered at few universities in the U.S.

This new course builds on the expertise of the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC) and the College of Engineering in electric machines. Instructors include academic faculty and industrial professionals and will offer students a mix of theory and practical knowledge of permanent magnet (PM) machine design.

“Permanent magnet machines are becoming more and more popular because of their high efficiency and high power density,” said Bulent Sarlioglu, UW-Madison Assistant Professor. “For example, majority of hybrid and electric vehicles use permanent magnet machines to achieve higher mileage for a given energy. However, with the increased cost of rare-earth metals, there are opportunities to look into other permanent magnet machines that do not use or minimize the use of rare-earth material.”

Those involved in the design, specification and integration of PM electric machines for vehicle, appliance, aircraft, naval, wind turbine, industrial, and medical applications will benefit from the strong foundation provided by this class.

“This course covers popular permanent magnet machines as well as the intricate design details with rare-earth and non-rare earth permanent magnets to address the power density, weight, volume, and cost characteristics.” Sarlioglu said.

Attendees of this course can expect to learn about:

  • The fundamentals of permanent magnet machine design
  • Analysis and software tools such as Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
  • Important concepts, terminology, and analysis techniques for brushless DC, internal PM, and surface PM machines

For more information, please contact:
Bulent Sarlioglu, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, College of Engineering
Associate Director, WEMPEC
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Phone:  608-262-2703

UW-Madison Launches Online Master of Engineering in Environmental Engineering

MADISON, Wis.—The University of Wisconsin-Madison is now offering an online Master of Engineering degree in Environmental Engineering. Students may now apply for the program with classes beginning in September 2015.

The Environmental Engineering degree prepares engineers to tackle tomorrow’s increasingly complex environmental challenges. Its courses are designed to provide the depth of skills needed for those engineers seeking to advance their career.

“We are very excited to launch the Master of Engineering in Environmental Engineering degree,” said Lee DeBaillie, program director.  “This degree program provides environmental engineers with the competencies needed to solve environmental challenges effectively across technical, organizational and social boundaries.

Environmental engineers are critical to solutions for some of society’s biggest challenges. Leading teams toward successful solutions will require that environmental engineers understand the viewpoint of members of interdisciplinary teams, social concerns including public health, environmental quality, government regulations and requirements, and sustainability concepts. This degree provides the foundation for graduates’ success in consulting practice, government service, and industry.

UW-Madison’s Department of Engineering Professional Development has worked closely with faculty from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering in designing this comprehensive program.

“We’ve carefully crafted a practical and applied program for environmental engineering practitioners,” said Michael Doran, PE DEE, professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at UW-Madison’s College of Engineering. “Furthermore, the program was specifically designed to deliver the body of knowledge established by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists as needed for professional practice.”

The Environmental Engineering program builds on the strengths of UW-Madison’s online graduate engineering programs, which are ranked #3 overall by U.S. News & World Report.

For more information on the new Environmental Engineering degree, visit, or contact Lee DeBaillie, PE, program director, 608-262-2329 or