4 basic negotiation skills for a Project Manager


A project manager needs often to negotiate with different stakeholders often during the course of a particular project, not only with the client but often with stakeholders within the corporation. These negotiations will focus on four main areas: resources, schedule, budget and scope.

1. Resources negotiation.

This type of negotiation usually involves internal agents. There may be rare cases in which you have to “sell” the customer a resource for the project, but often there are particular resources that are needed for the project and are not available and you must “sell” a substitute.

Meet with your boss and discuss on overall resource availability. Sit down with them and review the project schedule. Seek opportunities to fit their tasks on schedule where the supervisor believes that will be available. And if it is obvious that things will not work – this resource is needed elsewhere – simply negotiate another resource. Giving up – whenever you get a good substitute – you can achieve a bargaining chip for future negotiations.

2. Schedule negotiation

Negotiations in planning tasks usually take different ways. It is normal that the client requests for a function to be available before other changes or processes that are required to be changed before according to the schedule. One solution may be to negotiate a phased approach to functionality, that’s to say, negotiate with the customer to implement the functionality in phases. Priorities could be restructured, and the core functionality that the client needs moved to an earlier point in the timeline to create later, phases for secondary functions.

3. Budget Negotiations

Budget negotiations usually only follow one direction: to give a higher budget to one or more tasks of one project. It is also usual to find several problems that together make the project runs out of funds, with the need for the Project Manager to get this funding internally or from the client.

Sometimes the client has not documented specific needs that must be budgeted, it’s necessary to document new requirements to support the new negotiation with the client.

4. Scope negotiation.

These types of negotiations always appear in all projects, sooner or later. Customer requirements are never achieved on the first try, always missing something that the client “forgets” to add in the documentation, or something “thought” was documented. Never blame the customer, there are things that happen and are part of everyday a Project Manager’s life. Is possible to try to reach a price on implementing the new functionality, but it‘s also recommendable to provide some work for free, in the end they are our customers and we don’t want to lose them.

In summary, the negotiation can be arduous and critical and also you may need in some situations the support of management staff, but the point is to learn everyday about situations you will be involved because you are going to need this skills as Project Manager you are.

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