One of the key aspects of successful project management, particularly when preparing for an exam such as the Project Management Professional (PMP), is the ability to reach consensus amongst all necessary parties. This article will explore methods for surveying those parties to ensure their needs, concerns, and viewpoints are taken into consideration, ultimately leading to successful consensus.

Table of Contents

Understanding Consensus in Project Management

Consensus in a project management context means the general agreement or collective opinion of all the stakeholders involved in a project. This does not necessarily mean unanimity, where every individual agrees with every aspect, but refers to a situation where parties are satisfied enough with a decision that they will support its implementation.

Identifying Necessary Parties

Part of reaching a consensus involves identifying all the necessary parties that should be included in the discussion or decision-making process. These could include project team members, stakeholders, sponsors, customers, end-users, project managers, and any other entity who’s inputs or interests are critical to the project’s success.

The Importance of Surveying

Surveying these necessary parties is crucial in forming a rounded perspective on what different people want from a project, their priorities, constraints, and potential risks. This process can also help in identifying conflicts early on, enabling the project manager to address them proactively.

Methods of Surveying

There are various methods to survey necessary parties:

  1. Questionnaires: Gathering information through questionnaires can provide a broad overview of everyone’s thoughts, feelings and opinions.
  2. Interviews: One-on-one conversations can provide deeper insights into individual perspectives.
  3. Group Meetings: This platform allows for an open discussion where ideas, concerns, and solutions are shared.
  4. Brainstorming Sessions: These can be particularly useful when the project is still in the conceptual phase, and ideas are needed from everyone involved.
  5. Delphi Technique: Involves anonymous feedback from participants, and multiple rounds of questioning until consensus is reached.

The Process of Reaching Consensus

The process of reaching a consensus may vary depending on the complexity of the project and the number of stakeholders involved. However, it generally follows a similar structure:

  1. Clarification: The project manager needs to clearly define the issues that need consensus.
  2. Information Gathering: This involves using the surveying methods mentioned above to gather all necessary input.
  3. Discussion: Here, the project manager facilitates discussion over the issue, ensuring everyone’s voice is heard.
  4. Decision Making: After weighing all the information collected and insights gained during the discussion phase, the project manager comes to a decision that best satisfies the majority of the stakeholders.
  5. Implementation: Once consensus is reached, the decision is implemented into the project’s execution.

Communication, understanding, and empathy play major roles in this process. This requires good leadership skills from the project manager to guide and facilitate the process.


Surveying all necessary parties to reach a consensus is a vital skill for any project manager or aspirant pursuing PMP certification. It ensures a more inclusive, comprehensive, and well-rounded approach to decision making, reducing potential conflicts and paving the way for smoother project implementation. Hence, mastering this skill can be a significant boost to any project manager’s toolkit.

Practice Test

True or False: When trying to reach consensus in a project management situation, it is essential to only include project team members in the survey.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False.

Explanation: To reach a consensus, all necessary parties including stakeholders, clients, project team members and even suppliers need to be surveyed.

Which of the following is a key benefit of surveying stakeholders before making a decision in Project Management?

  • A) Better understanding of stakeholder perspectives
  • B) Acceleration of project schedule
  • C) Increase in project budget
  • D) None of the above

Answer: A) Better understanding of stakeholder perspectives

Explanation: Surveying all necessary parties like stakeholders gives you a better understanding of their needs and perspectives. This can be very helpful in decision-making process.

When reaching consensus, all parties must:

  • A) Agree on the same solution entirely
  • B) Agree to continue discussions
  • C) Agree to engage in a binding arbitration
  • D) Agree to forcibly accept the majority view

Answer: A) Agree on the same solution entirely

Explanation: Consensus involves all parties agreeing on the same solution. It is not required for all parties to agree to continue discussions, although open communication is important in any project.

True or False: It is not necessary to seek input from parties actually doing the work in a project when trying to reach a consensus.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False.

Explanation: The viewpoints of those doing the work in a project are important for reaching consensus since they provide a perspective that management might not have.

Which one of the following is NOT a reason to survey all necessary parties to reach a consensus?

  • A) To understand different perspectives
  • B) To ensure a smooth project implementation
  • C) To decide the project budget
  • D) To get approval for a project

Answer: C) To decide the project budget

Explanation: While gathering input can aid in many aspects of project management, reaching a consensus doesn’t typically decide a project’s budget.

True or False: Surveying all necessary parties can help prevent conflicts in the latter stages of a project.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True.

Explanation: By surveying all parties, everyone’s opinions or concerns are acknowledged early on, which helps to prevent conflicts later in the project.

Which of these is NOT a crucial step when trying to reach consensus?

  • A) Collecting input from all relevant parties
  • B) Analyzing and summarizing the feedback
  • C) Refusing to compromise on initial plans
  • D) Formulating a plan based on the collected input

Answer: C) Refusing to compromise on initial plans

Explanation: Flexibility and willingness to compromise are necessary for reaching a consensus.

True or False: In project management, reaching a consensus means getting everyone to agree.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True.

Explanation: Consensus means to reach an agreement that everyone can support, or at least live with.

Whose inputs are considered while surveying to reach a consensus in a project?

  • A) Stakeholders
  • B) Team members
  • C) Clients
  • D) All of the above

Answer: D) All of the above

Explanation: Reaching a consensus in a project requires considering the perspectives and inputs of all those involved in or affected by the project.

Consensus decision making is not a part of which of the following Project Management processes?

  • A) Planning
  • B) Risk Management
  • C) Stakeholder Management
  • D) Financial Reporting

Answer: D) Financial Reporting

Explanation: Consensus decision making plays a crucial role in planning, risk management, and stakeholder management, but not so much in financial reporting.

Interview Questions

Who are the key stakeholders that should be surveyed in a project for consensus to be reached?

The key stakeholders to survey typically include the project team, the project sponsor, major contributors, senior management, customers, suppliers, and end users.

Why is reaching consensus among stakeholders vital in project management?

Reaching consensus among stakeholders is vital because it ensures everyone is onboard with the decisions and direction of the project, helping to avoid misaligned expectations, conflicts and misunderstandings, and increasing the probability of project success.

What tool or technique is effective in managing disagreement for reaching the consensus in project management?

Conflict resolution strategies, facilitation techniques, and negotiation can be very effective in managing disagreements for reaching consensus during project management.

How does a stakeholder analysis contribute to reaching consensus in project management?

A stakeholder analysis helps to identify and understand the key interests and influence of each stakeholder. This information can enhance communication and build support, thus helping to facilitate consensus.

What’s the role of communication in achieving consensus in project management?

Communication is critical in consensus-building. It facilitates information sharing, ensures clear expectations, resolves conflicts, and promotes cooperation among stakeholders.

What is the first step in the consensus reaching process in project management?

The first step in reaching consensus is to identify the key stakeholders who will be impacted by the project’s outcomes.

How do we handle stakeholder resistance when seeking consensus on a project?

Stakeholder resistance can be managed by engaging stakeholders early and often in the project, understanding and addressing their concerns, and building relationships based on trust.

Why is it important to understand the stakeholder’s position and interest in reaching consensus?

Understanding a stakeholder’s position and interest helps project managers tailor their communication and engagement strategies to effectively address concerns and expectations, encourage participation, and foster consensus.

Besides surveys, what other methods can you use to gather stakeholder’s inputs?

Other methods include interviews, focus groups, workshops, observation, benchmarking, and requirements analysis.

How can you ensure that all stakeholders feel their input was heard and considered in reaching consensus?

This can be ensured by providing openness and transparency in the decision-making process, encouraging and respecting all perspectives, and communicating how each input was considered in the final decisions.

What are the benefits of obtaining a consensus amongst stakeholders in project management?

Benefits include shared understanding and agreement on goals and objectives, improved cooperation and collaboration, increased chance of successful project outcomes and enhanced future working relationships.

What project management process group is involved in achieving consensus amongst the project team members?

The project management process group involved in achieving consensus amongst team members would primarily be the executing process group.

What is the role of the project manager in reaching consensus?

The project manager facilitates the consensus-building process, ensuring all stakeholders have the information necessary to make informed decisions, mediating conflicts, and guiding the process towards a decision that is agreed upon by all.

How does gaining consensus links with risk management in project management?

Gaining consensus helps in risk management by ensuring that stakeholders share a common understanding of risks, agree upon risk responses, and are prepared to support those responses.

If it’s impossible to reach consensus, what are the alternatives?

In instances where consensus cannot be reached, alternatives include decision-making by majority vote, authority ruling (by a manager, for example), or using a third-party mediator or arbitrator.

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