Who are the stakeholders? When we read the title, this is the first question that comes to mind.
If we take the definition of the PMBok, a stakeholder is an individual, a group or an organization that can influence or can be influenced (or perceive itself being influenced) by a decision, activity or result of a project.
Shortly, a stakeholder is a person, a group of people, or an organization that has an interest in the project or is influenced – directly or indirectly – by its result.
This can include, for example, project team members, project sponsors, members of the organization, and people outside the organization.
But let’s try to analyze all the aspects that can be of interest of the subjects directly or indirectly involved in a project and the evaluations and actions that inevitably are in the hands of the Project Manager.
Project stakeholders: interests and necessities
In a certain manner, a stakeholder has an interest in the outcome of the project.
It is therefore essential to identify all the stakeholders in a project, and it would be trivial to say the reasons.
The identification of the stakeholders must be done from the beginning of the planning phase in order to create a strategy to manage them.
This will help in managing the project with minimal obstruction from them. The sooner the stakeholers are identified, the sooner we can start to communicate and to involve them in project decisions.
In this way, they will feel a connection to the project. They will be able to understand the benefits and they will support the project manager everytime he needs it.
The project is successful, if all the stakeholders are happy and satisfied with the result.
It may happen that even if the project is complete and all the deliverables have been accepted by the client, the project is not successfully completed because some stakeholders are not completely satisfied.
Therefore, in order to successfully complete a project, it is very important that a project manager can keep all stakeholders satisfied.
Normally, if the project is simple, the list of project stakeholders is probably small.
However, if the project is more complex and perhaps spread across a large geographic area, it is possible that the number of stakeholders is huge.
In a big project, in fact, project stakeholders can also be communities or the general public.
The important thing is to keep in mind that the stakeholders are not all the same.
Every stakeholder has different needs and expectations.
So, each stakeholder must be treated according to its needs and expectations.
Not doing it can compromise the success of the project.
For this reason, knowing all the stakeholders, their needs, expectations and requirements will increase the chances of success of the project.
If we forget or disregard an important stakeholder, this could lead to difficulties in the later phases of the project.
The Project could suffer: delays, cost overruns and, in the most serious cases, the closure of the project itself.
Type of Stakeholder
Project stakeholders can be divided into two categories:
- Internal stakeholders;
- External stakeholders.
Internal stakeholders are directly within the organization. For example:
- A sponsor;
- An internal client (if the project arose because of an internal need of the organization);
- A project team;
- A project manager;
- A portfolio manager;
- A manager of another department of the organization (for example, trade manager, administrative manager, ecc.).
On the other hand, external stakeholders are external to the organization. For example:
- An external client (the “standard” type of clients);
- An end user of the project result;
- A supplier;
- A subcontractor;
- The government;
- Local communities;
Moreover, stakeholders can be positive and negative.
A positive stakeholder sees the positive side of the project and benefits from its success.
These help the project management team to complete the project successfully.
On the other hand, a negative stakeholder sees the negative result of the project and can be negatively influenced by the project or its outcome.
This type of stakeholder is less inclined to help.
Perhaps we will appear boring, but it is fundamental to understand the importance of identifying the project stakeholders in the early pahses of the project.
It is also necessary to note down the details, requirements, expectations, power and influence on the project in the stakeholder register.
Some of these stakeholders will have a minimal interest or just a relative influence on the project.
However, the project manager must also take care of them.
Indeed, you can never know when secondary stakeholders can become the dominant stakeholders and if the dominant stakeholders become less influential.
The register of Stakeholders
After having identified all the stakeholders, their information will be recorded in a so-called stakeholder register.
This register is a project management document that will contain all the aforementioned information.
In this document all the people, groups and organizations that have any kind of interest or involvement in the project will be identified.
Here we can find the names, titles, roles, interests, requirements, expectations, type of influence, etc. of each one of them.
The stakeholder register will be created as soon as the project statute is signed.
Doing this in the first stage of the project will help complete the project with minimal effort.
Once the register is created and all the stakeholders are listed, a strategy to manage them will be easily drafted.
The contents of the Stakeholder register
Usually, the stakeholder register contains three types of information about each stakeholder:
In some cases, the register can also contain the stakeholder management strategy.
In the first section, we will have the following information:
- Contact information;
- Role in the project / organization.
In the second section about the evaluation of the stakeholders, we will have:
- Stakeholders requirements;
- Communication necessities;
- Communication frequency;
- Influence on the project;
- Interests and power.
The last section will classify the stakeholders on the basis of various criteria.
They can be divided according to their power and interest in the project, whether high, medium or low.
It is also possible to assign other attributes to the stakeholders, for example, if a stakeholder is internal, external, positive, a supporter, a resistor or a neutral stakeholder.
After completing the evaluation, it is possible to edit the stakeholder management strategy.
This strategy will help to interact with each one of them based on individual needs, influence and interest in the project.
The stakeholder register must be kept up to date throughout the project life cycle.
While the project goes on, it will be possible to identify new stakeholders or it can happen that other stakeholders should no longer be considered. The register should be therefore contain these changes.
Moreover, during the project life cycle, the interest or power of one or more stakeholders could change. This must also be duly noted in the register.
As it appears clear, the identification of stakeholders is a continuous process. This is why the stakeholder register must be considered an “open” document during the entire life cycle of the project.
Because this registry contains names, e-mails, classifications, and management strategies, it may not be shown to everyone.
It is therefore necessary to keep this document in a safe place with limit access.
Every project manager must therefore remember to always take the project stakeholders into consideration.
In fact, a deficiency in this sense could have serious and negative repercussions on the whole project.
Have you ever had any difficulty in identifying one or more project stakeholders?
What are your experiences?
Leave us your comment.