Stakeholder Management is a valuable exercise that successful project managers use to make certain that their projects are delivered as expected where others fall short. The Stakeholder Management process allows the project manager to pinpoint the project’s key stakeholders and gain their support. Is this a reality check for project managers?
What is a Stakeholder?
A stakeholder is anyone that is affected by your project, or has an interest in the outcome of the project, or has some authority or control over your project. Just by the definition alone, gives some indication as to why managing this group is key to the success of the project. But is there a faction of this group that exerts more influence?
Let’s Analyze the Stakeholders
As an integral part of stakeholder management, the project manager should perform a stakeholder analysis. This process identifies the key people that need to be won over. Stakeholders can be both people and organizations. When an organization is identified, the project manager will need to identify the right stakeholders within a stakeholder organization so the project manager knows with whom they will communicate. How many different types of stakeholders could exist?
Most stakeholder analysis classifies stakeholders into the following three categories:
1. Key Stakeholders – A subset of stakeholders who have the power to prevent the project from realizing its agreed upon objectives and possibly cause the project to be unsuccessful, or shape the opinion of the project’s eventual success. Key stakeholders can also be in one of the two remaining categories.
2. Primary Stakeholders – are those stakeholders most directly affected , either positively or negatively, by the outcome of a project.
3. Secondary and/or Tertiary Stakeholders – Are those stakeholders who have an interest in the outcome of a project, although it is less significant and are “indirectly affected” by the outcome of the project.
Once you have completed the categorization of the stakeholders, the next step will be to identify their attitude toward the project. You can use color coding to record your interpretation. Advocates and supporters in green, opposers and critics in red and those who are neutral in yellow.
The Benefits of Stakeholder Analysis
This analysis will pinpoint the highest priority stakeholders so the project manager can focus on those who are important to the success of the project. Stakeholder analysis can be completed at scheduled intervals during the project to access changes in stakeholder attitudes.
Now the project manager knows more about the stakeholders and what they think about or how they might react to the project. This information is instrumental when creating the communication plan and considering how to engage with all stakeholders to discover and manage their expectations before and during project execution, thereby avoiding an otherwise successful project being perceived as a failure.
The reality check, performing stakeholder management can be the difference between success and everything else. What do you choose?
© 2011 Gwen Miller. All Rights Reserved