Stakeholders and Stakeholder Management

Who Are Stakeholders?

Project stakeholders are people or organizations, internal and external to your organization, that have an interest in a project or believe that they are going to be impacted by a project. Stakeholders are the people and organizations you as a project manager will have to keep on your radar screen as you manage the project. Every project will have stakeholders, even if it is just the user of the finished project, such as the group in your organization that will use a new accounting system the project is to deliver.

Stakeholder management entails the following key concepts:

  • Stakeholders are not always easy to identify, and identifying them is an ongoing process throughout a project.
  • Failing to identify a stakeholder could have major consequences at some point in the project.
  • Stakeholders should be classified and managed based on your assessment of their connection with the project and its outcomes.
  • Stakeholders’ interests in the project may change as the project progresses.

What Is Stakeholder Management?

Stakeholder management involves two basic steps:

  1. Identify actual or potential stakeholders, whether individuals or organizations.
  2. Determine the needs of your stakeholders at the beginning of the project to best engage them as the project progresses.

The project team must consider the most effective and efficient ways to keep stakeholders informed about matters such as project goals and objectives, the business value the project generates, key constraints and assumptions, the projected schedule, the estimated budget, and key risks.

You will especially need to identify the key stakeholders whose support you will need and get their commitment to the project. Naturally, any classified project in a government environment will restrict the number of stakeholders who can be briefed completely on the project. Overall, keep in mind that your project charter is a key tool for educating those stakeholders who have the authorization to know such details.

What Is a Stakeholder Management Plan?

Once the project team has identified and categorized stakeholders, it should create the stakeholder management plan. Though it's considered to be a subsidiary plan of the overall project management plan, stakeholder identification and planning should always be one of your first priorities. This plan will vary in form, but should list all identified stakeholders, the project’s potential impact on them, and details about how and when to communicate with them.