Monday, May 27, 2013

How to Identify Project Stakeholders

Project management is about getting things done through other people. As the project manager you will end up doing some of the doing' work yourself but a lot of what you do is actually organizing the work of others. Those others are your project stakeholders.
When you are asked to work on a project you may already have an idea of who needs to be involved. Your project sponsor (the person who is championing the project and who is generally the one who benefits from whatever it is that you are delivering) may also have had some thoughts about who would be the best people to work on it. However your project can also have stakeholders who are not quite so obvious. Here are 5 ways to identify project stakeholders.
1. Start with the Easy Project Stakeholders
Why make life difficult for yourself? Get a head start on identifying your project management stakeholders by picking off the easy ones. These are the people who immediately come to mind when you think about your project. They include:
  • Your project sponsor (of course he or she is your major stakeholder)
  • Your project team members
  • The customer who will use the deliverable from the project (for example this could be a group or individual within your company a client of your company or the general public).
These can be the first people that you list on your project stakeholder register and they are also the people you can draw on to work out the other stakeholders.

2. Work Out Other Internal Stakeholders

Your project will also have an impact on other departments and areas within your company. Say for example that you are delivering a new product. Each product ships with a customer satisfaction survey in the box. Customers can fill in the survey and post it back to you at no charge to themselves. You would need to let your post room staff know to expect more post and what to do with the surveys when they start coming in. You'd also want to let the person doing the project budget know that your product cost includes reply-paid coupons so these could be factored in to the benefit calculations.
Other internal stakeholders include the press office (so they can issue a nice press release about your work) the communications team (so they can put a great photo of you and the project team in the company newsletter when the project is complete) and the IT team (so they can support you with whatever technology you need). You will be able to figure out other departments who will also be affected by your project.

3. Add in External Stakeholders

Projects don't just affect people in your company. External people have a role to play too. These could include:
  • Contractors
  • Suppliers
  • Auditors.
The external stakeholders relevant to your project will depend on what you are working on. Some projects will not have any external stakeholders but others will have large numbers of external people who are touched in some way by the project deliverables. If these people are heavily involved in the delivery of the project you will want to use project management software tools that allows people outside your company to have access to your project information and files.

4. Consider Groups

Stakeholders don't have to be individuals. You can also have groups of stakeholders. For example a regulatory body could be a stakeholder. You may not know the named individual who is your main point of contact but you can make sure that your stakeholder management plan includes efforts to work with the correct regulatory body the name of your contact there can be added in later.
Government bodies agencies the media the Project Management Office focus groups or customer lobby groups the public all of these are groups that may be affected by your project and you should add them to your stakeholder register. You don't have to manage groups any differently to managing individual stakeholders so you can use all the same communication and stakeholder management techniques with groups as well as in reality you will probably only be dealing with one or two individuals who will represent the group.

5. Don't Forget Yourself

You are also a project stakeholder! A lot of project managers forget that they have a massive role to play in the successful outcome of the project and are therefore a stakeholder too. You are an important stakeholder in terms of being able to manage the project but also in terms of your own career. Stakeholders are typically people who have something to gain or lose from the project. As the project manager you have a lot to gain (or lose) by completing the project successfully. It can be a great career boost to work on a high profile project or a career roadblock if you are stuck with the project from hell. Don't forget to add yourself to the project stakeholder register and work out how you can best influence the outcome of the project to benefit yourself and the company.
If all this sounds like a lot of work don't panic! The best way to identify stakeholders is to do it with other people. Get your immediate project team together and brainstorm who is likely to be affected by your project. Ask your project sponsor for his or her ideas too. They will likely have a different perspective to you and between you all you will be sure to come up with the majority of stakeholders.
Do try to identify them all at the beginning of the project as it makes it easier to manage the communication and engagement activity as the project goes on. But don't worry if you find that you have forgotten someone when you are halfway through the project this happens to everyone! Simply add them to the stakeholder register as soon as you can and then start working with them to bring them up to speed on the project.
Project stakeholders are critical to the success of a project so it really is worth spending the time to identify all the different individuals and groups who have a vested interest in the outcome. It's the best way to make sure that everyone who needs to be involved can support you as the project progresses.
Using ProjectManager.com makes it simple to work with all these different stakeholders. External stakeholders can access all the relevant project files with just a few clicks and they can get started straight away and it's free if they only need to review information! It makes it really easy to get it right.

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