What is a stakeholder?

Stakeholders are all those people and organizations that have some kind of relationship, interest or are affected by the project, regardless of whether they work on it or not.

Based on this, different types of stakeholders can be defined:

  • Companies and organizations. A project may require certificates, approvals, or permits to be executed or to be able to use its deliverables. This would include municipalities, regulatory agencies, insurance companies, fire departments, etc.
  • Users. People who will use the product resulting from the project, and who will show their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with it.
  • Affected. People who, without being directly involved with the project or the resulting product, are affected by its execution.
  • The organization executing the project itself. This includes not only the project team members, but also their supervisors, other project managers, company management, etc.

The importance of managing stakeholders correctly lies in the effects they can have on the project, both positive and negative. It is therefore important that you identify the most important ones and manage them properly.

In the planning phase, stakeholder management consists of two parts: identification and strategy definition. Here's how to carry them out.

How to identify stakeholders

Stakeholder identification starts at initialization and develops in project planning, and is fundamental to be able to correctly define the scope of the project and the requirements to be fulfilled.

Identifying a stakeholder consists of defining the person or organization, its position with respect to the project (in favor, neutral or against), and its degree of influence, i.e. the capacity it has to affect the project.

For the first, you must start from the information transmitted during the initialization phase, although this is usually very basic and insufficient. You can use different sources to expand this information: project history, people who have participated in similar projects, experts within the project team or the company, external consultants, other stakeholders, etc.

Through the same sources, you can investigate the other two points, and it is good that you do so, but the most effective way to know the positioning of a stakeholder is to talk to the person directly.

If you are thorough, you will get a lot of interested parties, usually more than you can handle, so it is advisable to document and classify them. Doing so will make your work easier and will allow you to optimize the time you spend on this issue.

Stakeholder register

In order to properly manage stakeholders, it is needed to document and list all of them. Documentation can be done using the stakeholder register; a document that summarizes all the information generated and allows you to keep it under control.

stakeholder list

Additional resources on this topic.....

Download an editable template of a stakeholder list

Stakeholder matrix

For classification, you can use the stakeholder matrix, which organizes stakeholders according to two variables: degree of influence and positioning with respect to the project, placing them in differnent areas that will require different actions. Therefore the stakeholder matrix is the basis to define the management strategies for stakeholders management

stakeholder matrix

Additional resources on this topic.....

Download an editable template of a stakeholder matrix

Both documents are done during the planning phase, but you may want to review them from time to time throughout the project; as new stakeholders may appear or their characteristics may change.

Additional resources on this topic.....

  Learn more in "A Practical Approach to Project Management"

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