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Analyse Project Stakeholders

A major part of project management consists of working with people. In fact, project managers spend the vast majority of their time communicating.

Types of Stakeholders

Stakeholder: Anyone who is affected by, or has an affect on the project.

To define a project's relationships, it is necessary to understand who its stakeholders are. A stakeholder is any person or organization who has an affect on the project, or is affected positively or negatively by the project or its results. Different stakeholders have different levels of influence and authority over the project at different times in its life cycle.

Because there are so many different categories of stakeholder, it can sometimes be very difficult to identify them all. The following list defines some of the principal stakeholders within a typical project:

  1. Table 4. Project Stakeholders

Stakeholder

Responsibility

Examples

Project Manager

Achieving the project objective

Managers, Technical Experts, Specialists

Sponsor

Provide project finances & resources

Senior executives, Banks, Funders

Management

Manage relationships

Project Manager's Boss, Senior Managers, Directors

Customer or Client

Result user

External Clients, Internal Groups

Performing Organization

Provide environment & infrastructure

Company, Department, Supporting Departments

Team

Performs project work

Employees, Contractors, Sub-contractors, Client Employees, Vendors, Suppliers

Others

Anyone else affecting or affected by the project

Community, Regulatory Organizations, Governments, Lobby Groups, Certifying Organizations, etc.

Use Table 4 to help identify all of the project's stakeholders, because they help determine the constraints on the project and its deliverables.

Analyse Project Stakeholders

Analysing the project stakeholders is one of the most important processes in project management, and one of the first that a project manager should perform. It is essential to identify who the project will affect, and who will affect the project, so that you can proactively manage relationships with these stakeholders.

To analyse stakeholders, gather the following information and document it in a Stakeholder Register:

Identity & Roles

First, identify by name the primary stakeholders in the project, based on the following roles:

Project manager

Sponsor

Client

Management

Team

Organization

Others

Responsibilities

Once you have identified these people, you must define their responsibilities within the project.

Impacts

A stakeholder is by definition someone who can affect or be affected by the project. For each stakeholder, determine how the project affects them, and/or how they can affect it.

Interests/Expectations

Identify each stakeholder's interests or expectations. Expectations can be explicit (stated), or implicit (unstated). In either case you must identify them to be able to manage the relationship with the stakeholder effectively.

Issues

Determine whether the stakeholder has any issues with the project, its results, the team, or project management. The stakeholder may not state these issues openly, but that does not mean you can ignore them. You can only try to address the issues once you know what they are.

Level of Influence

You must also determine each stakeholder's degree of influence over the project. Some stakeholders will be very influential, even to the point that they can create or terminate a project. Others may not have much influence at all. The factors influencing a stakeholder's degree of influence include their hierarchical, economic, social and political position, their personal connections, expert knowledge, negotiating skills, personal charisma and control over resources.

Level of Support

Determine the level of support that each stakeholder has for the project. Support usually ranges from being very supportive to being very opposed to the project. This is a subjective analysis that is important in determining how the relationship with the stakeholder will be managed.

Stakeholder Matrix

Analyse each stakeholder's degree of influence and support to determine the best way to engage the stakeholder.

Once you have identified each stakeholder's degree of support and influence, analyze this data using a stakeholder matrix. This will help determine the best way to manage and engage with each stakeholder.

f8-stakeholder-matrix.png
  1. Fig. 8. Stakeholder Matrix

Key Stakeholders

Key stakeholders are those with a lot of influence over and support for the project. They are usually people who have made a substantial investment in the project, either monetarily or personally. Because the key stakeholders have high influence and support, manage the relationship with them very closely. This means keeping them well informed, and taking care to address their expectations.

Cheerleaders

Cheerleaders are stakeholders who are strongly supportive of the project, but do not have a lot of influence. To engage cheerleaders, keep them informed about the project to maintain their support for it, and encourage them to promote it.

Saboteurs

Saboteurs are stakeholders possessing a lot of influence who have a low level of support for the project, and may even oppose it. They often come from senior management level, and oppose the project because they see it as taking resources and/or funding away from their own preferred project. The root cause of saboteurs is often traceable to the lack of an objective project selection process.

To manage saboteurs, attempt to keep them satisfied by addressing their concerns by identifying their interests and expectations.

Project managers often make the mistake of simply keeping saboteurs informed, while trying to keep cheerleaders satisfied. Although this is an easy trap to fall into, the most effective approach is to do exactly the opposite; saboteurs need to be satisfied, whereas it is only necessary to keep cheerleaders informed. The problem with trying to address cheerleaders' expectations and interests is that they may not be appropriate for the project. And the problem with sending information to saboteurs without satisfying them, is that they will use that information to further sabotage the project.

Others

Finally, there are the stakeholders who have low influence and low support for the project. Rather than ignoring these individuals, monitor them in case their levels of support or influence change. If this happens, then obtain more information about their interests and expectations to engage them effectively.

Engagement

Decide and document the specific actions to take to manage the relationship with each stakeholder proactively. The engagement strategy should engage each stakeholder at the right level, with the right information, at the right time, and using the right person.

Stakeholder Register

Document the results of the stakeholder analysis in a Stakeholder Register, and use this document throughout the project to guide how to engage each stakeholder.

Last modified: Friday, 19 September 2014, 11:16 AM