When you’re given a project to manage, it is important to know and understand the stakeholders involved and their roles. Sometimes it can be tricky to identify who your stakeholders are and why they are important to the project itself. Before you can identify stakeholders, it is important to understand what a stakeholder is and their purpose. Basically, stakeholders are those with a vested interest in your project; they can be customers, clients, suppliers, or others within your organization.
You should start every project with a stakeholder analysis; this will help you define clear expectations and outcomes of the project. Start this process by creating a list of all those who might have a vested interest in your project. Here is an example of how to choose the right people as stakeholders:
Kate, the head of your company, has reached an agreement with the vendor, Stella, to sell them your product. This project has been assigned to your department and Maria, your boss, assigns the project to you to lead. Mike is very concerned with how this project will go since he got the lead to the sale. The legal team will have to draw up the papers to the agreement.
The stakeholders in this scenario would be:
- Kate because it is her company that is being affected
- Stella because she is the client
- Maria because she is your boss and assigned this project to you
- Mike because he got the lead to the sale
- The legal team because they are responsible for the paperwork
Everyone in this scenario is a stakeholder because they all have a vested interest in this project.
Once you have a complete list of the stakeholders, there’s more to do:
- Group the stakeholders into categories to know who is influential to each part of the project. Here are some example groups:
- Those supplying the resources
- Those who are to receive commission from the outcome of the project
- Ask questions to clarify what each stakeholder is looking for and begin to list them in terms of priority to ensure all expectations are addressed timely. There will be times when expectations and priorities of your stakeholders conflict with each other. It’s important to gain trust and keep communication clear. Trust will help you sit down with your stakeholders during the project and address any concerns or issues.
Having a solid understanding of your stakeholders and their expectations will give you a better project flow and outcome. You want to get the project off on the right foot. Good luck.