Stakeholders in Project Management

  • stakeholdersWho and What are the Stakeholders?
  • What is the definition of a Stakeholder?
  • How many types of Stakeholders exist?

These are some questions which are being asked by many professionals in different PMP related forums, and blogs. Therefore, in this blog I’ll give my best effort to cover all these questions.

“A Stakeholder can be a person, a group, or an organization that may be affected, or have any kind interest in the project or in project’s outcome either directly or indirectly.”

All stakeholders are not equal, every stakeholder has his own expectations, and requirements, and he should be handled the way he expects.

Knowing them, their needs, expectations, and requirements increases the chance of a project’s success. If any important stakeholder is missed then in later stages the project manager may face many difficulties  e.g. causing a delay in project, cost overrun, and in the most severe case – the project may be terminated.

A stakeholder can be:

  • A sponsor
  • Project team
  • Higher management
  • End user of the project’s outcome
  • Someone affected by the project, or the project’s outcome
  • Someone who has any kind of interest in the project, or the project’s outcome

Stakeholders can be grouped into two categories:

  • Internal, and
  • External

Internal Stakeholders

These stakeholders are internal to the organization; e.g.

  • A sponsor
  • Internal customer or client (if project arose due to internal need of an organization)
  • Project team
  • A program manager
  • A portfolio manager
  • Management
  • Other group’s manager internal to the organization; e.g. functional manager, operational manager, admin manager, etc.

External Stakeholders

These stakeholders are external to the organization; e.g.

  • External customer or client (if project arose due to a contract)
  • End users of project’s outcome
  • Supplier
  • Sub-contractors
  • Government
  • Local communities
  • Media

It is extremely important for the project manager to identify all stakeholders at the beginning of the project and create a stakeholder management strategy to manage them as early as possible. It will help him to run his project smoothly.

Stakeholders can be positive or negative. A positive stakeholder sees the project’s positive side, benefited by its success, and helps the project team to successfully complete the project.

On the other hand, a negative stakeholder sees the negative outcome of the project, may be negatively affected by the project, and he will be less likely to see your project being completed successfully.

In some projects the general public will be a stakeholder, and in this case the project manager has to consult public figures, or their leaders to better understand their needs, and expectations.

If the project manager fails to do so, it may cause big trouble for him in the later stages of projects.

Some examples of these kinds of projects are – mining, environment, road, rail or dam building related projects.

Hence, a project manager must identify all stakeholders at a very early stage of the project, and document their requirements, interests, involvement, expectations, type of influence, power, possible impact, and communication requirements in the stakeholder register.

It should be noted that some of these stakeholders will have minimum interest, or influence on the project; however, the project manager has to take care of them as well because no one knows when they will become the dominant stakeholders.

This was all about Project’s Stakeholders, I hope that you would have enjoyed reading it. This topic is also important from a PMP Certification Exam point of view. You may see at least one question in your PMP Certification Exam from this topic.


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