Stakeholders in Project Management

stakeholders

Your project is successful if all of your stakeholders are happy. It may happen that even though you have completed the project and all deliverables are accepted by the client, the project is not successfully completed because some of your stakeholders are not happy.

Therefore it is very important for you to keep all of your stakeholders satisfied if you want to complete your project successfully.

Now many questions may come to mind such as: Who are the stakeholders and what types of stakeholders exist? Whom do you have to satisfy to complete your project successfully?

Therefore, to answer these types of questions I am writing this blog post and I hope after reading it you will have answers to your queries regarding the project stakeholders.

Okay let’s get started.

Stakeholders

As per the PMBOK Guide 5th edition: “A stakeholder is an individual, group, or organization who may affect, be affected by or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project.”

Simply put, you can say that a stakeholder is a person, group of people or an organization that has any kind of interest in your project or is affected by its outcome either directly or indirectly. This may include your project team members, project sponsors, your organization members and people outside to your organization as well.

If the project is small the stakeholder list may be small; however if the project is large and spread out in a large geographical area, you may have a huge number of stakeholders which may include communities or the general public.

All stakeholders are not equal and every stakeholder has different requirements and expectations. You should treat every stakeholder according to their requirements and expectations. Failing to do so can jeopardize your project’s success.

If you know every stakeholder, their needs, expectations and requirements, it will increase the chance of the project’s success. If you miss any important stakeholder you may face many difficulties in the later stages of the project such as: delay in project, cost overrun, and in the most severe cases the project may be terminated.

Type of Project Stakeholders

Project stakeholders can be grouped into two categories:

  1. Internal Stakeholders
  2. External Stakeholders

Internal Stakeholders

Internal stakeholders are internal to the organization. For example:

  • A sponsor
  • An internal customer or client (if the project arose due to an internal need of an organization)
  • A project team
  • A program manager
  • A portfolio manager
  • Management
  • Another 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. For example:

  • An external customer or client (if project arose due to a contract)
  • An end user of project’s outcome
  • A supplier
  • Subcontractors
  • The government
  • Local communities
  • The media

For your project’s success it is very important for you to identify all stakeholders at the beginning of the project and create a strategy to manage them. It will help you run the project with minimum obstruction because the sooner you identify them, the sooner you can start communication and involve them with your project. In this way they will feel connected to the project, can understand the benefit of your project and will support you whenever you need it.

Stakeholders can be positive as well as negative.

A positive stakeholder sees the project’s positive side and is benefitted by its success. These stakeholders help the project management team to successfully complete the project.

On the other hand, a negative stakeholder sees the negative outcome of the project and may be negatively impacted by the project or its outcome. This type of stakeholder is less likely to help your project be completed successfully.

I have been asked many times whether competitors are negative stakeholders. Keep in mind that competitors are not negative stakeholders because to complete your project successfully you have to manage your stakeholders proactively, but you don’t manage your competitors or fulfil their requirements. The objective of your project is not to fulfil your competitors’ requirements.

In some cases, general public can be a stakeholder. In this case it would be impractical to manage the whole population so you will consult their public figures or leaders to better understand their requirements and expectations. Some examples of this type of project are related to mining, the environment, road, rail, dam building, etc.

It is important for you to identify your project stakeholders at a very early stage of the project. You should also note down their details, requirements, expectations, power and influence on the project in the stakeholder register.

Some of these stakeholders will have a minimum interest or influence on the project; however, you have to take care of them as well, because no one knows when they will become dominant stakeholders and if the dominant stakeholders will become less influential.

Summary

Stakeholders are individuals who are impacted by your project or have any kind of interest in it. Stakeholders can be internal, external, positive, negative, high power, low power, etc. However, to complete your project successfully you have manage all these stakeholders and fulfill their expectations. If you fail to do so, your project may not be successfully completed.

This post was all about a project’s stakeholders, and I hope that you enjoyed reading it. This topic is also important from a PMP certification exam point of view. You are going to see many questions in your exam on this topic.

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