The stakeholder identification process is one of the most important processes in project management, because projects are undertaken to fulfil the requirements of stakeholders.
To satisfy and fulfil the requirements of your stakeholders, you will have to find them, involve them, and keep them engaged with your project.
In the fourth edition of the PMBOK Guide “Identify Stakeholders” is a process of the communication management knowledge area.
However, in the fifth edition of the PMBOK Guide, PMI has added one more knowledge area, “Project Stakeholder Management”, and identifying stakeholders is a part of this knowledge area.
PMI recognizes the importance of stakeholder management, and that is why they have made it a separate knowledge area in the PMBOK Guide.
Before we start discussing the stakeholder identification process, let’s have a look at the definition of a stakeholder.
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.”
Put more simply, you can say that if someone has any kind of interest your project or is affected by the project or its outcome, or has any kind of interest in your project, they are your project’s stakeholder.
Some examples of project stakeholders are: a project sponsor, higher management, a team member, etc.
To successfully complete the project, you will have to satisfy the needs of all of your project’s stakeholders, and the first step in this process is to identify your stakeholders.
Identifying Project Stakeholders
Your project is successful if your stakeholders are happy. If stakeholders are not satisfied then your project will not be completed successfully. Therefore, you must identify the stakeholders at the beginning of the project and manage them throughout the project’s life cycle.
You should start this process as soon as the project charter is created.
Now you might be wondering how you should begin searching for stakeholders, and whom you should approach to find stakeholders.
Don’t worry; in this blog post I am going to give you a general idea to help you in the stakeholder identification process.
Okay, let’s get started.
Start With the Project Charter
The project charter is a document which authorizes the existence of a project and appoints a project manager. This document contains high level project information such as the project objectives, budget, schedule, assumptions and constraints, the name of the project sponsor, the name of top management, etc.
Here you can find the names of some influential stakeholders.
Review the Contract Documents
If the project is undertaken due to any contractual agreement, you should review the contract agreement to find the stakeholders mentioned in the contract.
The contract agreement can provide you with the names of suppliers, local agents, contact people from the client’s side, etc.
Review the Organizational Process Assets and Enterprise Environmental Factors
A review of the enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets can provide you with many stakeholders.
From the organizational process assets you can get a stakeholder register, as well as the lessons learned from past projects which may give some information about the stakeholders.
The government is a key stakeholder and you must maintain a good working relationship with various government authorities. Their support can be critical to the success of your project. From enterprise environmental factors you can get the information about which government entity is your stakeholder. A review of the governmental regulations and industry standards can help you find more stakeholders.
Interview the Experts
You don’t interview all stakeholders. This practice should be limited to highly influential stakeholders and is to be done on a one-to-one basis. By interviewing the experts, you can gain a great deal of information about the stakeholders.
During the interview, you should ask open ended questions and you can keep one team member with you to note down important points.
Conduct Brainstorming Sessions
A brainstorming session is a good tool to collect information on any given subject. You can use this tool to identify stakeholders for your project. You can hold brainstorming sessions with your team members and experts.
During a brainstorming session, try to find the answers to the following questions:
- Who is directly involved with the project?
- Who is indirectly involved with the project?
- Who may be affected by the project?
- Who may be affected by the project’s outcome?
- Who gains or loses from the project’s success?
- Who wants to complete the project successfully and who doesn’t?
- Who are the suppliers?
- Who is the user of the end result of the project?
- Who are the competitors?
- Who are the shareholders?
- Is any local community impacted by the project or its outcome?
- Who has the authority to influence the project or its outcome?
- Who has the authority to make the project succeed?
- Who can make your project fail?
Stakeholder identification is a continuous process which happens till the project ends. You have to keep looking for project stakeholders throughout the project life cycle. As the project moves forward you may find some new stakeholders introduced to your project, and you will also notice that some of your old stakeholders may no longer have any interest in your project. Power and interest may also change over time; therefore, you should keep monitoring it as well.
Once you collect the list of stakeholders, you will record it in the stakeholder register. In this register, not only do you note their names and titles, but you also must record all relevant information about them such as their interest, power, influence, expectations, requirements, communications requirements, etc. This will help you in drafting the stakeholder management strategy.
The identify stakeholders process is used to identify all project stakeholders. Identifying stakeholders is an iterative process, and this process must be continued throughout the project life cycle. You have to be careful while identifying stakeholders that any important stakeholder is not missed. If this happens, the future of your project is not safe and you may face many problems in completing it. This is a very important process, and only after completing it you can define the strategy to manage stakeholders.
Here is where this blog post on “How to Identify Project Stakeholders” ends. If you have something to share, you can do so through the comments section.