When will you say that your project is successfully completed?
You say so when the deliverable is accepted and the project stakeholders are happy.
If any of these conditions is not fulfilled, you cannot say that your project is successfully completed.
Therefore, you have to manage your project stakeholders according to their requirements and expectations if you want to complete your project successfully.
To manage your stakeholders effectively, first of all you will classify them and then you will develop a strategy to manage these stakeholders according to their requirements.
After completing the stakeholder identification, you will classify them. To classify stakeholders, you will ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the power of the stakeholder?
- How much influence do they have on the project?
- What is the interest level of the stakeholder?
- How much do they desire to be involved with the project?
Once you get the answers to these questions, you can classify the stakeholders. Some of the most popular classification models are as follows:
- Power and interest
- Power and influence
- Influence and impact
- Power, urgency and legitimacy
Now let’s discuss each classification in brief.
Power and Interest
In this type of classification, you group the stakeholders according to their power and level of interest in the project or its outcome.
You can give them the following attributes: high power or low power, high interest or low interest.
Power and Influence
Here, stakeholders are grouped according to their power and level of influence on the project or its outcome.
In this type of classification, you can give stakeholders the following attributes: high power or low power, high interest or low interest.
Influence and Impact
This classification is based on the influence and impact of the stakeholders on the project or its outcome.
You can give stakeholders the following attributes: high influence or low influence, high impact or low impact.
Power, Urgency and Legitimacy
This model is also known as the Salience Model. Unlike other classification models, this model uses three parameters to classify project stakeholders. Here, stakeholders are classified as per their power, urgency and legitimacy.
Here you give the following attributes to stakeholders: core, dominant, dangerous, dependent, latent, discretionary, and demanding.
You have identified the project stakeholders and classified them, and you know who is a more powerful and influential stakeholder and who is not. So now you will develop your strategy to focus on the powerful and influential stakeholders. This will help you win their active support and you can save your energy by focussing less on the low power and low influential stakeholders.
Stakeholder Management Strategy
Among all the models discussed above, the power/interest model is the most famous. In this model you draw a chart that consists of vertical and horizontal lines as shown in the figure below. The horizontal line shows interest and the vertical line represents power.
In this model, you can divide stakeholders into four categories: high power – high interest, high power – low interest, low power – high interest, and low power – low interest.
The strategies to manage these stakeholders are as follows:
- Stakeholders with high power and high interest should be managed with the utmost care.
- Stakeholders with high power and low interest should be kept satisfied.
- Stakeholders with low power and high interest should be kept informed.
- Stakeholders with low power and low interest require less effort than the rest. They should only be monitored.
As a project manager, it is your job to keep looking at each stakeholder and their requirements, because you never know when a low power stakeholder will become one who is high power and influential. Likewise, a powerful stakeholder may become powerless in a later stage of the project.
The purpose of a stakeholder management strategy is to increase the support and minimize the negative impacts of the stakeholders. A successful stakeholder management strategy, if planned carefully and followed accordingly, can ensure a fruitful ending to your project.
Failing to do so can have a devastating effect on your project.
For example, a few years back an automobile company tried to open a manufacturing plant in India. They collaborated with the state government and bought the land to construct the plant. The construction of the plant was almost complete and then local farmers from whom the land was acquired became agitated and started making demands.
The distress spread throughout the state, and finally the company had to build the plant in another state. This caused a huge loss to the company, and embarrassment to the state government.
The reason for this loss was: they did not gain the confidence of local stakeholders at the beginning of the project. If they had involved them in the decision making process the situation would have been different.
So you see, you have to start managing your stakeholders from the very beginning of the project. It will help the project advance according to their requirements, your project will run smoothly and the quality of your project will improve. If you win the support of your stakeholders, they will actively assist you and you may not face any problems in accessing resources.
It is very important for you to understand the communication needs of your stakeholders. Communicating regularly with them will ensure that they understand the project’s requirements and they feel connected to the project.
The stakeholder management plan may contain sensitive information which cannot be shared with everyone. Therefore, keep this document in a secure place.
Before I end this blog post, let’s revise some key points.
Stakeholders can be classified based on their power – interest, power – influence, influence – impact, and power – urgency – legitimacy. Among all, the power – interest classification is the most widely used to classify stakeholders.
A stakeholder management strategy is a plan which helps you to keep all stakeholders satisfied by fulfilling their expectations and requirements. It helps you avoid scope creep, and mitigates issues that may cause problems for the project. This plan ensures that you receive full cooperation from the stakeholders with minimal obstruction. And lastly, this plan should be kept in a secure place because it may contain sensitive information that cannot be shown to everybody.
Stakeholder identification, stakeholder classification, and stakeholder management are the processes which should be performed in the early stages of the project because they help you shape the project and win support from the stakeholders. The project is all about managing stakeholder requirements, and if you failed to do so, your project will not have a successful ending. You should start building trusting relationships with the stakeholders from the beginning of the project, because they can make your project either succeed or fail.
Here is where this blog post on “Stakeholder Classification and Management Strategy”. If you have something to share, you can do so through the comments section.