identify project stakeholders

Today, we will talk about how to identify stakeholders in project management.

Project management is about managing stakeholders. Projects exist to fulfill the stakeholders’ requirements. If they are not happy, you cannot say that your project was a success.

The PMBOK Guide describes a stakeholder as an individual, group, or organization that may be affected by or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project.

Put simply, if someone has any interest in or is affected by your project, they are your stakeholder. 

Examples of stakeholders include the project manager, project sponsor, higher management, and team members.

You want to complete your project with minimal headaches and hassles. So, you must identify your project stakeholders early and then engage with them throughout the project life-cycle.

How to Identify Stakeholders in Project Management?

You start identifying stakeholders process as soon the sponsor signs the project charter.

During this process, you will identify your project’s stakeholders and record this information in the stakeholders’ register. The information may include interests, influence, and impact on the project.

The following project management documents and techniques will help you find your stakeholders:

  • Project Charter
  • Contract Documents
  • Procurement Documents
  • OPA and EEF
  • Experts Interviews 
  • Brainstorming Sessions

Project Charter

A project charter name the project manager and officially starts the project. This document contains other high-level information, like the name of the project manager, client, sponsor, other influential stakeholders, and more.

You will find the names of the key stakeholders in the project charter.

Contract Documents

If you confirmed the project through a contractual agreement, review the contract documents carefully.

The contract agreement can give you the names of suppliers, local agents, and contacts from the client’s side.

OPA and EEF

Reviewing the enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets can reveal many stakeholders.

The stakeholder register and lessons learned documents from past projects can also help you find more.

The government is a key stakeholder for any project, and their support is critical to the success of your project. You must maintain a good working relationship with various governmental authorities. You can get information on government entities from the enterprise environmental factors.

Furthermore, reviewing governmental regulations and industry standards can help you find more stakeholders for your project.

Interviews with Experts

You don’t have to interview all stakeholders, but you should use this technique for the influential ones. You can gain a great deal of information this way.

Try to ask open-ended questions during the interview and consider keeping one team member with you to record the information.

Brainstorming Sessions

Brainstorming is a good technique for collecting information and identifying stakeholders for your project. You can brainstorm with your team members and experts.

Try to find the answers to the following questions during the brainstorming session:

  • Who is directly or indirectly involved with the project?
  • Who may be affected by the project?
  • Who gains or loses?
  • Who wants to complete the project successfully?
  • Who are the suppliers?
  • Who will use the project’s deliverable?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • Who are the shareholders?
  • Who has the authority over the project and its outcome?
  • Who has the authority to provide support?
  • Who can cause your project to fail?

Stakeholder identification is a continuous process; you must keep looking for them throughout the project life cycle.

As the project progresses, you may find that new stakeholders come on board. A few of your old ones may lose interest in your project. Power and interest may change over time, so keep tabs on stakeholders’ attributes.

You will record the stakeholders’ information in the stakeholder register. A minimalist register will have the following data:

  • Name
  • Title
  • Interest
  • Power
  • Requirements
  • Expectations

This will help you in drafting the stakeholder management strategy.

Summary

Identifying stakeholders is an iterative process. You should repeat it throughout the project’s life cycle, making sure that you don’t omit any stakeholders because the future of your project is in danger if you miss any.

Identifying stakeholders in the project management is an important process from a PMP exam point of view, so understand it well.

How do you identify your project stakeholders? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.