Guest Post by Joe Schembri
Stakeholders are critical to the success of any project and should be included in every major assessment and decision. Stakeholders are defined as the ones who are positively or negatively affected by the course of the project and any resulting solutions or conclusions. This article covers a most important aspect of stakeholder management, namely stakeholder analysis.
Because of their influence, stakeholders can create a positive or negative impact on the project or organization, so it is important to identify your project’s stakeholders from the beginning, learn what they anticipate and give them the attention and consideration they expect.
Stakeholders are typically categorized into two groups – primary or secondary stakeholders. Those who are directly impacted by the project are the primary stakeholders and secondary stakeholders are those who are indirectly impacted. Primary or secondary stakeholders can also be key stakeholders, a group which includes anyone with the power or position to exert significant influence over the project or the organization itself.
Since stakeholders can have such an impact on the success of a project, proper stakeholder management is essential. Conducting a stakeholder analysis is part of effective stakeholder management. Here are five steps to follow.
A proper stakeholder analysis allows project managers to identify individuals or groups that are likely to affect, or be affected by, the project and how to best communicate with them.
During the analysis, project managers will also sort and group stakeholders according to their level of impact. This information is then used to determine how stakeholder needs and interests should be handled during the course of the project.
At this point in the stakeholder analysis, it’s usually a good idea to interview a sample of people from each stakeholder group to find out what they know about the project, their thoughts on the project, and what is most and least appealing about the project to them. This allows the project managers to have a first-person stakeholder perspective on what stakeholders expect to get out of the project and what they believe the project will do for them or their department.
Then, analyze the results of the interviews by recording repeated themes, concerns, and issues for each group and sort them by priority.
Once project managers have successfully identified the stakeholders, developed an understanding of their concerns, and sorted them in order of priority, they can effectively use this information to help gain support for the project. All of the collected information should be recorded on a stakeholder map, which can then be used to develop detailed plans for communication with each stakeholder.
At this point, project managers should be able to identify how they will leverage each stakeholder group to help accomplish the project goals. Of course, gaining the support of stakeholders is just one small part of managing a successful project, but with the influence that they can have on a project, stakeholder analysis is one of the most important things to consider when planning an efficient and successful project.
What are some of your stakeholder analysis tips? Please add to the comments!
About Joe Schembri: Joe is with University Alliance. He writes about various project management topics including stakeholder analysis and PMI’s Project Management Professional certification exam.