Stakeholder Analysis

October 9, 2009

Stakeholders need to be identified early on in the project life cycle. You need them to buy-in into the success of the project so that you are able to use their influences toward maximizing positive aspects and for minimizing negative impacts on the progress of the project. You classify the stakeholders by their interest, influence and involvement so that focusing on the specific relationships becomes easy for the project manager.

Stakeholder Analysis – what’s involved?

You need to analyze project charter, procurement documents, and organizational process assets. These will be available in document form in the organization. Besides you need to look at organizational environmental factors. These would give you clear clues as to who the relevant stakeholders might be.

The project charter should tell you about internal and external parties who might be affected by the project outcome. These would include people like customers, project sponsors, groups, departments and other organizations and of course team members. Quite often the project is the result of a procurements activity or a regular contract. The parties involved in the contract are important stakeholders without a doubt. Suppliers involved are key members too. Documents that have been created because of organizational project processes are the process assets. These include stakeholder register templates, register from other projects and the lessons learnt documents from other similar projects. Environmental factors such as regulatory requirements or industry standards (product standards etc.) need to be considered. These could point to additional stakeholders beyond the obvious ones. Company culture would reveal stakeholders not obvious from the org chart either.

You need to create a stakeholder register and a management strategy. The register should contain information about their detailed identification, classification as internal/external and supporter/neutral/resistor etc. Assessment information such as major requirements, main expectations, and influence level in the project phases etc. need to be recorded.

Analysis itself is a three step process. In step 1 one identifies the obvious key stakeholders. You interview them to find others affected by the project and include them too. In step 2 identify the potential impact or support each can generate and classify them. There are several models available for classification. Step 3 is to assess how the stakeholders would react to various situations so that you know how to influence them for increasing their positive impact and reduce negative impacts on the outcome.

Expert judgment as to who else is a stakeholder adds value to the list. Experts in the form of senior management, project managers in similar projects, other stakeholders, domain experts and various industry groups, units within the organization and industrial and professional bodies are the ones to seek guidance from.

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