What Is a Stakeholder in Project Management?
In project management, a stakeholder is an individual or a group of people who are impacted by the outcome of a project/product. They are interested in the success of the product and can be within or outside the company that is sponsoring the project.
Stakeholders are typically the members of the team (project managers or executives) or external representatives – sponsors, investors, customers, and users.
They will be affected by your product at any point along the way and their input can directly impact the outcome.
Product managers should pay enough attention not only to professional PM skills and qualities but also to practice good stakeholder management and communicate with them.
Identifying who are the stakeholders in your product is key because the product’s success depends on it. If your stakeholder isn’t happy, then the product is not a complete success.
Stakeholders and the key project stakeholders: what is the difference?
- Stakeholders, in general, can be represented by single individuals or companies that are affected by the execution or outcome of a project. It doesn’t matter whether the project affects them positively or negatively.
- Key project stakeholders have the real influence and authority. They dictate whether the project is successful or not. The objectives of these people must be satisfied.
Project key stakeholders
Any typical project will probably include some of the following key stakeholders:
- Customers and users of the product.
- Project manager – the leader of the project.
- Team members – the group executing the project.
- Sponsor – the project’s financier.
- Steering committee – the advisory group that provides guidance on key decisions.
- Executives or TOP management – those who direct the organization’s strategy.
- Resource manager – the manager who control resources needed for executing the project.
You may add some roles to this list, depending on the project: owners, sellers, suppliers, contractors, media outlets, and so on.
How to identify project stakeholders?
Your project runs well if your stakeholders are satisfied. If they are not happy, the project will not be completed successfully.
That’s why it’s a crucial moment to identify the stakeholders at the beginning of the project. How to begin searching for stakeholders?
Work with the project charter, contracts, and other docs
The aim of the charter is to authorize the existence of a project and appoints a project manager. It consists of all project information including the objectives, strategy, schedule, budget, assumptions, the info about the project sponsor, and so on. The names and short information about stakeholders should be here as well.
Review the contract agreement and other formal docs to find the stakeholders mentioned there.
The organizational process assets will be also helpful: with their help, you can get a stakeholder register and learn the lessons from past projects. It may also provide some information about the stakeholders.
You should always maintain warm working relationships with various government authorities if they are stakeholders. Their support can be critical to the overall project success.
Interview the experts. You do not need to interview all stakeholders. By interviewing some of them, you will gain a great deal of information about how to work with them and how to build communication.
Conduct brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming is also a good idea to collect useful info on any subject. Use the brainstorming session to identify stakeholders for your project.
Looking for project stakeholders throughout the project life cycle is one of your goals. Influencers, power, and interests may change over time, so you should keep monitoring them as well.
When you know everything about stakeholders, you should keep the process of communication with them through the entire lifecycle of the project.
The constant contact with the stakeholders will help you to recognize timely what they want and what will be better for the project. All things are always changing, so you have to manage these changes or else you threaten the success of your project.