Who are the stakeholders in project management?
Who are the stakeholders in project management? No matter how agile you try to run your projects, there are bound to be many people who accompany you from project proposal to launch day.
A very important group of these people are project beneficiaries.
Stakeholders can be a source of anxiety and pressure or a source of help. Learning how to identify and manage them is a basic and important skill for any project manager.
Who exactly are the beneficiaries of the project and what do they do?
Simply put, a stakeholder is a person, group, or organization that is affected by the outcome of a project and can affect its success in any way.
This means that people inside your organization, such as the project team, managers, and executives, as well as external stakeholders such as customers, users, and anyone else affected by your project at any stage, are stakeholders. Many people should be aware of them, that’s why it is very important to have a clear understanding of the stakeholders, their importance, and prioritization.
To make this even clearer, let’s review the typical stakeholders you’ll be dealing with and describe their specific duties and responsibilities:
- Project Manager: The person who leads the project. He is the one who has to keep the project on track, guide the team and communicate and manage the rest of the project stakeholders.
- Project Team Members: The group that works on the project and follows the lead of the project manager. Their roles and responsibilities include performing the tasks assigned to them and helping to complete the project.
- Project Sponsor: The person or group that finances the project. They ensure that the project has the necessary financial support to see it through and therefore have a vested interest in and influence over its outcome.
- Executives: high-level management in the organization that implements the project. They drive the company’s strategy and also have a vested interest in its bottom line.
- Customers: People who directly use the results of the project. As the people who pay to use your product, they have a loud and diverse voice when it comes to what they want about the project.
- Resource Managers: Other managers and teams who control the resources needed to complete the project. They hold the resources you need to complete the project and want to have a hand in the outcome.
- Consultants and subcontractors: teams and individuals outside the organization who work on the project. They are responsible for performing the tasks specified in the SOW (Statement of Work).
- Groups affected by the progress of the project: internal and external groups or people affected by the work on the project. These groups may mean people who lose their jobs because of the project.
- Groups affected by the project after its completion: internal and external groups or people who are affected by the completion and launch of the project. These groups can mean partners, users, competitors, or even government groups that will be affected by what you do.
Depending on the size and scope of the project, your list of stakeholders may include all of these groups or only a limited number of them. In any case, each stakeholder will have an opinion on what “success” looks like for this project and these should be treated with caution.
Stakeholders vs. Principal Stakeholders
You must remember that not all stakeholders are the same. While anyone affected by the project is technically a stakeholder, the primary stakeholders are those who have the influence and authority to determine the success of a project.
These are the people who will make or break your project: such as your sponsor, funding groups, or government agencies. You must ensure that their needs are met and satisfied.
Project stakeholder management process
Managing all these stakeholders is not an easy task. However, it is not right to ignore them either. As we said earlier, project stakeholders can make a big contribution to the success of the project, addressing internal (and external) politics and supporting you and your team.
So, how should you manage all your project stakeholders?
As the Project Management Institute writes, “identifying stakeholders, determining their needs and expectations, and, to the extent possible, managing their impact on those requirements is essential to ensuring a successful project.”
Here’s a 3-step process that will help you reduce the risks of dealing with stakeholders and ensure that many of them are happy with the project:
- Stakeholder Identification: Identify and prioritize all potential stakeholders.
- Gain stakeholder buy-in: Find out expectations and develop strategies to address them.
- Ongoing Stakeholder Management: Communicate with the right stakeholders at the right level throughout the project.
1- Identifying and prioritizing the appropriate beneficiaries of the project
Successful stakeholder relationship management begins with knowing who you are dealing with. Although you may think you know everything well, it is better to use a systematic approach to make sure that no mistakes are made.
Brainstorm with your project team.
Ask your team to identify anyone who may be affected by the project. Give everyone time to do this individually and then come together as a team and come up with a specific list.
Every project has a beneficiary. Although you cannot control how these people feel, you can control their impact on the project by identifying, communicating, and managing them properly.
As a project manager, your loyalty leads to the success of the project. Although sometimes a stakeholder can get in the way, you can’t get to the finish line without them. So take the time early to understand who they are, what they need, and how you can manage them. You will be doing yourself a huge favor by doing this.
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