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Stakeholders

1 June 2010

When beginning a new project, an important part of its planning is identifying "Stakeholders" by mapping out all those people that affect the project or are affected by it in order to prevent and reduce future conflicts that may harm the project's success. Many projects are stalled or stopped because someone forgot to involve a certain factor, either by ignoring this person or by not taking this person's importance into consideration. Many a time it is enough to forget to email someone and the tension begins building up. In order to deal with all these factors that can affect the project, I'll explain in this review the importance of the subject and will also suggest several ways to deal with Stakeholders. Let's begin.


What does the term "Stakeholders" even mean?

The term refers to anyone actively involved in the project or those whose interests are affected (for better or worse) by the project (according to the PMBOK's definition). In other words, anyone who the project concerns somehow: suppliers, clients, government agencies, employees, interest groups etc. if these aren't taken into consideration when during the project planning process, there is a big chance this project will fail.

I will now describe a few phases that will assist in recognizing these stakeholders and channel them for the success of the project:

Stage 1

Identifying stakeholders: the first stage is to define the goal of analyzing stakeholders, to identify all potential users that the project effects and map them out (this mapping can be done in map-form, table, etc).


How do we identify?

Besides the project's distinct stakeholders: the client, the supplier, and the users, there are others affected by the project vicariously-and they should be identified as well. This can be done by paying careful attention during different events (office, meetings, hallway conversations, status discussions) to questions like "who is dominant now?" "Why does this person react positively/negatively?" "who is associated with this person?" (For example, if this stakeholder is a manager- who does she/he listen to, who are his/her friends?).


Stage 2

At this stage, after we understood who the "main players" and "supporting roles", we'll try to understand how and why they affect and are affected by the project either positively or negatively, how much influence do they have, are they close to other influencers in the organization etc.


Stage 3

This is the practical stage in which we invest thought to the manner in which we can get these "influencers" to influence the "stakeholders" for the benefit of the project.

Hereby are a few examples of utilizing stakeholders:

  • Constant updates during the project

  • Participating in launching/conclusion events

  • Attaching and forwarding mails

  • Hallway meetings

  • Lunch together, coffee etc.


In conclusion, it is important that this process is not performed only at the beginning of the project; rather accompany it throughout its duration. Furthermore, during the project check if any new stakeholders have suddenly appeared. If these are indeed located, perform the three stages described above again.

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