So who are stakeholders?
Stakeholders are any group or individuals who have an interest in or are impacted by the project and can be divided into two main areas, primary and secondary stakeholders.
Primary stakeholders are those directly involved with the project and the scope that the project entails.
Secondary stakeholders are part of the environment of the project, i.e. they have an influence on the project but are not directly part of it.
Stakeholder views and interests must be included in the Business case. They may have high/low interest and high/low influence in the project. They can range between ‘blockers’ and ‘supporters’.
It is important to understand the values and issues that stakeholders have in order to address them and keep everyone on board for the duration of the project.
By using the stakeholder grid, you will be able to assess the balance of stakeholders for and against the project and which are of the greatest risk or the greatest supporters of the project.
The process of stakeholder management should be as follows:
- Identify – Identify the stakeholders and assess where they fall in the above grid.
It is important when making this list that you gather and collate as much information as possible about the individuals and groups on it. This will enable you to start thinking through appropriate and targeted communication with them.
- Analyse – Analyse their need, objections, and concerns.
Some of your stakeholders needs will be more important than others and therefore prioritisation will be required to maintain their support with your project.
- Communication – Establish what and how you are going to communicate with them.
You have identified and analysed your stakeholders and now it is important to find an innovative and efficient manner in which to communicate with them. It is helpful to have a communication plan in place so that the process runs smoothly without negatively impacting on productivity.
- Management – Continually review, manage and communicate effectively with each stakeholder.
Involve stakeholders in creating a set of realistic goals and objectives. Stakeholders are not always keen to participate, but engaging them at the early stage of the project will help ensure success. Stakeholders are most likely to be actively engaged by a set of goals and objectives aimed at improving business performance and thereby take an interest in the project.
All projects need a clear set of deliverables aimed at achieving the project goals and objectives. These should be communicated clearly to the stakeholders and efforts made to ensure that there is clear understanding regarding the quality and composition of each deliverable.
Once the project is up and running, it is crucial to communicate progress of the project to both the project team and the stakeholders. Regular progress reports are probably the most effective means of communication.