A stakeholder is anyone [or any group] who can positively or negatively affect the outcome of the project.
Risk is anything that can positively or negatively affect the outcome of the project. So, identifying and managing project stakeholders is an important step to identifying and managing project risk.
Each project has a unique set of stakeholders, influencers, and customers. There’s a fine line between each, but all fall under the stakeholder umbrella. Each stakeholder may have their view, their filter, their domain, their turf, and their livelihood they are concerned about and protect against change.
It is critical to know as many project stakeholders as possible, what they can contribute, or how they can support the project. The best case is that stakeholders improve the project roll out and adoption.
Stakeholder management is crucial to:
- Identify potential advocates and critics of the change;
- Eliminate resistance to change;
- Create a team atmosphere;
- Establish a level of trust;
- Create a sense of ownership for participants involved in the change; and
- Raise the level of communication effectiveness
Stakeholders include: employees, customers, managers, business units, executives, suppliers, partners, vendors, and departments; groups as well as individuals. Prior to a project’s go ahead we identify these groups and individuals who have a stake in the success, and failure, and make sure that we understand the key concerns and motivations of these audiences in order to mitigate risk of over looking or under appreciating their position.
The goal is not to win all stakeholders over, but to discover someone or something that may have previously been overlooked to help the project. Whether that is a new voice of reason, caution, or even a new champion who was simply waiting to be invited in. An impact assessment should reveal a host of stakeholders to engage and talk with.
Assessing stakeholders identifies a range of interests to consider when planning and managing projects. Stakeholder awareness invites people into the change they will become a part of and is worth any amount of time to make sure there is an accurate pulse on who is affected by the project.
Stakeholder planning attempts to generate support through awareness, communication, feedback, and collaboration. Stakeholder management ensures that the necessary support for change exists.
Stakeholder Management will identify individuals or groups affected by and capable of influencing the change process. For all stakeholder groups we need to clearly understand
- Impacts (should have a healthy start on this from the impact analysis step)
- Potential reactions (to current/planned project activity)
- Accountability and actions
The steps involved in stakeholder planning and execution are:
- Identify all key stakeholders and conduct interviews (as required)
- Conduct analysis
- Develop plan to manage stakeholders – to include communication and change management
- Implement initial set of actions
This blog and link to the downloadable and customizable Stakeholder Analysis template coincides with slides 35 – 39 of the eBook.
Of special benefit within the file are the columns titled “Predisposition”. In this case predisposition is someone who holds a particular attitude, or acts in a particular way. Getting a sense on people’s predisposition to the project is a good way to understand perceptions and concerns. This information is great to build communication plans.
Columns D, E, F, and G of the attached file allow you to identify each stakeholder’s predisposition to the project:
- Negative Support/Low Influence;
- Negative Support/Moderate Influence;
- Negative Support/High Influence;
- Positive Support/Low Influence;
- Positive Support/Moderate Influence; or
- High Support/High Influence
This is in no way a scientific study, but just a best-guess on how the stakeholder perceive the project and how you perceive their influence on the project’s success. With these columns you can plot their current state on the second tab of the file: Stakeholder Matrix.
Once plotted on the stakeholder matrix, you identify where your communication strategy is best served and build a plan to communicate and engage. This is not only a baseline view of stakeholder impact, but a management, monitoring, and measurement tool along the project road.
The stakeholder matrix also is a great performance management tool for the project: moving low support/high influence stakeholders to high support/high influence stakeholders. This stakeholder matrix provides important details for your stakeholder management plan.
The Stakeholder Matrix is on the second tab of the Stakeholder Analysis Template Excel file and is fully customizable.
The only way to manage projects for organization success is to identify and manage the stakeholders that the project impacts.
For highly-influential individuals we need to clearly understand:
- What does this individual stand to gain and lose?
- What is the quality of our relationship with this individual?
- How does this individual process information? Make decisions?
- Relationship owners and action planning
To move stakeholders from awareness to commitment you need to identify stakeholders risk before project launch.
With a stakeholder analysis and a subsequent stakeholder plan you will identify and address various concerns, issues, beliefs, and expectations that stakeholders may express.
As I’ve mentioned before, participation is the difference between getting a project done and getting a project accomplished. This is the beginning of risk management: managing scope is managing the risk.
No doubt I got some things wrong, or left out some important ideas. Please let me know what you think and suggestions you have for me to add value.