Stakeholders…. The Basics

According to an article published in BBC.co.uk, in 2008, by the name of ‘Why do councils love jargon?’, ‘stakeholder’ is among the top ten classic jargon used by the English council. In fact, the term ‘stakeholder’ is also recognized by the UK government as well as defined by the Learning and Skills Council. Organizations are required to identify as well as manage their stakeholders in order to leverage their financial or personal support, successful execution of projects and hence improve their company’s performance. Let us therefore discuss how to effectively manage stakeholders in the best interest of the company’s growth and success and the success of your projects.

But before we begin, you need to understand that effective stakeholder management involves identifying and analyzing the stakeholders.

Stakeholder Identification

Identifying the key stakeholders is a process that involves several systematic steps. Following are the questions that you can raise in order to identify potential stakeholders for your project.

  • Who stands to gain or lose from the project?
  • Who has the ability to influence decisions and alter the outcome?
  • Who commands decision-making rights?
  • Who are the people on your mind that determine and influence the core strategies?
  • Who controls resources?
  • Whose needs, problems and interests matter to the project?

Once you come up with a few names for being considered as the key stakeholders, it is time to carry out an analysis of the stakeholder. So what is stakeholder analysis and how should it ideally be done?

Stakeholder Analysis

A periodic analysis of the stakeholders’ interests and attitude towards a project or projects is necessary for achieving success and growth. However, stakeholder analysis (SA) should be carried out at the very beginning of a new project.

In order to conduct stakeholder analysis, project managers, change managers and their teams can employ several methods to gather information about the stakeholders’ interests and the level of impact they have due to any change. While you can simply interview the stakeholders you need to look at more than that, understand their environment, the systems they interact with and processes impacted. Apart from that, there are several tools that apply on both qualitative and quantitative data to determine the stakeholder’s position, influence and interests with regards to any particular project.

The outcome of the analysis should be that you understand the impact of the project outcomes on them, be that positive and negative; what are the success factors for that stakeholders; what their involvement needs to be throughout the project; and how you are going to communicate and work with them and keep them informed.

As part of this analysis you may need to collect current state data so that you can adequately measure the success of failure of the end result on the stakeholders.

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholder management, in simple terms, is to keep the stakeholders that are associated with the project, happy, involved and informed. The main step involved in this stage is effective communication with the stakeholders to get and maintain their support.

One should have a stakeholder plan in place, which is monitored and updated regularly to ensure you are effectively managing your stakeholders needs and expectations. You can use advanced project management tools and methodologies to determine the type of communication you need to win confidence of the key stakeholders and to manage this process.

A great tool that can be used to work with your stakeholders is the stakeholder activity schedule.  It is an easy to understand pictorial representation of everyone’s involvement and dependencies.

There are many qualified and experienced project professionals such as project managers, directors and change managers who can help you through stakeholder management right from the very first step. Having an experienced mentor to get guidance and wisdom from can be hugely beneficial, because effective stakeholder management can be one of the most challenging parts of running a project.

What are some of your stakeholder management tips?

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