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WHO ? Stakeholders

The second question to ask, even before you have really started working on your project, is "Who are the Stakeholders?"

A stakeholder is anyone who has something to gain or something to lose by your project. You might ask, "What do you mean 'Something to lose'"? Here are some examples. In a new IT system, users will lose some familiarity with the old system and will have to learn the new one. In a building renovation, occupants will have to put up with temporary accommodations until the renovation is ready for use. Even in the best projects, some stakeholders will likely lose something, even if only for a while.

A special sub-set of Stakeholders is your Project Team. This group will be discussed under the Human Resources section.

It is important to know and be sensitive to Who your stakeholders are, and what they stand to gain and/or lose by your project. A Stakeholder Register Template (click here) will be a useful tool for planning, and as follow up, throughout your project.

Your Stakeholders are the people who will be with you as you journey through your project; so it important to know and understand their requirements from the project. As Stakeholder influence will be felt most keenly in the early stages of the project, you will want to do this as soon as possible.

Step #1: On your Stakeholder Register, make a list of all the Stakeholders you can think of. This works best if you name individual people, although sometimes you will name a group. Remember to include the members of your project team. Don't leave anyone out. You will refine this list in the next steps.

Step #2: For each stakeholder enter contact information, and preferred method of contact (e-mail, phone, text, etc)

Step #3 Also, for each Stakeholder, decide how much influence (call it Power) that person (or group) has on the outcome of your project. High, medium, low, can be enough. Or you can expand this step to explain how and why they might influence your project. You will want to pay most attention to the 'high' influencers (high Power).

Step#4: Next, for each Stakeholder, determine how much interest that person has in your project. For example one Stakeholder might not have too much interest in your project outcome but carries a lot of power to support you and your ideas. This can be high, medium, low ,or more detailed with whatever their specific interests might be in your project. Again, the 'high' interest people will get most of your attention.

Step #5: A good visual representation of Influence (Power) vs Interest can be mapped onto a Power-Interest Grid. Determine where each of your Stakeholders fits on the grid, then see the notes in the classification quadrant for tips on how to relate to them. Enter each Stakeholders classification (A,B,C,D) onto your Stakeholder Register.

Classification A people are your Key Stakeholders. These include anyone in decision-making or management role who is impacted by the project outcome, such as the Sponsor and the Primary Customer.

Step #6: For (at least the most influential) Stakeholders, determine their requirements from your project. Requirements consist of needs and expectations. At this time fill in any known Requirements. The subject of Requirements will be dealt with when we come to discuss the Scope (What and Where) of your project.

Conclusion: When you have placed Stakeholder Classification onto your Stakeholder Register, you will be ready to manage the Stakeholder Expectations of your project. Successful project management, in the eyes of your Stakeholders, means having their expectations met; and without surprises!

Finally, here is a key to success that you must realize:

just like "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder" so a project's success lies in the minds of your Stakeholders, regardless of how good you, as Project Manager, thinks it turned out. Satisfied Stakeholder expectations will overshadow technical aspects every time. You must manage your Stakeholders' Expectations, then meet those expectations, for a successful project.

After planning, you will want to begin Monitoring and Controlling the outcomes of your project. CLICK HERE and follow the links to find out how to monitor and control Stakeholder Engagement.

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