When building and engaging in a project, stakeholders play an important role in the outcome of the project. To be frank, without stakeholders, there cannot be a project.
Stakeholders are essentially people who have an interest in and are affected positively or negatively by a current project. Stakeholders can be represented by an individual or an organisation; and the engagement between a stakeholder/company or and individual is crucial.
Project stakeholders can be separated into two types:
• Internal stakeholders
• External stakeholders
The person identified as an internal stakeholder is poised with the task of juggling a whole range of requirements coming from the client organisations, which then results in them becoming a subject of many different influences which may affect the project. These include: Employees, Owners, Managers, Board of Directors and Shareholders.
External stakeholders are not associated with the client organisation, however they have a keen interest in the project. These will include: Suppliers, Customers, Investors, Government and Regulatory Authorities.
As there can be challenges when it comes to managing external stakeholders as it usually involves a number of people, as well as their levels of power being much different than internal stakeholders, understanding how to identify the key stakeholders that will help to prioritise management resources will be beneficial.
Managing stakeholders takes place each day during the project. Candidates who seek a career in project management must have strong communication skills, being able to meet their needs and expectations, whilst addressing issues and judging appropriate stakeholder management. You need to develop appropriate strategies to work with the stakeholders and execute the project. Once team members have decided which stakeholder plan and approach to use, there are three steps they are advised to take.
Involve stakeholders throughout the project – Stakeholder management begins by involving relevant stakeholders throughout the project. As they are going to be a part of the project from beginning to end, it’s important to keep them up to date with the process and make them feel valued. By doing this, you ensure that you are constantly taking into account their wants, needs and expectations – minimising the risk of disagreement or last minute changes influencing the overall cost.
Effective communication is key – Communication is perhaps the most important skill you should have when it comes to project management. Without clear and effective communication, stakeholder involvement will not be possible. Regular meetings throughout the process will be beneficial. This could begin with a ‘kick-off meeting’, followed by a ‘project status meeting’ in the middle, then ending with a ‘project review’.
Document each stakeholder’s roles and needs - Whilst stakeholders are having their input and the project is progressing, it is a good idea to have this information down in a document or spreadsheet. This will help the person overseeing the project to keep on top of everyone’s roles and responsibilities; making changes or delegating when necessary. These steps help you ensure the project goes in the right direction.
Whilst stakeholders are important to the outcome of a project, the way you communicate and involve them is also vital to the success of failure of the project. By implementing the three step process and strategic stakeholder analysis to match, this increases chances of success. Building good relationships is necessary in project management, and engaging with influential groups increases the chances of success.