Learn how to identify stakeholders and work with them effectively.
- The term stakeholder means someone who has a stake in the outcome of a project. This includes the customer, departments who have an effect on, or are affected by the project, and even people who work on project tasks. It's crucial for a project manager to know stakeholders' importance, influence, and interest in the project. You also need to know their expectations about and contributions to the project.
That way, you as the project manager can focus on building relationships with the stakeholders who have the most impact on project success. Let's start by identifying major stakeholder roles. The project customer is the person or group who has a problem to solve. For the hotel's welcome center project, the project customer is the customer center director, who management has tasked with increasing conference center revenue.
The project customer brings three crucial things to a project. First, the customer funds the project. For example, the conference center director has a budget for his revenue initiative. Second, the customer has a lot of say about what the project will do. Third, the customer approves deliverables from start to finish.
The next stakeholder role is project sponsor. A sponsor is someone who wants to see the project succeed, and has enough formal authority to help make that happen, like an executive who believes in the project. For the welcome center project, the regional director is the project sponsor. She wants to see it succeed, because she hopes to add welcome centers to other hotels in the chain. Her position gives her enough authority to champion the project.
A sponsor can help prioritize objectives, talk to stakeholders who aren't being supportive, and suggest improvements to the project plan. The third type of stakeholder is a functional or line manager. Functional managers run departments and are accountable for achieving their departments' goals. They also manage the people in their departments who are the very same people you need to staff your project.
Team members are also stakeholders. While they're assigned to your project, their jobs depend on their assignments, and may depend on how well they perform. Finally, any departments or individuals who affect the project, or are affected by it, are stakeholders. For example, the hotel sales department is a stakeholder, because higher conference revenue means more room sales.
Sometimes, it can be challenging to determine who the stakeholders are for your project, identify which ones are most important, and how to work with them effectively. That's where the stakeholder analysis document, or stakeholder register comes in handy. You can store information there as you identify the stakeholders and learn about their part in your project. First, you need to know how your stakeholders are connected to your project, and what motivates them.
Start by including the department, business unit, or company the stakeholder belongs to, and their position in the organization. Next, determine who the stakeholder listens to. That can help if you need to figure out how to deal with an issue with the stakeholder. Identify the project objectives that the stakeholder cares about, and their priority. That way, you know who to talk to if an issue comes up with an objective.
Categorize each stakeholder by their influence and interest in the project. That way, you can prioritize stakeholders so you can efficiently allocate your time managing them. Finally, document the stakeholders contribution to the project, so you know what to expect from him, or who to turn to for things you need. For practice, use the stakeholder analysis spreadsheet here, and fill in information about the stakeholders for your current project, or one you managed in the past.
Stakeholders are crucial to the success of your project. As a project manager, you need to know what makes them tick, how they can help, and how you can keep them happy. To learn more, see the course, Managing Project Stakeholders.
Bonnie Biafore has always been fascinated by how things work and how to make things work better. In this course, she explains the fundamentals of project management, from defining the problem, establishing project goals and objectives, and building a project plan to managing team resources, meeting deadlines, and closing the project. Along the way, she provides tips for reporting on project performance, keeping a project on track, and gaining customer acceptance.
- Defining the components of a project
- What it takes to be a project manager
- Using project management software like Microsoft Project
- Managing project scope, budget, and schedule
- Managing project resources, including people
- Managing project risk
- Initiating a project
- Identifying and managing stakeholders
- Identifying requirements and deliverables
- Developing a project plan
- Building a project schedule
- Assigning resources to tasks
- Understanding the critical path
- Running the project
- Managing teams
- Monitoring performance
- Closing a project