Stakeholder Identification: A key to Project Success

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11st Mar, 2021
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23rd Jun, 2017
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Stakeholder Identification: A key to Project Success

Question: You are leading a project as a Project Manager for developing a Client’s new website. Neither your company nor your Client specializes in creating websites, yet this Client needs to be suitably impressed to ensure future business with them. Extremely stringent deadlines have been imposed for the completion of the project with both the Client and your organization losing dearly if there are any delays.

The Charter has already been signed off and the Project Management Plan approved for this fast track project. It is agreed that frequent meetings along with reports shall be submitted to the Client to keep their personnel informed of the project’s status and highlight any potential reasons for delay much before such catastrophes occur. You have been able to keep the schedule and budget under control and the obligatory review with the Client is being planned.

It is then you are informed that the entire effort may be cancelled because the specifications of the website are totally unacceptable to the Client. What is the MOST likely reason for this termination?

Option Answers:

  • The Client desired changes to the Project Management Plan that were not complied to.
  • Level of commitment of the Client was not analysed
  • The Client’s key stakeholder was not identified and involved in the project
  • The Client was unhappy with the status reporting

Well, before we discuss the right answer, do note that important pointers for solving long worded questions shall be discussed separately in this blog.

The answer to the above Question is C

It is very essential that all the key decision makers, influencers and their requirements are identified early in the project to ensure that they do not bulldoze a smooth-running project into oblivion as narrated in the above question. A single powerful influencer can jeopardise an entire project if not satisfied or due to the sole reason that he or she was not given due respect or attention (in comparison to his peers) on the project.

Such seemingly minor things may come back to haunt you back and even damage your smoothly running endeavour! Even in the above question, if the assessment and identification of stakeholders was being carried out throughout the project, there was a good likelihood that the undesirable termination would have been avoided.

Let us see in detail, Identify Stakeholders, first process in the “Stakeholder Management Knowledge Area”.

  • Identify Stakeholders

Stakeholders are identified as part of the project initiation, and this list requires to be reviewed and updated as the project progresses. The process involves identifying everyone remotely connected with the project (individuals, groups, or organizations) that could impact or be impacted by a decision, activity, or outcome of the project. It also entails analyzing and documenting relevant information regarding their interests, involvement, interdependencies, influence, and potential impact on project success. Identifying all stakeholders in the initial stage itself helps in better manageable projects as it helps in factoring all stakeholder’s interests at the planning stage itself. Obviously, in case any new stakeholders are identified subsequently and their requirements understood, the plans may need to be subsequently revised to accommodate those requirements.

Identify Stakeholder Management

Knowledge Area: Stakeholder Management

Process Group: Initiation

PMBOK 13.1

 

InputsTools and TechniquesOutputs
  1. Project charter
  2. Procurement documents
  3. Enterprise environmental factors
  4. Organizational process assets

 

  1. Stakeholder analysis
  2. Expert judgement
  3. Meetings

 

  1. Stakeholder register

 

It is to be remembered that the “Identify Stakeholders” step is an iterative and recurring process and a glaring example of this is the fact that Procurement Documents are an input to this process. During the execution stage of the project, as orders are placed for external services and supplies, the finalised vendors become project’s stakeholders and a good amount of thought needed at that time is required to enable them to be handled carefully and their performance adequately monitored to eventually achieve a successful result.

Do also remember that changes within a project for even within an organization (promotion of a Senior Manager to Director) may result in new additions to the list of Stakeholders or to the influence/impact of existing ones. Another reason for additions may be that the team may have simply missed stakeholders in the initial stage itself. Reassessing the list of stakeholders during the life of the project is vital in controlling and steering the project in a better way to achieve desired results. It is frustrating and immensely damaging to have new stakeholders and their requirements added late in the project as it shall probably result in changed requests and lead to inevitable delays and escalations in cost.

Stakeholder Analysis

The work of identifying stakeholders and analysing them is done not just by the Project Manager alone. The entire project team, in consultation with subject matter experts, project managers of past similar projects and even senior executives need to be involved in this. Records of past projects and data gathering techniques help in determining and analysing stakeholders.

Stakeholder Register

A document that assimilates all the information collected related to stakeholders is called the Stakeholder Register. It is maintained by the Project Manager and his team. All the information about stakeholders is compiled in this stakeholder register, an output of the “Identify Stakeholder” process. The template for the register is derived from the Organization’s Process Assets (OPAs). The Stakeholder Register may include each stakeholder’s name, title, role, major requirements and expectations, impact and influence, attitude about the project, classification and other relevant information that may be populated as the project progresses and more information comes in.

The “Identify Stakeholder” process produces the Stakeholder Register that is an input to other processes:

Sr. No.Knowledge AreaProcess GroupProcess
1ScopePlanningCollect Requirements
2QualityPlanningPlan Quality Management
3CommunicationsPlanningPlan Communications Management
4RiskPlanningPlan Risk Management
5RiskPlanningIdentify Risks
6ProcurementPlanningPlan Procurement Management
7StakeholderPlanningPlan Stakeholder Management

 

  1. Input to Collect Requirements: The stakeholder register identifies who shall provide information about the requirements and captures major expectations of the stakeholders.
  2. Input to Plan Quality Management: The stakeholder register aids in identifying those stakeholders having a particular interest in, or impact on, quality.
  3. Input to Plan Communications Management: The stakeholder register provides information on which stakeholders have specific requirements by which project status and the issues need to be communicated to them.
  4. Input to Plan Risk Management: The stakeholder register provides details and overview of the roles of the stakeholders on the project.
  5. Input to Identify Risks: The stakeholder register is useful for requesting inputs from the stakeholders to identify risks and enable them to be involved in the risk identification process.
  6. Input to Plan Procurement Management: The stakeholder register enables appropriate plans to be finalised to manage procurement by providing details of the project’s external partners (suppliers and service providers) and their interests on the project.
  7. Input to Plan Stakeholder Management: The stakeholder register provides information needed to finalise the best plans for the effective engagement of the stakeholders.

As seen above, the Stakeholder Register is an important input to several planning processes. Keeping a close eye and updating the Register as the project progresses shall help the Project Manager to understand the ever-changing needs of the stakeholders.

Profile

Vidhi Raj

Blog Author

Vidhi has a strong Project Management experience, is an MBA (Energy and Infrastructure) and an Electronics and Communication engineer. She is also one of the youngest “PMI India Champions” advocating PMI amongst her mentees, friends and colleagues. She is an avid blogger, an author and teaches project management concepts to Management Students with passion and enthusiasm