Project managers know that stakeholder engagement is important. But Project Managers have loads to do to mange the project. Why analyse your stakeholders? Everyone knows who is involved in the project, so analysis is a wasted effort. From the point of a project team with a mountain of work ahead this can seem extremely attractive. But stakeholder engagement is likely to be flawed if the analysis is poor or worse still no analysis takes place.
Stakeholder Types and Roles
Stakeholders do not just come in one size. Stakeholders have many different interests and levels of involvement in the project. They go right the way from an executive sponsor who may have originally commissioned the project, all the way down to internal and external stakeholders, that are customers. The project manager and project team are clearly stakeholders in any project they are trying to deliver. But the results they are trying to achieve should satisfy the need or objective of the ultimate customer. In a simple project you may be able to define a reduced range of roles; setting stakeholder types to a minimum. Whatever the size of project you need to be able to confirm those that are involved directly with the execution of the project, and those that will be affected by its outcome.
Once you have defined key subsets of stakeholders how you subdivide that it’s up to you. There is a merit in keeping it as simple as possible. The types and roles you assign to your stakeholders allows you to consider in more detail how you can plan stakeholder engagement and communication. After all we are only defining the types and rolls too allow us to have suitable engagement with each group of stakeholders.
Confirming your approach to Stakeholder Analysis
There are a range of tools and techniques that you can use to carry out stakeholder mapping. But confirming the approach early in the project will stand you in good stead. Consider what you are trying to achieve from this aspect of the project. You are trying to define which stakeholders have the most influence over the project. It is essential you consider those that may be most affected by the outcome. You also need to consider those stakeholders at the fringe, who may have positions of power and an effect on your project, but would not necessarily be considered direct stakeholders. The tools and complexity of your analysis then depends on how you need to break these stakeholders down.
So those that have the most influence on your project are core customers or senior executives in your own organisation. This group need to be managed very carefully and kept fully aware of project progress and project outcomes. Others affected by the project clearly wish to know how the project will impact them. Will the outcome satisfy their need, and do they understand the benefits? Any tools you use need to allow you to define how you engage with key influencers and those most affected.
Benefits of Stakeholder Analysis
The work put into analysis of stakeholders enables stakeholder engagement planning to improve your chance of project success. The time spent stakeholder mapping should allow us to engage and involve stakeholders with the most power. This helps you shape the project and tune it for more acceptable outcomes. Your exertion defining your stakeholder groups will mean you save time, or you do not waste project time and resources with incorrect communication.
Good stakeholder analysis will allow you to win over your stakeholder community. Making them advocates of the project, and in some cases game some free time and effort to help the project succeed. Done well stakeholder analysis allows you to define those groups that may oppose the project and temper their opposition. In extreme cases winning them over to be positive supporters of the project. But even in situations where stakeholders remain opposed to your goals; good work at the analysis stage can temper that opposition and ease concerns.