Stakeholders are made up of one or all of the following: individuals, teams or even organisations. They have a connection to, or are potentially impacted by the proposed solution that your project or programme will deliver. Getting buy in from your stakeholders is key.
There is no definitive stakeholder guide you can draw on. But in essence they will be identified through using techniques such as stakeholder mapping. So what things should we consider?
The number of stakeholders that will engage will change throughout the project. It’s usual that those with seniority will participate, ad-hoc, as required. Or as a champion for the project and occasionally as an ever present micro manager. If your project is seen as critical then you are likely to find stakeholders will seek you out! Overall though it is important to identify them in an organised and timely fashion. It is likely that key individuals are will be engaged throughout the lifecycle.
If your project is part of a programme then stakeholder identification is usually undertaken at that level. But if the project is stand-alone then stakeholder identification will be a project team task.
How should we approach the identification activity? First the team should make a list of who might want to be involved in the process. Once captured then the team should attempt to engage as many of this group as possible. Make sure the focus is on identifying the correct stakeholders rather than on worrying about numbers and names.
Getting stakeholder buy in
To aide in the activity it is an idea to seek input from stakeholders of current or past similar projects. Maybe solicit views from trusted peers in the your field and organise a team meeting to pool ideas. During these meetings the type of trigger questions can be:
- Who potentially may be impacted by the project
- What is this impact; who wants it to succeed and is there anyone who may be a blocker
- Are their parties who have sufficient power to give a positive or even negative impact on the project outcome
- How will you be financed
- What support can you get to address particular problems that may arise
- Identify the route to resourcing
- Does the project require any unique skills.
It is useful to group stakeholders for ease of identification, defining this in your communication plans; this is where a stakeholder map tool can really help out. You should determine any key stakeholders. But ensure that as the project progresses and changes you reflect this in your mapping.
You should ensure that you communicate appropriately to all of the stakeholders. Captured this in your communication plan, stick to this discipline and it will ensure you work well with your stakeholders. There will be differing types of communication depending on the individuals. This will be determined by their preferences and also whether the communication needs to be formal or informal.
By ensuring regular and appropriate communications then everybody will feel engaged in the project. You will be able to pulse the commitment levels and manage accordingly to ensure your project stays on track.
Stakeholder management when done well is a big part of any successful programme or project. Ensure you treat it as an important part of the project journey.