Project Stakeholders Definition

Irrespective of how the organization is structured, there are certain roles and responsibilities that are required in all projects. Different organizations may use different names for these roles but the responsibilities of each one will be the same.

Essential Project Roles

It is important that you understand the rationale for each of the roles in the project along with their responsibilities as these are used extensively throughout the Project Management Skills eBooks series. You will hear the term 'stakeholders' used with reference to a particular project and it is important to understand what this term means. Stakeholders are anyone who will gain or lose from the project.

Project Stakeholders

The project management team must identify the stakeholders, determine their requirements and expectations, and, to the extent possible, manage their influence in relation to the requirements to ensure a successful project.

Project Stakeholders

There are narrower views of the term stakeholder, focusing on the influencers and decision-makers of a business or technological change. In this context, stakeholders are managers who have the organizational authority to allocate resources (people, money, services) and set priorities for their own organizations in support of a change.

One of the keys to a successful project is successfully managing the relationships between everyone involved - the stakeholders.

Project Stakeholder Management

There are three processes involved:

1) Identify the Project Stakeholders
This involves identifying the people, groups, or organizations that could impact or be impacted by a decision, activity, or outcome of the project. It analyzes and documents their interests in and influence on the project. A stakeholder is defined as anyone with an interest in the project, irrespective of whether that interest is positive or negative. They may be individuals or organizations that are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be affected by the execution or completion of the project.

A project manager must be sure to identify and list all potential stakeholders for a project. In addition to those on the project team potential stakeholders include:

Who are the stakeholders?

Stakeholders can be internal to the organization or external. In many projects the public at large will become a stakeholder to be considered during the project. The challenge for the project manager when the public is a stakeholder will be to act while considering public needs. Often there is no direct representative of the public to be consulted during project planning and execution.

2) Analyze their potential involvement with the project
This is the process that develops appropriate management strategies to effectively engage stakeholders throughout the project. Stakeholder analysis is so important that a wide variety of experts are consulted to help analyze the actual level and the desired level of engagement level of the various stakeholders. These experts are the same ones that were consulted in the previous process to identify the stakeholders and analyze their interest and/or influence on the project in order to determine the general strategy for engaging them.

3) Manage their engagement with the project
This is the process that communicates and works with stakeholders to meet their needs and expectations, address issues as they occur, and support stakeholder engagement. It details how you communicate with stakeholders and ensures appropriate engagement levels.

If you intend to manage a project then you will need a detailed knowledge of these roles and their responsibilities. However, in order to understand the basic principles of project management there are only two roles that you need to know about in any detail, the project sponsor and the project manager.

You may also be interested in:
Project Management Principles | Project Management Definition | Project Management Perspectives | Project Organization and Structure | Projects in a Matrix-Management Environment | Project Stakeholders Definition | Project Sponsor Definition | Project Life Cycle Definition | Functional Areas of Project Management.

Key Points

  • Irrespective of how the organization is structured, there are certain roles and responsibilities that are required in all projects.
  • Project stakeholders are individuals and organizations that are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by execution of the project or project completion.

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