This tutorial will explain the role of project stakeholders by identifying and defining:
Many people will have opinions about what needs to be done, what needs to be spent, and how the work should proceed. These people are called project stakeholders, because they have an interest in the deliverables. Their opinions and their approvals determine whether a project is successful or not.
It will be the responsibility of the project manager to identify stakeholders and document their needs. The stakeholders will help define the deliverables of a project, and ultimately, determine the success of a project.
Your group is tasked to create a new type of suit designed for astronauts on space walks. How do you identify the stakeholders on this project?
As a project manager, the following is a list you should use to decide if someone is a stakeholder:
1. They have an interest in the project. Perhaps in this case, a high level executive initiated the process to create this new space suit.
2. They are affected by what the project delivers, either directly, or indirectly. The organization that manufactures the suit is directly affected. There is another level that is indirectly affected, which is the company that made tools for the older version. They need to create tools to support the new suit.
3. Their opinion of the deliverables can impact the projects results. In your case, the astronaut scheduled to wear the suit.
Don't count on the support of every stakeholder when the project starts. It might be the end users who support the creation of a more flexible suit or maybe the engineers want a suit that's easy to maintain. There might also be members of a budget committee that don't approve the additional expense or an executive that believes rovers should be used instead of astronauts.
One of the project's earliest goals may include addressing various concerns. It's important to communicate often and clearly with stakeholders about project progress, and ultimately, its outcomes.
The initial project stakeholder will likely be the project sponsor. They will have oversight and budget authority over the project. As the sponsor, they may also have initiated the project, such as the groups discussed earlier who wanted a new space suit.
It's critical to communicate well with project sponsors since they often advocate for the project. The project manager will naturally be a stakeholder, but if the project impacts other projects, then the managers of those projects might need to be stakeholders too.
A suit used for a space walk must work with monitoring equipment, which may introduce another stakeholder: the project manager of the project involving monitoring quality of equipment and usage.
Experienced individuals, especially those who've worked on similar projects, might help define deliverables. They too can act as stakeholders. Customers or users, who benefit or directly interact with deliverables created by the project, can be stakeholders.
Sometimes the user population could be very large. In that case, target users can be defined to serve as representatives.
Building a space suit might involve public money. In that case, political decision makers would be stakeholders too.
Key decision makers may require a large chain of people that need to approve certain elements at each stage, such as budget, schedule, and resource negotiations.
Now you know the criteria for being a project stakeholder and the different types of stakeholders. Remember the checklist to determine who should be a stakeholder. If a person or a group is interested in the project or has the ability to affect the scope of the project, they are likely to be a stakeholder. A project sponsor may oversee the entire project and have budget authority over the project.
Source: This work is adapted from Sophia Author Jeff Carroll.
Individuals inside or outside an organization that have an interest in a project or its deliverables.
The individual who is responsible for project oversight and has budget authority.