Who Are Stakeholders
Stakeholders are the people who may be impacted by the success, or failure of a project. Therefore, inclusion of their perception regarding the project is important for its success. Stakeholders may possess optimistic or pessimistic opinion of a project, and frequently do not agree with each other. Study of any example of stakeholder communications analysis, will illustrate that reconcilement of stakeholder outlook becomes a challenge for the project management team.
The term also signifies persons who have invested funds in the business. However, stakeholder also includes the organization's human resources since they have massive interest in the project, and are impacted by its results. Creditors are also included in the stakeholder category.
A requirements gathering session is an important tool to develop communications with stakeholders, and includes Joint Application Development, or JAD sessions, brainstorming techniques, and interviewing techniques. Answering interview questions by the JAD facilitation team will reveal opinions of the stakeholders regarding the project objectives, and other issues related to the business. The project charters are developed externally after proper communications with the appropriate stakeholders.
Example Of Stakeholder Communications Analysis
A stakeholder communication plan is an important element in project management, and needs to be carefully formulated. Its layout will generally include the stakeholder identified roles, and the designed management strategy. An example of a stakeholder communications analysis is appended below:
Executive Sponsor: The Executive Sponsor has the decisive project influence, and is responsible for provision of funds for the project, settles issues concerning scope and other changes, sanctions main deliverables, and presents top management direction. The organization may delegate the daily tactical functioning to the Project Sponsor.
Project Sponsor: The Project Sponsor acts on the behalf of Executive Sponsor for daily normal activities, and is responsible for numerous project decisions. They will obtain decision from the Executive Sponsor, if the subject matter is of a high level.
Customer Project Manager: For large projects, the customer may establish a central contact person who is nominated as the customer project manager. For example, in projects related to IT, the solution will be developed by the IT project manager. He will work in close coordination with the customer Project Manager for the solution implementation.
Steering Committee: This consists of the top stakeholders who provide strategic leadership for the project. They do not replace the Project Sponsor, but provide vital input to the project. This group includes the customers, important stakeholders, and the top project management. Some of these people may also be a member of the project Change Control Board.
Stakeholder: These particular persons or groups have some interest ,or stake, related to the project results. The external stakeholders include the shareholders, contractors, traders, dealers, state organization, and community groups. The internal stakeholders consist of the management, staff, etc.
Suppliers: These are the companies or people who provide goods, material, software, hardware, equipment, or services to a project.
Users: These individuals or groups being the real users of the project deliverables are heavily involved in the project activities, like identifying the requirements and the testing processes.
Project Manager: The Project Manager is authorized by the project charter to execute the project, including the development of project plans, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closing project activities. Their responsibilities also include management of schedule, budget, scope, risk, and other project issues.
Project Team: This team consists of the part time or full time resources that are dedicated for the project deliverables, including the business analysts, programmers, etc. The project team is responsible for creation of the project deliverables in accordance with scope, budget, and schedule.
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Example Of Stakeholder Communications Management Plan
After identification of the project stakeholders, a management strategy is developed. An example of a stakeholder communications analysis management plan can be downloaded for your use.
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Importance Of Stakeholder Communications
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The effective management of stakeholders is vital for project success. The viewpoint of the influential stakeholders can be beneficially used to shape the projects, and obtain their vital support for the project success. Their constructive input may also be used for the improvement of project quality.
Stakeholder patronage is valuable for obtaining resources that are essentially required for the project execution, and are imperative for the project. Stakeholder communications should be started in the early stages when the project is initiated, to ensure their complete contribution in the development of the project management plans.
It should be realized that project delays cause project cost increases. Therefore, involvement of stakeholders will prevent project creep, and also delays will be avoided due to less rework. Frequent interaction with the stakeholders will facilitate the project team, and they will better understand how to write goals and objectives of the project.
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Conduct Of Stakeholder Communications
Stakeholder communications commence according to their role, keeping in mind that they are the persons who have an effect on the project, which may be positive or negative. Efforts should be directed towards obtaining maximum advantage because of the positive influence, and mitigate the effects of negative influence. Subsequently, an evaluation is carried out to assess their power, capability to influence, and degree of interest in the project. This information is useful to plan the stakeholder communications according to their level of concern in the project.
The stakeholders, who are most vital, will be communicated appropriately, and efforts will be undertaken to obtain their maximum support. There will be a large number of individual and group stakeholders who are impacted by the project. Therefore, stakeholder prioritization is necessary to develop a management strategy. This prioritization may be revised during the project life cycle, since it may change as the project is executed.
A proper identification and prioritization of the stakeholders will enable the project team to deal with them in accordance with the following criteria:
High Influence, High Interest: People with high level of power and interest should be wholly engaged, and maximum efforts are essential to ensure their satisfaction. Time required to communicate with these stakeholders should be at a maximum.
High Influence, Low Interest: People with high levels of power, but less interest, may need communications that will be only be sufficient for their satisfaction, and additional efforts are not necessary. These stakeholders should be generally contented, since they believe that the project does not have an effect on them. However, they possess the capability to impact the project. For example, these stakeholders may have the crucial vote during the project activities. The aim of project interactions should be designed to provide sufficient information, with the desire that they do not produce complications for the project.
Less Influence, High Interest: This category of people may have lower power, but a substantial amount of interest. These people need to be informed adequately to ensure the prevention of major issues. They can assist to recognize the project challenges. These are the people with comparatively low risk.
Low Influence, Low Interest: The last category consists of those people whose power and interest are low, and need to be monitored with the application of minimum effort. They are not much concerned with the project, and do not have the power to assist in the project activities.
Stakeholder Management Strategy
One of the initial processes in the development of the project plans is the identification of project stakeholders, according to their relative power and interest levels. This process is not simple to execute, so concerted efforts are required in this direction.
After the stakeholders have been identified, a management strategy is developed to deal with the stakeholders. It is necessary to appreciate their reactions to the project activities. Thus, all the relevant information is required, including their financial interests, motivation factors, type and frequency of the information desired. It should also be analyzed as to how their opinion can be influenced, and appropriate actions are necessary to obtain their maximum support for the project.
The example of stakeholder communications analysis that has been explained in this article will be helpful to conduct proper stakeholder communications in a project.