A stakeholder in a project can be an individual, group, or organization affected by or involved in the project, be it directly or indirectly. The stakeholders have a responsibility and interest to influence the project positively or negatively, so it is important at the outset to analyze who they are, identify their interests and asses how they may affect the project. The stakeholder management process includes several stages:
Firstly, it is necessary to identify the stakeholders – from the initiation document, purchase documents, the organization’s environmental figures and the assets of the organizational processes. The stakeholders can be divided into four categories that differ in interest (high/low) and degree of impact (high/low). Once the stakeholders are identified, it is easier to know how to communicate with them, how important each one is and how much they need to be informed during the project.
Planning stakeholder management – this stage entails developing strategies to engage stakeholders effectively throughout the project. For this purpose, the current level of engagement of each stakeholder must be analyzed and compared to the planned level required in order to complete the project. One analytical tool that identifies gaps between the current and desired level of engagement is a matrix for assessing the engagement of interested parties – in which we indicate the levels appropriate for each stakeholder.
Following the analysis, in order to develop the actions and messages required for closing the gaps, it is best to seek the opinions of experts and the project team. This stage should yield a stakeholder management plan that specifies the required strategies.
Managing stakeholder engagement – this process enables the project manager to increase the support of the stakeholders and minimize their opposition by maintaining effective communication and working with them to achieve their needs and expectations. It is necessary to identify the best method of communication for each stakeholder and at the same time apply personal and management skills, such as building trust and conflict resolution, in order to foster coordination and harmony within the group for the purpose of achieving the goals of the project.
Engagement management may result in requests for changes to the product or project and therefore, if necessary, the project management plan and project documents should be updated accordingly.
In the final stage, stakeholder engagement should be controlled in order to maintain and even increase its efficiency and effectiveness. One of the main ways to distribute information to stakeholders regarding project costs, progress and performance is through an information management system that enables storage and analysis of information and the production of reports.
In the course of the control process, the efficiency of the stakeholder management strategy can be valuated as well. If there is a need to update the strategy, the project management plan and the relevant project documents, such as the list of stakeholders, should be changed accordingly.
Erez Klaus, PMP®