Stakeholder identification involves identifying who the stakeholders are, the level of influence they have, and developing a communication plan. Stakeholders are those who may be affected by or have an effect on a project. This includes those that will use the solution, those responsible for the solution (e.g. management, IT department leader), or company decision makers. Some questions to help determine if someone should be a stakeholder include:
- Does the stakeholder have a fundamental impact on project success?
- Can you clearly identify what you want from the stakeholder?
- Is the relationship dynamic – that is, do you want it to grow?
- Can you complete the project easily (while maintaining solution standard and project success) without the stakeholder?
- Is the stakeholders need already adequately represented by a different stakeholder?
Common stakeholders include project manager, project team members (e.g. senior management), project sponsor, support staff, functional managers (e.g. department heads, such as IT, marketing, etc.), and users.
Once the stakeholders have been identified, their level of influence should be mapped. The two main considerations are:
- Power of the stakeholder: What level of power do they have in the company? The management team holds greater power than the people on the ground.
- Interest of the stakeholder: Effectively this asks, do they care? The project may have greater importance to some people over others.
Mapping the influence dictates how each stakeholder needs to be treated. Someone of high power but low interest should be kept satisfied; high power and high interest is a key player and should be managed closely; low power and low interest is the least important group and little effort should be expended on these individuals; and low power but high interest should be kept informed.
Each stakeholder group will be treated differently, depending on their role in the project and their level of influence. Identify what degree of information should be communicated, and decide how often they will be communicated with and in what format. This may be emails with a progress list sent weekly or fortnightly to some groups, or more regular communication via phone to stakeholders that are more involved with the project. It should be noted that not all stakeholders need to receive the same level of detail, and they may be communicated with differently depending on their preference.