The amazing thing about project stakeholders is that often the communication process itself goes a long way toward appeasing them. A strong relationship or regular communication often avoids trouble spots later on. It’s so simple, yet so difficult to pull off in practice!
Project stakeholders are anyone who has an interest in a project. The project sponsor is usually the most important stakeholder, but anyone who is affected in any way, shape, or form must be considered by the project manager in project planning. Most projects contain changes throughout their life cycle, not to mention the stakeholders’ concerns, so keeping strong communication channels to all stakeholders, especially the small ones, must be an enormous priority for the project manager.
That’s why the Project Management Institute added a knowledge area just for Stakeholder Management in the 5th edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). This knowledge area contains the following processes:
- Identify Stakeholders
Every project should have a stakeholder register. If you don’t know who your stakeholders are, how can you put a priority on satisfying them? Each one has a unique impact on project success. For example, the utility company that must move their line before any work takes place can ensure your equipment is sitting idle for days. In contrast, the adjacent landowner who is losing their view can’t stop the project but can create unwanted media attention.
- Plan Stakeholder Management
In this step, each stakeholder’s primary needs, expectations, and potential impact on project success are identified, so that they can be managed proactively throughout the project.
- Manage Stakeholder Engagement
Particularly for the small stakeholders who have the greatest potential to derail a project unexpectedly, it is important to ensure communication is at the expected level and stakeholder engagement is sought at appropriate times. Any concerns need to be addressed quickly and decisively. Stakeholders need to know that they are being heard.
- Control Stakeholder Engagement
In this step, stakeholders engagement is controlled and monitored to ensure the stakeholders are being consulted and heard.