Stakeholders are specific people or groups who have a stake
or an interest in the outcome of the project. Normally stakeholders are within
the company and could include internal clients, management, employees,
administrators, etc. A project may also have external stakeholders, including
suppliers, investors, community groups and government organizations.

Small projects typically don’t have to worry about
understanding and managing the stakeholder community. You usually have to deal
with a sponsor (the person that requested the work) and that’s about it.

As your project gets larger however, you generally have more
stakeholders to worry about. If you have a large and diverse stakeholder
community it makes sense to perform a stakeholder analysis. This stakeholder
analysis will help you determine the various stakeholder groups, their needs,
and how you will satisfy their needs. You can use the following process for stakeholder

  1. Identify
    Stakeholders. Start by identifying all possible stakeholders. These could
    be individual persons or stakeholder groups.
  2. Determine
    the importance of each stakeholder. Look at each stakeholder and determine
    how important he or she is to the success of your project. You might
    categorize each stakeholder in terms of high/medium/low importance. This
    evaluation is important because sometimes you spend too much time and effort working with stakeholders that are of low
    importance to your project, while short-changing the time you spend on
    stakeholders that are very important.
  3. Identify
    the interest of the project for each stakeholder. This is where the
    analysis starts. Stakeholders have a stake or interest in your project.
    Now you have to identify what this stake or interest is. In some cases the
    stakeholder might need something from your project team. In other cases,
    you may need something from them.
  4. Determine
    how you will engage each stakeholder. For each stakeholder, you should
    identify a set of activities or even an overall approach for getting them
    engaged. You should identify activities that help you to achieve your
    interest while also recognizing the relative importance of each
    stakeholder group. Obviously you will spend more time working with
    stakeholder groups that are important to your project and less time on
    groups that are of low priority. 
  5. Gain
    agreement when necessary. In some cases, stakeholders want things from
    your project. However, in other instances you need something from them. If
    you need something from the stakeholder or stakeholder group, make sure
    that they understand what your expectations are and make sure that they
    agree to provide what you need.
  6. Move
    the activities to the workplan. You don’t want
    to keep a separate stakeholder activity spreadsheet. After you identify
    the activities to engage the stakeholder groups, place all of the
    activities in the project workplan, along with
    who is responsible, the timeframe, estimated effort, etc.

The stakeholder community should also be evaluated
periodically to ensure that the stakeholders are being engaged successfully. If
the stakeholders are not being engaged as you wished, you should update or
change your activities. It is possible that you will also discover new
stakeholders as the project progresses, and they should be accounted for in
this process as well.