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What is Stakeholder Management?

By Duncan Haughey | minute read

Business people shaking hands, finishing up a meeting

Running a successful project requires a high degree of stakeholder management. So who are your stakeholders?

A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in your project or will be affected by its deliverables or output. It is important to understand the values and issues that stakeholders have so you can address them and keep everyone on board for the duration of the project.

In January 1996, the Gartner Group, in their paper Project Management Skills: Avoiding Management by Crisis, identified insufficient involvement of stakeholders and infrequent communication with sponsors as leading causes of project failure. Here are a few ideas that may help you.

Setting Goals and Objectives

Involve stakeholders in creating a set of realistic goals and objectives. Stakeholders are not always keen to participate actively, but engaging them at this early stage of the project will help ensure success. Stakeholders are most likely to involve themselves actively in a set of goals and objectives aimed at improving business performance and thereby take an interest in the project.

Agreeing Deliverables

Projects need a clear set of deliverables designed to achieve the project goals and objectives. These should be communicated clearly to the stakeholders and efforts made to ensure that there is a clear understanding regarding the quality and composition of each deliverable. Prototypes and samples can be prepared to achieve this understanding and avoid misunderstandings or disappointment later.

Communicating Information

Once your project is running, there are two groups of people who you should keep informed of progress, the project team and the stakeholders. The most efficient way of communicating progress is via regular status reports. The reports provide a good record of the project and can be emailed to all relevant parties and placed in a central repository to which everyone has access.

Finally, always stay close to your stakeholders, they are the most important people on your project.

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