Stakeholder Management: Definitions, Processes & More

In the following section, we’ll go over how to identify types of stakeholders and how to identify the relationships between stakeholders. There are a few useful tools for managing stakeholders in a more complex setting, and we’ll go over them as well. In smaller setups — when you have a handful of stakeholders to manage — you don’t really need any tools or specific strategies.

So, an excellent way to engage stakeholders is by inviting them into critical decision-making in an organized manner. Effective stakeholder management is a key component of successful project delivery. Stakeholders are not only involved with individual projects, they can be invested in a program of like-minded projects or even a portfolio. Follow these five steps to make sure all of your bases in the stakeholder management plan are covered. ProjectManager has stakeholder relationship management tools and team collaboration features—Learn more.

  1. Stakeholders are individuals or groups of people that have a vested interest in your project or venture.
  2. You might also hear stakeholder management referred to as stakeholder engagement, community engagement, public consultation, civic engagement, public participation, and several other terms.
  3. A deep understanding of just who are the stakeholders, what their needs are, and how to meet those needs can actually make or break an organization.
  4. Ultimately, stakeholder management is about bringing the right people together to leverage their influence, authority, and expertise to successfully bring a product to market.
  5. For most projects, you’ll need to develop stakeholder management strategies on two levels business and individual.

These channels should have clear guidelines on when they are used, as well as a moderator that can oversee conversations if needed. Keeping stakeholders informed throughout all stages of the project is essential for a successful outcome. It enables everyone to be aware of any changes or developments whenever they occur.

Identify the Power, Support, and Influence of Stakeholders

A stakeholder is an individual, group or organization that is impacted by the outcome of a business venture or project. Project stakeholders, as the name implies, have an interest in the success of a project, and can be internal or external to the organization that is sponsoring the project. Projects will lose enthusiastic support if stakeholders are left in the dark.

How to Select the Right Stakeholder Management Software

However, be clear about the fact that you as a Product Owner need to be the one who makes the calls when it comes to decisions for the product. Another issue to consider is whether you’re keeping your stakeholder system up-to-date. Encourage your team to regularly add new stakeholders to your lists and ensure all interactions are automatically or manually added to the system. The sooner data is added, the less likely it’ll be missed or forgotten. We’ve already covered some basic processes and plans you can follow to get started with stakeholder management.

If you create a complete project baseline at the beginning, communicate it and ask for feedback early on. Keep every project stakeholder (especially if they’re a key stakeholder) informed and provide regular updates, even if things change. External stakeholders are those who aren’t directly related to the organization, but they’re important to the business or are impacted by the project to some extent. These are usually part of the supply chain, creditors or public groups.

Define stakeholder motives.

Their feedback might be helpful in further developing a product but expect rather too many ideas from their side which you can’t possibly all be taken care of. In addition they are usually not a very big group of people (2,5% of a specific target group) so balance your efforts in addressing them. Of course you do need to balance this against form best practices, ensuring that you don’t end up with a form that’s so long that most stakeholders won’t complete it.

The Key Types of Stakeholders

Once you have identified the stakeholders, you need to determine how much support you need from each one and who each one can influence. These agendas will impact their support for a project and also define the amount of influence they have on others. The stakeholders will vary depending on the organization and the type of project to be undertaken. A deep understanding of just who are the stakeholders, what their needs are, and how to meet those needs can actually make or break an organization. Over and above conventional planning, using foresight to anticipate hazards, and taking simple and timely actions with stakeholders can significantly improve project delivery.

Sapna Gulati discusses how GenAI is changing the game for product managers to focus more on strategic innovation and competitiveness. You can use the RACI matrix to keep track of stakeholders whenever you have numerous expectations to manage. Then measure the effectiveness of your engagement strategy and apply necessary adjustments to improve it as needed. Before you go about creating your communication plan, you should have a stakeholder profile by hand. Another great tool to analyze the importance of your stakeholders and prioritize them is the SWOT analysis. Provide adequate information on the project to
these people and ensure that they don’t have any issues with the project.

An Action Plan is a sequence of steps that must be performed for a strategy to succeed. At the individual level, you must develop strategies that will show the project’s value to the person’s position within the company. Try to put yourselves in their shoes using empathy to better formulate the what’s in it for them pitch. You don’t only want to know how vital given stakeholders are, but also be able to group them based on their opinions regarding the initiative. It’s a different story when you have dozens of stakeholders on your radar or when you lead multiple initiatives with different sets of stakeholders. You need a more organized system to manage stakeholders in cases like that.

What is stakeholder management: Tools and techniques

To do this, the team starts identifying what stakeholders are important to the team’s success and building strong working relationships . Every conversation you have with stakeholders helps craft language to tell a story, and that story will help strategy become clear to everyone. Good stakeholder management also helps the team shape the story they want to tell to the organization by getting to know stakeholders and adding pre-objections to what they see. If you are able to present objections before someone raises them, a stakeholder will consider their needs understood. While your key stakeholders have the power to make your project fail, you need to have a proper plan in place to identify their needs and communicate and engage with them.

Once you have a thorough list, you can begin prioritizing your project stakeholders by their importance to the project. Decide who among them have the most influence on the project and are affected by it. Next comes meeting with stakeholders regularly to showcase your efforts and their stakeholder management impact. In my PR efforts, I recognized those who were most influential and had a disproportionate effect on my team’s success. I’d meet with them, learn about their priorities and figure out what I was doing (or could be doing) to make their life easier and make us all look good.

The easiest way to do this is to create a power interest grid or power interest matrix. What people think and how they feel about you and your team is the other piece of the puzzle. If you leave it for others to determine your team’s brand, they won’t need a second invitation to do so. But if you deliberately craft, share and show the reputation you want, then others will learn to trust you and adopt that perception themselves.

Whether you decide to use a suite of complex tools and systems for managing stakeholders or just follow your gut feeling, always keep stakeholders in the back of your head. Stakeholder management is the bread and butter of product management practice. To some extent, having stakeholder support is like fuel for a product manager. Different stakeholders have different levels of influence on other stakeholders. Sometimes, if you need the support of five other stakeholders, it might be easier to win the buy-in of their boss and then ask him to influence the rest. After you identify the types of stakeholders, it’s also important to see how these groups and individuals interact with the project, as well as with each other.

Like any solid relationship, it requires ongoing strategic engagement and effort. Evaluation is an important part of stakeholder management but too many organizations don’t do this well. In particular, you should evaluate whether your plan was successful based on pre-defined measures of success. We talk about this inside our eBook on evaluating stakeholder engagement and public consultation and our webinar on how to evaluate your stakeholder engagement. Setting and managing expectations is perhaps the most important aspect of any stakeholder management plan.

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