Who are Our Project Stakeholders (And What Do They Want)

Who are Our Project Stakeholders (And What Do They Want)

This started out sounding like the Sesame Street song, “Who are the People in your Neighborhood?” Because when you look around at who is impacted by a project, it’s a large crowd. Way more than just the management or the customer paying for the end product. Let’s dive in and take a look at just how many entities have “skin in the game” when it comes to project success.

  1. 1. Executives
    Of course it makes sense to start here because this is usually where the project begins. This may be within the organization or the parent organization. The individual functioning as the project sponsor who is ensuring that all the funding is flowing appropriately and providing key support to the project manager on a regular basis. Their concerns are the financial success of the project and being involved in decisions outside the project that affect their parent organization. Any follow up decisions after the project has concluded will happen at this level as well.
  2. 2. Customers
    Customers have a variety of looks and can come from many different places. They can be an internal purchasing department or other part of your organization. Or they can be external corporations or individuals. But the project doesn’t exist without them. The customer’s wants and needs and goals must be captured and documented and they must be consulted regularly to ensure the project is meeting all expectations. Many times, additional staff will be used to ensure customer satisfaction.
  3. 3. Project Team
    In order for the project to be a success, each member of the project team needs to be successful. Each team member will have unique needs that are both part of and external to the project at hand. They will want to feel valued as part of the project team in what they contribute to the progress. They will also want to know that their efforts are recognized and this project will help them as they further their career advancement.
  4. 4. Department Managers
    Department managers will often be asked to loan out resources to a project for a period of time. While they aren’t against making this possible, they do have goals and responsibilities within their own departments that they are accountable for. It is important for the project manager to ensure that technical and department managers resources are requested only when necessary and the privilege is not abused.
  5. 5. Lenders
    As with all aspects of business, money drives the progress. With many projects, loans are necessary to ensure that the resources needed to complete the project are available at the right time. Lenders are concerned with the risks associated with the project and its ultimate financial success to the degree that it guarantees the repayment of their loan with interest.
  6. 6. Unions
    In some industries, union negotiations are a major part of a company’s operating plan. Not so everywhere. Depending on where your project falls in this spectrum, a union may be a stakeholder who represents the interests of the workers seeking better working conditions and higher pay.
  7. 7. Shareholders
    If your company or the customer company is publicly traded, then you have a huge additional block of stakeholders to consider. Depending on where the project fits in the corporate interest will decide how much the shareholders will be concerned about it. For example, if it is an initial product launch, the shareholders or company investors are going to be very concerned about its progress and success. If it’s an existing product modification, it might weigh less heavily on shareholders.
  8. 8. Creditors
    Creditors, like shareholders or lenders are interested in the financial aspects of a project. They are willing to front money or materials in order to get a return on the risk they take when the project is completed. However, they are not willing to be on the hook if the project fails like shareholders would be. They want their income and they want it consistently throughout the project life.
  9. 9. Suppliers
    Suppliers of good and outside services have a keen stake in the success of a project. They want the project to show off their product or service in its best possible light and to be paid fairly and on time. And they want the good showing of their product or service to solidify future business through referrals or references.
  10. 10. Governments/Regulatory Agencies
    For many industries, governments and regulatory agencies play a large part in the success of projects. When permits or regulatory approvals are required, it is crucial that these factors be written into the project plan so that there are no surprises as the project progresses.
  11. 11. General Public
    Yep, the everyday person on the street can be a stakeholder as well. Maybe the project being done involves closing a road or turning off power for a period of time. The impact to the public must be factored into the project plan because public backlash will matter will matter and the project will be affected. Negative effects on the public cannot be ignored.

It’s pretty easy to see that almost everyone in the arena of a project can be considered a project stakeholder in some way. Depending on the project and the industry, some of these roles have a bigger impact than others. But each one is important to reflect on and plan for how they may be impacted by the project. This way you can ensure project success by making all your project stakeholders are engaged and satisfied.