Understanding Your Stakeholders


“It is the process of identifying the people, groups, or organizations that could impact or be impacted by a decision, activity, or outcome of the project; and analyzing and documenting relevant information regarding their interest, involvement, inter-dependencies, influence, and potential impact on project success

Every project will have stakeholders who are impacted by or can impact the project in a positive or negative way” – Project Management Institute

Stakeholders can be the project manager, the sponsor, the team, the customer, the suppliers, the creditors, the employees, the Unions, the community, professional organizations and any one impacted by the project.  They may have a Direct Impact or Indirect Impact on the project, depending on their association to the project, which will determine their influence.

First off, one needs to identify those that have an interest in the project, share expectations for successful completion of the project and those that may have an influence on the project.

One needs to consider those that have the ability to impact the project, the ability to enhance the project (Subject Matter Experts / SMEs), the ability to slow down the project, the ability to remove impediments, the ability to lead opinions, the ability to facilitate the change resulting from the project, and the ability to provide “a voice of reason”.


Be sure you classify your stakeholders on you project as either:

a)       Those that are Unaware of the project and its impacts

b)       Those that are Resistant of the project’s impacts and change

c)        Those that are Neutral (neither supportive or resistant)

d)       Those that are Supportive of the project

e)       Those that are Leading – engaged in ensuring the project is a success


Every Project Manager must manage the stakeholders by engaging them during the project, managing expectations, addressing concerns, anticipating future issues (a form of Risk Management), clarifying and resolving issues, and most importantly, maintain open communications.  It is important to build trust, resolve conflicts, be an active listener, help to overcome the resistant to change, facilitate consensus, influence support, negotiate agreements and work towards the modification of organizational behavior.


One needs to avoid these mistakes with stakeholders,

a)       Failing to set a common ground,

b)       Failing to set boundaries,

c)        Failing to give accurate and real information,

d)       Allowing yourself to be bullied,

e)       Failing to resolve or escalate an issue,


And implement these to help deal with those that may be difficult to work with:

a)       Get them on-board with the project

b)       Tell the truth

c)        Find the problem

d)       Don’t let it get personal

e)       Make communication a priority

f)        Found out their needs


As a Project Manager, the BIGGEST 7 things to remember for Understanding Your Stakeholders are:

  1. Project managers should consider project stakeholder concerns during decision-making
  2. Project managers should communicate effectively and openly with stakeholders
  3. Project managers should tailor communication to meet stakeholder needs
  4. Project managers should treat stakeholders fairly
  5. Project managers should develop partnerships with stakeholders
  6. Project managers should clearly outline risks for stakeholders
  7. Project managers should balance their interests as a stakeholder

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