Know Your Key Stakeholders and Win Their Cooperation


At times, it seems as though technology does all the heavy lifting in our economy. A closer look, however, reveals that it is always people who make the technology produce. On projects, we call these movers and shakers stakeholders, because they have a stake in the project. The first task of a project manager is to identify these stakeholders.

Customers, decision makers, vendors, and employees obviously belong in this group, but, in a larger sense, anyone who contributes to the project or who is impacted by its result is a stakeholder.

Identifying stakeholders is a primary task because all the important decisions during the definition and planning stages of the project are made by these stakeholders. These are the people who, under the guidance of the project manager, establish agreements on the goals and constraints of the project, construct the strategies and schedules, and approve the budget. In addition, the people and organizations that ultimately judge the success of the project are considered stakeholders.

It’s clear that we need to know who our stakeholders are. It is also true that many projects fail to involve one or more critically important stakeholders during project definition and planning. The resulting problems are easily predictable: requirements conflicts and rework, at a minimum, and sometimes more dire consequences, including lawsuits or hefty fines.

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