What is a Stakeholder?
Try “define: Stakeholder” in Google and you will be surprised by the huge differences in the way this simple word is defined. It perhaps proves – in a way – just how confused people get about Stakeholder Management Companies and how inconsistent the different approaches to it can be!
My simple definition is “anyone affected by a decision and interested in its outcome”. This can include individuals or groups, both inside and outside your organisation.
The first step in Stakeholder Analysis is to assess the Influence and Importance (two different things!) of each individual Stakeholder or Stakeholder group.
Influence is defined as the extent to which a stakeholder is able to act on project operations and therefore affect project outcomes. Influence is a measure of the power of the stakeholder. Factors likely to lead to higher influence include the extent of control over the project funding and the extent to which the stakeholder informs decision-making around investments in technology and business change.
Importance is defined as the extent to which a stakeholder’s problems, needs and interests are affected by project operations or desired outcomes. If ‘important’ stakeholders are not assisted effectively then the project cannot be deemed a ‘success’.
Where Stakeholders are both important and influential, then they are primary stakeholders and must by fully engaged in the governance and steering of the project, if it is to succeed. Where Stakeholders are either important or influential, then they are secondary stakeholders and need to be actively managed during the project.
The second step in Stakeholder Analysis is to understand the current position of each Stakeholder with respect to the project objectives and expected outcomes. For this purpose, a series of Stakeholder Interviews and Surveys should be undertaken, to understand the degree of engagement and the degree of commitment.
Engagement is a measure of how well the Stakeholder understands the challenges the project seeks to tackle and the strategy, plans and outcomes. A low engagement score signals a lack of understanding.
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