Project Stakeholders – How it All Starts

When it comes to running a project you know that you have some people who are even more involved and more responsible than others. You know you have some people who actually have a stake in just what happens with the project. And those are the project stakeholders.

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Let’s take a little closer look at just who they are and what they do. And why you even need to have them in your project to ensure success. After all, you want to make sure you are doing everything possible for your business.

The Project Stakeholder

First, the project stakeholders are people who are invested in the project in some way. You might think of a stakeholder as being someone who has a financial investment in something. But that’s not actually the case when it comes to project management. Instead, your stakeholders are people like the departments in your business, your client, your team that is helping you execute the project and so on. These are the people who are responsible for helping you get from where you are right now to having your project completed.

If you look at the actual definition of a stakeholder it’s someone who is actively involved in the project. That could be an individual or a full organization. And it means that the person or organization in question will be affected by the way that the project is completed and whether or not it’s completed. So, they don’t have a financial stake (usually) but they do have something to lose if something goes wrong. And they have something to gain if things happen to go right. They have a stake in the project as a whole.

Now, keep in mind that some of your stakeholders are going to be extremely obvious. And some are a little less obvious. Not only that but some of them have a bigger stake in the project than others. Some might have an important role in the project but have a minor role in making decisions. Or someone might have a minor role in the project but a major role in making decisions. You want to know who each of these people are and what their actually responsibilities are to the team as a whole. That way you can keep everyone on task and where they need to be.


Types of Stakeholders

We can actually look at two different types of stakeholders in any project that you’re working on. The first are the internal stakeholders, which means the other ones are your external stakeholders. Keep in mind that these are very important people. No matter which type of stakeholder you’re talking about, you need to pay attention to each of them and understand what they need and how to achieve it. You also need to think about how they relate to the rest of the team so you can keep everything going smoothly.

Internal stakeholders are the ones that are inside of your business. These are the team members that are working with you on the project. It’s also the people who are in charge of making sure the project gets done. That means project managers, organization managers and leaders, executives and so on. Basically, anyone who is within the business that has some type of stake in the overall project is going to be considered an internal stakeholder. These are the people you should find it easiest to work with and to ensure that they are getting the benefits they need out of this process.

External stakeholders are the people who are outside of your organization but have a stake in what’s happening. These are customers or investors. It could also be suppliers who are waiting on payments or people who use your product or service. These are people who will be influenced by the internal stakeholders and what they do. They’re also the people who allow you to continue to grow your business because you need people to buy or use your products and services and you need people who are willing to invest in you and what you want to offer.


What You Need to Do

If you’re the project manager then your job is to make sure that things are getting done right for your project. That includes making sure that all of your stakeholders know what’s going on throughout the entire process. They should be well informed and they should be involved (to whatever extent they’re supposed to be) in the project that you’re working on. They should be on-board with everything that’s happening and know what needs to be done and when. But they should also be happy, so make sure that you’re working on keeping stakeholders happy along the way.


Conduct a Stakeholder Analysis

Once you know who your stakeholders are you can go through the process of a stakeholder analysis. This is where you’re going to get a better understanding of just who all is involved and how they’re involved. It’s definitely going to be an important step and one that’s going to make sure your entire team is on the right page every step of the way. So, how do you conduct a full stakeholder analysis? We’re going to take a closer look at it right now.

1. Know your stakeholders

The first thing you need to do is write up a list of all of the different people who are considered stakeholders in your business. Remember that you’re going to have internal and external stakeholders. Also, remember that you have stakeholders all the way through the process. If someone isn’t going to be bringing supplies until the end of the project they are still considered a stakeholder and it’s important to put them on your list. You don’t want to miss out on someone or miss understanding the impact that they might have on the project because that can throw you off later.

2. Set your priorities

Which of the stakeholders you’ve identified is going to be the most important? Put them in some type of order from the people who are most important to the outcome of the project and who are less important. Your most important or valued decision-makers should be at the top of the list. The ones who have a responsibility to the project but aren’t really big decision makers will go closer to the bottom of the list. They’re not going to play as big of a role in the project but they’re still important and you need to include them.

3. Know what they need

You want to make sure you fully understand not only who your stakeholders are but also what they are expecting out of this project. Are they setting goals and standards about the project? Are those things similar to yours or are they different? What kind of questions or concerns or expectations do they have? How can you make sure that you and each of your stakeholders is on the same page with what you want and what you need when it comes to this investment?

The first thing that you’re going to want to do is talk with each of your stakeholders. You want to know all of these things and more so you can make sure that your project is going to go well. Remember that not all of your stakeholders are going to have the same interests or the same expectations for your project. Your job, as the project manager, is to manage expectations and make sure that everyone is working toward the same goal. You want to make sure that they understand what kind of outcome you’re trying to get and that they’re going to work toward that outcome.

4. Manage your team

Once you’ve done all of these things you’ll still need to know how to manage your team. You need to understand what it is that needs to be done at any given stake of the business or the project. And while you want to keep your stakeholders happy and keep their opinions under advisement, you also want to make sure that you are making the right decisions overall. Sometimes that will mean ignoring the rest of the team or making a decision that isn’t popular with everyone. As the project manager you have to make sure you make the right decisions even if they are unpopular.

5. Write down responsibilities

In order to truly manage your team the way you should, it’s a good idea to write down everyone’s responsibilities. This will help you to know who needs to do what and when. It also lets your team and everyone else who is involved know that you’re taking things seriously and you want someone who can get the job done. Not to mention this is going to let each individual know what their responsibility is so there’s no confusion between people over who was responsible for what.

It’s very easy to get sucked into a routine and miss out on something that is supposed to be your job. By writing down all of the responsibilities that each person has it’s easier for them to keep track of assignments that have been given to them as well. You could even prioritize the list so they know which tasks need to be done the fastest or need the most care and attention to detail. From there, you could list out the rest of the smaller tasks that they are responsible for completing so you can stay on top of things.

6. Maintain communication

When it comes to working with your stakeholders you can’t take a one and done approach. That means you can’t just meet them one time and then head off in another direction and assume things are going to be fine. Instead, make sure that you work with them and schedule regular times where you can interact with those people and make sure that you’re keeping them on task (and they’re keeping you on task as well). By interacting with your team regularly you’ll be able to find the problem before it becomes something major.

It's easy for lack of communication to turn into a big problem for any type of project you’re working on, whether it’s a big one or a small one. If you’re not talking to the people who you are trusting to get the job done with you then how are you going to actually accomplish things? Instead, make sure that you’re talking with those people regularly and that you’re all on the same page. That’s going to help you get the job done faster and make sure that you’re following along with your project management system as well.

Choosing a Project Management System

When it comes to getting ready to initiate any type of project management system you need a program that’s going to help you. Instagantt offers Gantt charts that will help you and your entire team stay on task. This service gives you all of the charts and timelines you need to lay out schedules, tasks, deadlines and more. That’s going to be important when it comes to achieving the best for your stakeholders, which is something that you absolutely need to concern yourself with.

If you don’t have stakeholders you’re going at it alone and that’s never a good idea, especially for a startup. So, look for someone (or a few someone’s) who might be interested in trying an entirely new method of project management.

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