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Identification of the stakeholders

The role of project stakeholders should not be underestimated because at every level there’s potential for positive, as well as negative, influence over other stakeholders. The greater the potential influence, the greater the risk to project deliverables and final goals.

Stakeholder identification, analysis, and selection can be tricky areas to navigate. If at the end of the day, the appropriate stakeholders aren’t selected for a project, requirements and deliverables may not be successfully met, and the end goals can erroneously be sidestepped.

The benefits of thorough stakeholder analysis include:

  • maintaining focus on stakeholders’ needs;
  • ensuring positive influence exists between stakeholders;
  • reducing unnecessary risks;
  • having the relevant and key stakeholders involved from inception to close; and
  • providing the best possible project outcome(s).

Sometimes stakeholders actually have a vested interest in seeing a project fail. Sadly in such situations, this fact may not be discovered until well into a project, causing unnecessary conflict and wasted time, energy, and resources.

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How to find the right stakeholders

There may be many different stakeholders throughout the life of a project. Typically, stakeholders fall into one of three categories:

  • Direct internal stakeholders
  • Indirect internal stakeholders
  • External stakeholders

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These stakeholders can range from the project team members and project sponsors who are directly engaged in the project activities, and internal departments or users/customers and leaders who are involved in, or utilize the end product or service, to external customers, government bodies, and so on.

Here are steps to make sure you’re on the right track and that all factors and options have been weighed carefully, fairly, and with the best possible end result in focus.