What is a stakeholder?

A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in or can influence the success of a project. Stakeholders are often individuals, but they may also be groups or organizations.

For example, if you are working on a project to develop new software for your company, stakeholders might include people from other departments within your organization as well as clients and customers outside of the company that will interact with the software once it's developed. By identifying potential stakeholders early on in a project's lifecycle, you can ensure everyone involved understands their role and how they contribute to reaching project goals.

There are many different types of projects out there and understanding what type of work you're doing is extremely important when it comes to managing and setting stakeholder expectations.

For example, a stakeholder for a small-scale project that doesn't have a lot of moving parts might be satisfied with a weekly status update during the early stages of the project. On the other hand, stakeholders for an extremely complex and large-scale project may require more frequent updates or even constant communication.

Project management definition: What is project stakeholder?
What is project stakeholder?

In addition to those mentioned above, stakeholders can also include those who are affected by the project or its results. A stakeholder doesn't necessarily have to be related to your organization. Let's say you're working within an academic environment, the university's administration could be considered stakeholders for a given project.

What are the 3 types of stakeholders?

As mentioned above, stakeholders can be individuals or groups. In addition to this, there are three other categories stakeholders can fall into inside stakeholders, influential stakeholders, and external stakeholders.

Inside stakeholders

Stakeholders who have a vested interest in the project's outcome, but don't have much power over the decision making process would be considered inside stakeholders. They might include other colleagues in the same department or group who are involved, but not directly responsible for its success.

Influential stakeholder

These are individuals who have influence over the project's outcome, but aren't part of your organization or that don't see their roles to be actual stakeholders. For example, someone like a project's manager might believe they aren't a stakeholder, but they can indirectly affect the success of your projects by providing resources and assistance.

External stakeholders

The last stakeholder category revolves around external groups that don't fall into either of the other two categories (individuals or groups that are not part of your organization). For example, clients or customers could be considered external stakeholder since they don't work for your organization.

What is a stakeholder impact analysis?

As part of stakeholder management, knowing who identifies as a stakeholder can help you understand what information to share with them and when, but it's also important to understand what type of stakeholder each person is whether it's an inside stakeholder, influential stakeholder, or external stakeholder.

The stakeholder impact analysis helps you understand the different types of groups each stakeholder falls into as well as their level of interest and power influencing the project's success.

By identifying stakeholders early on in your project cycle, you can properly plan your communications and delivery strategies to ensure everyone involved stays informed and stakeholder expectations are met.

What are stakeholder engagement techniques?

There are many different stakeholder engagement techniques for communicating with different types of stakeholders, but there are two main categories to consider stakeholder engagement levels and stakeholder communication preferences.

Stakeholder Engagement Levels vary from being completely removed from the project to being very involved depending on the stakeholder's level of interest, power, and even the amount of anxiety they might have about how their work will be affected by its outcome.

Stakeholder Communication Preferences are important to consider when planning your stakeholder engagement because you want to make sure whatever kind of information you're delivering is being received in a way that makes sense for the stakeholder.

What is stakeholder management?

Stakeholder management is all about finding and establishing the right channels and skills for listening to stakeholder needs and concerns and making sure that those needs and concerns are considered as part of your decision-making process. This includes understanding stakeholder roles, interests, power levels, communication preferences as well as their impact on different levels of your organization.

What is stakeholder mapping?

Stakeholder mapping helps you organize and visualize stakeholder connections to the project at hand. Mapping stakeholder groups by their level of interest or power can help you determine which stakeholder types are involved at what stages, who among them should be notified about certain issues first and how stakeholder needs and concerns should be balanced to meet the project's objectives.

What is stakeholder engagement?

Stakeholder engagement means communicating with your stakeholders in ways they'll actually hear and understand to build trust, establish expectations and ensure everyone is aligned on their role and responsibilities to bring your projects successfully to completion.

Understanding stakeholder roles, communication preferences, and stakeholder management basics like types of stakeholders, stakeholder mapping, and stakeholder engagement levels can help you engage with your stakeholders more effectively.

How do you identify stakeholder groups?

There are a number of ways to identify your stakeholder groups. The first step is always identifying the primary stakeholder groups. The primary stakeholder groups should be the people or organizations with a direct stake in what you're working on and could include clients, customers, staff within your organization, members of the community affected by your work, and so on.

With that said, there may also be secondary stakeholder groups to consider when identifying stakeholder groups for a project. Secondary stakeholders are groups that may have an interest in what you're working on but aren't directly involved with the project. These secondary stakeholder groups might be other teams, departments, and so on within your organization or related to your work.

How do you develop stakeholder management strategies?

Now that you've identified stakeholder groups for a given project, it's time to develop stakeholder management strategies for each group.

For primary stakeholder groups that will be actively involved in the project, such as members of your staff and key clients and customers, you may want to consider developing a stakeholder engagement plan. This document would outline what is expected of them, how they fit into the bigger picture when they should be providing updates and more.

For secondary stakeholder groups that are interested in your work but not directly involved with it, such as other departments who may have an interest in what you're doing, it's a good idea to develop stakeholder engagement plans for these groups too. This is especially important if your project could impact them in some way and you want stakeholder expectations to be clear.

Both stakeholder engagement plans and stakeholder management strategies are extremely important for managing stakeholder expectations. They not only help stakeholders better understand their own role but they also make it easier to manage all stakeholder interactions.

By developing stakeholder management strategies and stakeholder engagement plans early on in your project's lifecycle, you can ensure stakeholder expectations are clear and both initiatives go smoothly.

Stakeholder FAQs

What is stakeholder in project?

A project stakeholder is a person or organization that has an interest in the success of a project.

What are stakeholder groups?

Stakeholders can fall into 3 stakeholder categories inside stakeholders, influential stakeholders, and external stakeholders.

What is stakeholder management?

Stakeholder management is all about finding and establishing the right channels and skills for listening to stakeholder needs and concerns and making sure that those needs and concerns are considered as part of your decision-making process.

What is stakeholder engagement?

Stakeholder engagement means communicating with your stakeholders in ways they'll actually hear and understand to build trust, establish expectations and ensure everyone is aligned on their role and responsibilities to bring your projects successfully to completion.

What is stakeholder mapping?

Stakeholder mapping helps you organize and visualize stakeholder connections to the project at hand by mapping stakeholder groups by their level of interest or power.

References: Kirjavainen, K., & Nykänen-Kurki, P. (2016). Stakeholder Management: Business relationships as a dynamic