ITtoolkit Article Collection


The Project Stakeholder Analysis: Roles, Interests and Influence


Read more in the full article below.

Project success depends largely on the people involved.  You may get to pick some or all of your project team, but you won't get to choose every stakeholder.  As a project manager, it's your job to work with the stakeholders you've got and to understand what makes them tick.  This is essential to ensure maximized engagement and minimized problems.  The key is found in the stakeholder analysis.  Read on to learn how it works.

Analyzing Stakeholder Role, Interest and Influence

Every project has "stakeholders", forming the "human element" of the project management paradigm.  As the name implies, a project stakeholder  is any individual or entity with a "stake" in the project at hand (i.e. something to lose, and something to gain).  This "stake" drives behavior, and behavior drives results.

If you want your project to succeed, with minimal conflicts, you need to get every stakeholder fully "engaged" and motivated .  Engagement and participation instills pride of ownership, leading to better results, delivered in a more productive manner.  The ability to "engage" begins with a full understanding of stakeholder identity and assigned role, vested interest, accountability, and the power to influence resulting outcomes.  In procedural terms, this "understanding" is obtained through the stakeholder analysis.

Performing the Project Stakeholder Analysis

Key Steps to Identify, Analyze and Act

The project stakeholder analysis is performed in four (4) steps as detailed below:

Step 1:  Who are your project stakeholders?

The first step in the stakeholder analysis process is to identify "the stakeholders" according to their primary project "role".  It is important to consider stakeholders from both an organizational and individual point of view.  Organizational stakeholders include the "entities" engaged in the project, considering departments, workgroups, teams, committees and related entities.  Individual stakeholders are defined by the "people" (and personalities) involved in the project (the human element).   Stakeholder identification can be greatly simplified through the use of the following standardized categories:

  • Beneficiary Stakeholders:  Group/individual receiving a benefit from the project.
  • Executing Stakeholders (Management):  Group/individual responsible for managing execution.
  • Executing Stakeholders (Participants):  Group/individual responsible for project execution.
  • Oversight (Sponsor):  Group/individual responsible for oversight and sponsorship.
  • Oversight (Advisor):  Group/individual responsible for advising and overseeing project execution.

Step 2:  Who has a vested interest in the outcome?

Once stakeholders have been identified, it's time to consider the "interest" each has in the project (again from both a "project" and "process" point of view).  Interest is defined by impact and accountability:

Interest Determined by Impact:  Every project has consequences, to be realized in a variety of ways and degrees (operational, financial and personal).  Projects can change the way work is performed, lessen responsibility, add responsibility, and the like.  Impact can be felt in numerous ways, both obvious and subtle.  The more serious and significant the impact, the more "interest" in the project (and/or management process).  To streamline this assessment, "interest" can be rated at three (3) levels:

  • Maximum Impact:  The project will have significant impact on the group and/or individual.
  • Moderate Impact:  The project will have measureable impact on the group and/or individual.
  • Minimal Impact:  The project will have minor impact on the group and/or individual.

Interest Determined by Accountability It goes without saying that accountability is a great motivator.  Accountability is defined by the degree to which a stakeholder will be held responsible for their role in the project, whether for the tasks assigned, decisions made, support provided, participation, attitude, and overall contributions.  The more "accountability" the greater the interest.

  • Maximum:  The stakeholder has significant accountability for the project and/or process.
  • Moderate:  The stakeholder has measureable accountability for the project and/or process.
  • Minimal:  The stakeholder has minimal accountability for the project and/or process.

Step 3:  Who has the power to make a difference?

It takes a lot of effort to make a successful project, but it only takes a small act to undo that effort and take things in the wrong direction.  People (and groups) have the power to steer projects to success or divert the outcome in unwanted ways.  This is the two sided coin known as "stakeholder influence".  On the up side, active stakeholder engagement will certainly have a positive influence on the project and/or process (and this possibility must be cultivated).  On the down side, stakeholders also have the capacity for negative influence, realized in a myriad of ways (i.e. failure to perform, failure to decide, failure to support, procrastination, withholding information and the like).  To facilitate the stakeholder analysis, influence "potential" is largely determined by the strength of the probable consequences:

  • Strong Influence:  The stakeholder has significant capability for positive/negative influence.
  • Moderate Influence:  The stakeholder has measureable capability for positive/negative influence.
  • Weak Influence:  The stakeholder has minimal capability for positive/negative influence.

Step 4:  Putting it all together to determine stakeholder "engagement" and management priorities.

The final step in the stakeholder analysis process is to use resulting data to identify and select "priority" stakeholders as a focus for engagement and management strategies.  "Level 1" priorities will likely encompass those stakeholders with "maximum" impact and accountability and "strong" influence capability (both positive and/or negative).  Surrounding project conditions (time, funding, risk and visibility) will determine the extent to which related engagement strategies must also address impact, accountability and influence of lesser significance. 

Don't forget to examine the lessons learned from previous projects as a guideline to determine "priority stakeholders" and to refine related strategies.

Continue with more on this subject in our featured articles: The Role of the End-User in IT Projects and Easy Ways to Assign Project Roles and Responsibilities.

About Us - ITtoolkit.com has been around since 2001. We started with a few articles about IT projects, and since then have developed our own series of time-saving practices and Toolkits for managing projects and IT services. The article above is part of of our full catalog of "how-to" articles, filled with these techniques (which you won't find elsewhere) to help you get better results in less time.  We cover all the basics and then some - including projects, IT services, team building, disaster recovery and more. You can continue with our recommendations above, browse the articles catalog, or download free templates and whitepapers.  And, visit our home page to learn all that our Service Strategy and Fast Track Project Toolkits can do for you!

Subscribe to the ITtoolkit newsletter for the latest articles and updates.

See the latest in our collection of IT Management Infographics. Visualize I.T.!

Infographic: Strategic Visions for Managing IT

A picture is always worth a thousand words.  Get the "big picture" view of the value and purpose of a strategic vision for managing IT - what it is and why you need one.  Our informative infographic illustrates the key steps and issues.  see more

More Infographics:
The Challenge of the Project Constraint
How to Organize Successful Committees
Recipe for Productive Meeting Agendas

Get the "Value of a Vision" with the IT Service Strategy Toolkit

The IT Service Strategy Toolkit, from ITtoolkit.com, is the ultimate how-to guide for managing IT according to a strategic vision.  And what's the value of a vision?  Maximized IT value, optimized service capabilities, satisfied end-users and lasting IT/business alignment.  And it's all so easy to achieve with our downloadable Service Strategy Toolkit:

Make IT More Relevant!
Learn how to create your own IT management vision, covering how your IT department is organized, the types of services provided, Service Level Agreements, and more.
Make IT More Responsive!
Learn how to promote your vision through multiple organizational techniques including the IT/End-User Partnership, IT Steering Committees,  IT "stakeholder analysis", end-user roles in IT projects, and more.
Make IT More Productive!
Learn how to keep your vision going as IT services are provided, including standardized practices for projects, IT planning, and proactive problem management.
Make IT More Accepted!
Learn how to plan and execute timely, relevant 'IT Service Reviews' to determine end-user "service satisfaction" and uncover valuable lessons learned for service improvement.

The Top 10 Uses for a Strategic IT Vision

Make Projects Possible with the Fast Track Project Toolkit

What's a manager to do when faced with an important project and a big problem - namely, not enough time, resources or funding?  That's a big (and all too common) challenge, but there is an answer.  All you need to do is to "fast track" your way around every obstacle with our FAST TRACK PROJECT TOOLKIT, (and it's available now at fasttrackmanage.com).

Take on the Challenge of the Project Constraint!
Learn how to use strategic fast tracking to deliver on-time projects when time is short, resources are stretched thin and funding is limited.
Negotiate.  Define.  Meeting of the Minds!
Learn how to quickly define projects for action and approval, using (16) must-have "terms" designed to secure stakeholder acceptance and ensure relevant results.
Make the Process Fit the Project!
Learn how to "size" governance practices to optimize resource capabilities, covering all the key steps for managing risk, project status reporting, communication, change control and more.
Always Look to Improve!
Learn how to perform effective "project reviews" to evaluate project results, and use the resulting "lessons learned" for continuous improvement.
Available for Download in 3 Editions!
And, when you get the "Bundle Edition" (the best value!), you also get a complete set of organizational practices for running successful PROJECT COMMITTEES.

Fast Track Project Toolkit

You may also enjoy our informative article series on project fast tracking....