Episode 261: How to Identify Project Stakeholders (Free)
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It’s imperative that you know your project’s stakeholders. After all, to satisfy a stakeholder need is usually the reason why we undertake projects. That’s why we define stakeholders as a person or organization with an interest in the project’s completion. Think of influential customers, sponsors, the public or your own company that are all involved in the project.
Our guest today is Dr. Emad Rahim, DM, PMP (http://www.linkedin.com/in/erahim, @DrEmadRahim) who says that because your stakeholders require you to understand the specifications of a project and to meet their expectations, performing an analysis of who they are is essential.
And so our interview focuses on a single activity: Identifying all the stakeholders we have on the project. This is a time-consuming process, and you want to ensure no important stakeholder is missed. And to help you with that, Emad and Cornelius review eight areas that require your attention.
You can find the blog post about stakeholder identification here: http://www.coloradotech.edu/resources/blogs/january-2013/stakeholders.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode # 261. This is the Project Management Podcast at www.project-management-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Nice to have you with us.
It's imperative that you know your project stakeholders. After all to satisfy a stakeholder need is usually the reason why we undertake our projects. That's why we define a stakeholder as a personal organization with an interest in the project's completion. Think of influential customers, sponsors, the public or your own company that are all involved in the project.
Our guests today is Dr. Emad Rahim who says that because your stakeholders require you to understand the specifications of a project and to meet their expectations performing an analysis of who they are is essential. And so, our interview focuses on a single activity - identifying all the stakeholders we have on the project.
This is a time-consuming process and you want to ensure no important stakeholder is missed. And to help you with that, Emad and I review 8 areas that require your attention.
And now, you're getting warmer, warmer, oh yeah, you're getting really hot there. You're about to locate another stakeholder. Enjoy the interview.
Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Dr. Emad Rahim, appointed Endowed Entrepreneur-in-residence for Oklahoma State University and Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Emad and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™!
Dr. Emad Rahim: Great to be here! Thank you for having me.
Cornelius Fichtner: Oh, you are welcome. Thank you for joining us today! So we want to talk about stakeholders, in particular how to identify stakeholders making sure that we have everybody who is a stakeholder in our project identified. But let's take a step back here first of all and let's define stakeholder. So what is a stakeholder in your definition?
Dr. Emad Rahim: Well, stakeholders are people that have a direct or indirect impact on a project. This could be negative or this could be positive. But these people will contribute to the project in some shape or form.
Cornelius Fichtner: Okay and why do we need to identify all of them?
Dr. Emad Rahim: Well one is to make sure that we have all of the necessary information that is related to the project and also know exactly who are the players are, where the resource is located, who are the clients, what type of materials and content are needed and who do we communicate this information to. So all those things are really needed in order to fully understand who the stakeholders are and the role they play in the project.
Cornelius Fichtner: And how time consuming is stakeholder identification?
Dr. Emad Rahim: It varies depending on how large the project is. The project size, scale, complexity could change how many stakeholders there are and the level of it actually contributes to the project. So it does vary.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So what we agreed to is you co-authored a blog post about this particular topic and we're going to link to that blog post in the show notes and we're just going to go through the various areas that you and your co-author suggest that you should go through in order to identify the stakeholders. The first item that you talk about in the blog post is you have to review the project charter. How does the project charter help us?
Dr. Emad Rahim: Well the project charter is the official documentation, right? It's the official contract that green lights the project. And often, it's the project charter that tells us who the client is, who's the official client that this project is going to report to, who is actually going to be paying the bills for this project, who is the important person on this project that we are going to be held responsible to in regards to the project outcome and the quality of the project.
So it gives us an idea what this project is, what it looks like, what the outcome is going to be expected and give us an estimate of the cost and at least the direct stakeholder that this project is going to be tied to. So think of it as the official contract that green lights the project. It could be an internal document or an external document depending on the type of organization you work in.
Cornelius Fichtner: Right, and of course you mentioned earlier that depending on the size of the project, you have to invest more or less time in identifying your stakeholders and the project charter will tell you how big your project is or how small your project is and that will also give you an indication as how much you actually have to do in this regard, right?
Dr. Emad Rahim: Exactly! I've worked on small projects where the charter is simple as a one-page memo. Almost like a HR request. But I also worked in very complex projects where the charter can be almost 16 to 20 pages long. You actually have to find the stakeholder information. So you definitely need to take your time and look at that documentation and do a thorough review.
Cornelius Fichtner: Excellent! After you've reviewed the project charter, you suggest to continue with a stakeholder analysis. Tell us a little bit more about this.
Dr. Emad Rahim: Well let's talk about what our analysis is and it's really doing a breakdown in regards to evaluation, assessment of those people that are involved. So we start listing everyone, every department, external and internal people that may have a stake in this project. This could be team members. This could be the client itself. This could be vendors. People in various departments, various business units that you will be communicating in some shape or form and then we start ranking them or rating them based on their level of participation or the level of importance on this project. Is it high? Is it medium? Is it low?
And when will we start interacting with these people? When will we start communicating with these people? Is it the beginning? Is it the middle? Is it towards the end? Is it at certain milestones that we hit in the project? Is it at certain parts of the scope? So this way, we can start laying out exactly who will be part of it and what type of communication we need to provide the frequency of that communication and then this also allows your team members to add on to the discussion. We can have this discussion but it provides a visual aid to allow team members to add on to this conversation to make sure you don’t overlook anyone or any department.
Cornelius Fichtner: Do you put yourself into that as well? Do you put your name down as well as the project manager?
Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.