Stakeholder Reporting Needs

Recall that a stakeholder is defined as someone who has a share or an interest in your project. A stakeholder might not directly interact with the deliverables of your project. Dor example, the manager of a marketing department might never use the demographic software that you created for use by his marketing personnel, but he is a stakeholder because he will benefit from (or be hurt by) the project.

■ Your customer is a stakeholder.

■ The project sponsor is a stakeholder.

■ Your team members are stakeholders.

■ The users of the deliverable are stakeholders.

■ Those affected by the project, whether they ' l l use the deliverable or not, are stakeholders. Dor example, suppose you' re working on a project that ' s going to require heavy use of the company' s telephone system. Even though the telecommunications department may not be using your new deliverable, they will nevertheless be involved in the project and are thus stakeholders.

■ A stakeholder could be a vendor who has a keen interest in seeing a project succeed. I ve seen this in very large and very small companies, so there seems to be no company size boundary that gets in the way of a vendor being a stakeholder.

Identification of all the stakeholders of the project is critical. If you do not identify all of them, you could harm the project plan by not identifying a given stakeholder' s needs early on. In the preceding telecommunications example, suppose that you had not identified the telecomm area as a stakeholder in your project. When the time arrives that you need their assistance, they might have far more pressing items to be concerned about, or they might be very put out to learn so late about your project and its goals. Having been there before, I can tell you firsthand that stakeholders don 't like finding out they ' re involved at the very moment that their services are needed, especially if they require resources to assist you.

So, how do we figure out who the stakeholders are? Probably the best way is to have a brainstorming session with the people already assembled on the project. Perform your brainstorming early and ask, "Who do you think the stakeholders are in this project?" You might be surprised with the answers you' l l get, and you may not recognize some of the names. As new stakeholders come on board, ask them same question.

However, it' s up to the project manager to avoid the "cast of thousands" momentum that might arise from asking stakeholder after stakeholder who they think might also be a stakeholder in the project, only to garner tons of them because no one wants to disappoint you. Use your good judgment when assessing who is and who is not a stakeholder and assess the "reality quotient" behind the stakeholder claim.

Tip A vendor who' s bidding on your project isn' t a stakeholder until they get the bid!

At some point, you might hear, "No one asked me about this!" You' ve abruptly and unpleasantly found a stakeholder who was not notified of the project. You may run into situations where a stakeholder is actually not on your side when it comes to the project. She might be out rallying forces to stop the project or to outsource your efforts, even as you are arranging the stakeholder meeting agenda and e-mailing everyone with the next meeting time. It' s extremely wise to judge the political lay of the land so that you ' re not caught off guard with such two-faced activities. It happens, so be prepared for it.

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