Understanding Stakeholder Roles

The second step in identifying stakeholders is identifying the potential impact on or support for the project each may have and then classifying them according to impact so that you can devise a strategy to deal with those impacts should they arise.

In order to determine potential impact, it's important for the project manager to understand each stakeholder's role in the project and in the organization. Get to know them and their interests. Determine the relationship structure among the various stakeholders. Start cultivating partnerships with these stakeholders now, because it's going to get pretty cozy during the course of your project. If you establish good working relationships up front and learn a little about their business concerns and needs, it might be easier to negotiate or motivate them later when you have a pressing issue that needs action. Knowing which stakeholders work well together and which don't can also help you in the future. One stakeholder might have the authority or influence to twist the arm of another, figuratively speaking, of course. Or, conversely, you might know of two stakeholders who are like oil and water when put into the same room together. This can be valuable information to keep under your hat for future reference.

Some stakeholders may have a significant amount of influence over the project and its outcomes. Understanding the organizational structure, and where the stakeholders fit in that structure, should be your first step in determining the level of influence they have. For example, if Melanie in accounting wields a significant amount of power and influence over the organization, when you need input or decisions from her regarding costs or budgets for the project, you better believe that those decisions are not likely to be overridden. Conversely, if stakeholders with little influence provide direction that you don't verify, that input could be overridden at a later date by a more powerful stakeholder, causing changes to the project.

You can essentially classify the power and influence of each stakeholder on a simple four-square grid. The PMBOK® Guide lists four classification models for this task:

■ Power/Interest grid

■ Power/Influence grid

■ Influence/Impact grid

■ Salience model

The first three grids are self-explanatory. The Salience model is more complicated than a four-square grid because it charts three factors: stakeholder power, urgency, and legitimacy. Urgency refers to a stakeholders level of need for attention as immediate, occasional, or rarely. Legitimacy concerns the appropriateness of the stakeholder's participation at given times during the project.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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