Stakeholder identification and management is a vital part of the Project Management cycle. As a collective group, the stakeholders will help form your requirements and Concept of Operations (CONOPS), any regulatory hurdles, and the sell-off of the project. However, not each stakeholder is the same, and thus management of them will vary. They will each have different roles, prefer different types and frequencies of communication, and require individual attention. Any given project will have many stakeholders, and treating them, all the same, is a waste of your time and theirs.
First, sort the stakeholders in terms of relative importance to your design and roll-out plan. Then you can begin looking at their individual needs. Start with categories such as:
· Customer/Investor - the group(s) that are providing the funding
· End-User/Consumer – those who will be using the system when deployed
· Internal Development Team – your people who will be working to deliver the system
· Sub-Contractors – Any outside work you will require
· Regulatory – Represents any environmental or statutory considerations
From the point of successful sorting, you must decide when they will need to receive project progress and how they will need it.
Examine each stakeholder with empathy and data, or who are they and why do they care. What sort of data do they need? How often do they need it? How do they drive the design? Usually, the consistent communicators are the Customers, End-User, and the Internal Team; the others are just hurdles to cross.
Beginning with Customers, the main question to ask is how involved they would like to be? As they pay the bills, you need to give them some fair say and often keep them in communication. Customers are also good to keep in a good standing relationship as they may be back for more, and life is so much easier if they trust you. Customers' most significant problem is when they want to give you too much help and end up slowing down your Team, so as a Project Manager, there is a balance between keeping them well informed and safely far enough away from the daily work.
Next, the End User, most important during the design phase and to keep abreast of their activities, if their job changes, you may need to alter your course. Also essential to keep in mind any Operations and Maintenance (O&M) tail that they will be taking on and any you may be responsible for, and again, a good rapport with them can serve you well for new requests.
Internal Team stakeholders are just as important as the other two as they build the system; you serve them best by being the buffer between them getting work done and useless meetings. They also represent most of the detailed knowledge of your Team and can offer alternative solutions and highlight upcoming risks and opportunities during the build. Treat your Team with the utmost respect as their success is yours, and you are much more likely to keep the Team for your next project. It is also a good idea to pick one or two of your Team members to prepare to take over should anything happen to you and help better their advancement opportunities.