According to the PMBOK Guide, a stakeholder can be “a person, a group, or an organization that may be affected, or have any interest in the project, or the project’s outcome; either directly or indirectly.”
Your project is not successful if your stakeholders are not happy. Therefore, stakeholder satisfaction is essential for successful project completion. In project management, a stakeholder register is a document that lists a project’s stakeholders and information about their involvement in the project.
The stakeholder register is your answer to ensuring stakeholder satisfaction through the project’s journey, from initiation to completion. It is a document that encapsulates all members involved in the project from its inception to completion. The document consists of details such as contact information, the role each stakeholder plays in the project, their power or influence over decisions, their needs or expectations from the project, and the frequency at which they need status updates.
A little time spent identifying, evaluating, and capturing stakeholder interest and concerns can pay big dividends. The register is helpful when managing large projects and projects that are moving at a fast pace. As we see all the stakeholders in one place, we can optimally use our limited time and resources to achieve the desired results.
Projects are dynamic, and stakeholders make things interesting. The stakeholders are all the parties involved in the project. Therefore, to manage project stakeholders, it is essential to have a register for this purpose. The register helps identify all stakeholders involved at a single glance. In addition to this, it also gives an insight into the role that each stakeholder plays in the project. A said stakeholder can hold power and influence to decide the course of the project. Hence, it is essential to meet the needs and expectations of these stakeholders to keep them satisfied with the progress of the project. The register also specifies the frequency at which they need to be updated and how they can be communicated at any given time. This helps facilitate the smooth progress and completion of projects while also ensuring the satisfaction of all parties involved.
At any given time, an individual may exert their influence and disrupt your project. Or perhaps a group may be struggling in terms of their attitude towards the project. And let’s not forget external organizations that our project may impact.
So, when do we start identifying stakeholders? Day one. When you're assigned a project, one of the first things that you do is start asking who may be impacted or who may impact this project. This helps identify participants for the project charter process.
Some stakeholders are obvious—the project sponsor, the project team, the project manager, and your customers. However, there may be unknown/unknown stakeholders. We don’t know they exist, and we don’t know their potential impact.
You can categorize the information in the stakeholder register into three areas:
Generally speaking, the project’s stakeholders fall into three categories:
These are the stakeholders within the organization and usually include senior management, technical management, and line managers, who are generally focused on a successful project and a successful product on the market. This type of stakeholder also includes the project team itself, which is interested in job security, fair wages, and career advancement.
This category contains stakeholders who have an “interest” in the product, though not in the organization. For example, this category includes customers interested in purchasing a product that improves their lives at a fair price and contains suppliers who provide tools, equipment, and services to carry out the project successfully. This category also includes governments with a regulatory interest in the product and want to protect the public from the negative consequences of using the product. And finally, the general public is also included here, even if they are not stakeholders until they experience the project’s outcome.
The third group of stakeholders is the financial person or organization that supports the project. Investors, creditors, and banks that have financed the project are interested in achieving a return on investment within a reasonable time frame.
Therefore, each of these stakeholders should be recorded, complete with contact details, job descriptions, position in the organizational structure, level of authority, and role in the project. In short, effective stakeholder management requires the project manager to know who can influence the project so that quick decisions can be made in case of problems.
In most cases, stakeholders have a definite “interest” in the project, e.g., a regulatory agency requiring an environmental assessment before issuing permits. However, this is not always so immediate; often, stakeholders have minor requirements that only arise when they are not met.
Each stakeholder should be evaluated on what their requirements are. In addition, each stakeholder has expectations about how the project will proceed, and those expectations govern their actions. Furthermore, stakeholders have various levels of influence: from providing simple feedback to completely shutting the project down.
Each stakeholder has a different power over the project, and the project manager should assess where each stakeholder’s interest is located. For example, stakeholders who can shut down the project need to get more attention from the project manager. Stakeholders also enter the project at different stages of the project life cycle. This is why the project stakeholder register must be updated regularly.
In short, in this part of the stakeholder register, stakeholders will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
If duly filled in, this part will help the project manager complete the project with minimal setback.
Stakeholders can be classified in several different ways. One of those is Internal/External, which can be used to determine contractual and procurement requirements.
Another classification method is called the Impact/Influence matrix, which can ascertain potential adverse project impacts.
In this classification: Impact is the magnitude of the potential disruption to the project. Influence is the ability to motivate others to disrupt the project. Those with influence must be kept satisfied. Those with impact must be kept informed. Those with both impact and influence must be managed closely.
One universal technique is the Power/Influence grid, where you group stakeholders based on their level of power (High/Low) and influence (High/Low). Project managers should carefully plan and execute their communication with the High Power/High Influence stakeholders as they play a key role in decision-making regarding the project.
Having understood the various roles they play, let us now look at the elements of a stakeholder registry.
You create the stakeholder register when the project charter is signed. It has your stakeholders’ information and strategies to manage them. Identifying stakeholders is a continuous process, and this document should always be kept current.
After completing the stakeholder classification, the stakeholder management strategy is developed. This will help the project manager manage them according to their needs, influence, and interest. For example, a more influential stakeholder will require a different strategy than another stakeholder with a lower level of impact.
The stakeholder register may contain confidential information, and not everyone may be allowed access to this document. Therefore, it is crucial to keep this document in a safe place. However, many organizations do not restrict access to the stakeholder register, in which case a separate stakeholder strategy document can be created and kept in a safe place. In addition, as the project progresses, new stakeholders will be identified, and their attributes may also change. This is why it is crucial to keep the register up-to-date throughout the life cycle of the project.
Stakeholder management plays a vital role in the success of a project. Conversely, inadequate management of project stakeholders, especially those with high power and interest, can lead to project failure. Therefore, project teams and the project manager must perform timely and accurate stakeholder analysis, ranking, and prioritization, considering the ability of stakeholders to influence the project.
Here is a free stakeholder register template that you can use effectively for any project. You can modify the template to suit your project and business.