Stakeholders - sabateurs or saviours?

Stakeholders, the people who will be affected by the changes your project is introducing, can make or break your project.

So it is in your interest to manage your stakeholders from the start, give them a clear and accountable role in change and then equip them to fulfil it - helping to shift them from passive recipients or resistors to positive engagement.

A couple of tips:

  • Identify your stakeholders from the moment the project is approved to start
  • Keep identifying them through the life of the project. Even in the final stages, your stakeholders may be changing
  • Never neglect someone who believes they are your stakeholder, even if you don't. They could be your biggest ally or, if neglected, your worst nightmare.
  • Never accept the stakeholder who tells you they support your project so don't need involvement and to come back at the end, as this so often turns into "that wasn't what I expected" at the point it is too late and costly to change.
  • Be explicit about each stakeholders level of influence, involvement and attitude to your project
  • Understand exactly what they need to know and be capable of doing in order to sustain your project changes
  • Plan actions with your stakeholders that build throughout the project and are capable of getting them where they need to be at project closure
  • Place stakeholder management as a regular meeting agenda item and be rigorous in reviewing progress and plans
  • Support and guide the project team in taking an active role in managing the project stakeholders.
  • Create genuine opportunities for your stakeholders to influence project progress, have their ideas valued and their concerns expressed
  • Don't walk away from the project until the stakeholders can demonstrate their commitment and ability to work with the project outputs and thus secure the benefits sought

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