Stakeholder Management - Definition of Terms

Stakeholder Management - Definitions & Terminology

Find out who cares about the project. And what they can do to the project, good or bad.” —Transportation Industry Manager

A project stakeholder is any group, organization, or individual who can impact or can be impacted by your project. Said more simply: these are people that have a stake in the execution and outcome of your project. If an individual has influence and/or interest in your project, they are a stakeholder—and you must strive to identify and manage their expectations.

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For instance, in our simple house renovation project, stakeholders include the homeowner (e.g., the customer), government permitting and inspection entities, utility providers, neighbors, homeowner associations, and lending agencies that might be fronting the money for the project. All of these stakeholders can impact the success of the project. You, as the project manager, must identify and, if possible, manage these individuals and groups.

Stakeholders can be positive, negative, or neutral factors for your project. Those that have high interest and/or significant influence over your project (e.g., in the form of money, resources, or power) are called “key stakeholders.” These are the people that you must focus and engage with the most.

Finally, it’s important to note that your project team and all external vendors, contractors, and suppliers are also formally considered as stakeholders, but we manage these people in very different ways than the other, traditional stakeholders of a project. For that reason, the management of them is not included in this section of the book.