What is a Stakeholder in Project Management?
Project stakeholders, from the word itself, “hold” a “stake” in the project, which means they are invested in the project in one or multiple ways. The formal definition of a stakeholder, according to the Project Management Institute (1996), refers to “individuals and organizations who are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected as a result of project execution or successful project completion.” Internal vs External Stakeholders
Types of Stakeholders
While stakeholders vary across projects, organizations, and industries, they are commonly classified into one of two categories: internal or external stakeholders.
1. Internal stakeholders
Internal stakeholders are people within the company—this includes your marketing team, managers, and executives, among others.
2. External stakeholders
External stakeholders, on the other hand, are the opposite; they’re the people outside of your business. These include your clients, suppliers, investors, and most importantly, your customers. This is especially important in a marketing context, since your customers (i.e. your clients), typically have a lot to gain or lose from how their target market responds to your campaigns.
This also makes the external stakeholder especially important, and also particularly complicated, as they are likely outside of your control or have views that differ greatly from that of your team, department, or company as a whole.
Getting Started with Project Stakeholder Management
1. Identify your stakeholders
Effective stakeholder management starts with knowing who your stakeholders are. This will give you a starting point for knowing who can influence the project’s success, and how. This results in a living document called the stakeholder analysis, which ideally is created in the early stages of your project, then updated as your project (and its stakeholders) change or evolve over time. This makes it so that you are always communicating information to the right people, in the best possible manner.
From this, you want to draw focus to your key stakeholders, which can be derived from a wide variety of factors. A common way to do this is by mapping out where they fall on a power/interest matrix:
Key stakeholders are those who exhibit high interest in your project while also holding a lot of power—we want to keep these stakeholders engaged throughout, which means more frequent communication, especially when there are notable wins in your project.
Naturally, your communication strategy will differ for stakeholders in the other quadrants. For example, you might communicate less often with graphic designers on a project for an external client, as they might be less interested in the brand compared to working on your own. You might also focus more on topics that directly influence their assigned tasks, instead of high-level information about the project/client.
2. Set expectations
On top of building a communication strategy, your stakeholder analysis also holds the potential to inform how you manage other aspects of your project. A good follow-up task is to connect with each of your stakeholders to align expectations on the following:
- What their criteria are for project success
- Any reservations they might have about the project
- How they anticipate this project impacts them
In addition, use this information to hunt down and address potential conflicts of interest between stakeholders; that way, you can be proactive on any problems involving the project’s direction, as that will impact the overall project.
Why is Effective Stakeholder Management Important?
Stakeholder management is a highly underrated skill among those that are considered essential to project managers, and its impact on a project can also be easily overlooked by other factors that directly affect the day-to-day of a project.
For one, stakeholder management is important because it keeps relevant parties invested in the project. This directly impacts the resources that are available to the project, whether these are skills, finances, or connections that are necessary for ensuring a successful campaign.
Externally, this can also impact your organization’s ability to attract both new as well as long-term partnerships—having good relationships with your external stakeholders makes them likely to work with you on multiple projects, which provide a sense of continuity and stability that is otherwise lacking when you’re constantly on the hunt for new clients, vendors or sponsors. Internally, you also end up with a highly motivated team, which increases the chances of producing excellent output.
Manage Your Stakeholders with Workamajig
Stakeholders can make or break your marketing campaign, and they can potentially lead to lasting work opportunities for you and your organization, as well as meaningful growth for your internal marketing teams.
With Workamajig, the premier marketing management software, you have an all-in-one solution for managing your projects, which means gathering information to share with your stakeholders is seamless and fast. This makes it easy to keep your key stakeholders informed, involved, and on board with your project.
Learn more about Workamajig today and use it from project intake until project closure and have a seamless experience while seeing true project management success.
Request a demo today to see how our robust software solution offers everything a marketing team needs to manage their projects with ease!