What Are Stakeholders?

stakeholders - by bryancrump via flickr

stakeholders - by bryancrump via flickr

The stakeholder was invented in 1847 and is a stylish display case to store your favorite vampire-killing wooden stakes.? Advanced designs include a quick-release mechanism for convenient access in case of emergency.? Mine has an elegant drawer to also store garlic cloves, holy water, and my favorite crucifix.

Just kidding.

Mine doesn’t have that fancy drawer.? I had to buy the cheaper model they had.? 🙁

Seriously Now

“Stakeholder” is just a fancy term for someone who cares about the project.

(Gee, that was easy!)

Who Has a Horse In This Race?

For example, the project I am currently working on has a multitude of stakeholders.

  • My program manager has a vested interest to see the project succeed for the benefit of the company
  • My staff are the people doing the project work, so they automatically are stakeholders.
  • The agency who contracts with my company own the end result of our project
  • Other agencies also have a stake in the project.? For instance, NASA is the agency who will launch the satellite into orbit and we work very closely with them.
  • Elected officials have an interest in our project because the results could be used their state or federal agencies for various programs and to inform policy decisions.
  • US taxpayers have an interest in our project because their tax dollars are being used to fund it!
  • Many individuals also have an interest because our product as well.? Scientists can use our data to study climate change, forestry and agriculture, and a multitude of other applications.

Focus On The Individuals

Organizations or individuals can be thought of as stakeholders.? When you really do an analysis and find out what everyone is looking for though, it’s important to have individuals identified as stakeholders, and not just organizations.? (Remember, projects consist of people!)

A matrix of some sort where you do an analysis of your stakeholders is always helpful.

Don’t Go Too Far

It is usually helpful to only include direct stakeholders for the sake of analysis on a project.? Otherwise, you may end up including the entire population of planet earth.? You could say that the families of my project staff are also stakeholders, but what someone’s 12-year old son thinks we should do is probably not going to make it into project planning.