Thursday, 2 December 2010

Stakeholder analysis

Remember that the stakeholders in a project are any people or group of people who can influence the project. This, as we've found, can widen the common idea of stakeholders as many in our industry align stakeholders solely with the clients. The important analysis prior to the start of the project is to identify the stakeholders and agree with them how you are to communicate with them about the project and how often. We've advocated using a stakeholder analysis matrix, a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix, and a communication chart. (See our book, Managing Interactive Media, Chapter 4)

So is there anything new in the field? Well, the field has expanded and there is more written about stakeholder analysis now as well as software tools specifically for stakeholder analysis. If you're under pressure from your company about stakeholders adversely influencing a project's outcome during a project's life-cycle, you might consider a tool because it offers objectivity and gravitas to your discussions with new stakeholders. We're not recommending the tools below, just drawing your attention to them as examples of what's available.
If you haven't yet experienced the fall-out from stakeholders and are not so convinced about their impact on projects you might like to read Lynda Bourne's short article, Avoiding the Successful Failure! Salient warning for those that over-zealously apply the time, cost, quality mantra in project management.

The number of training courses on stakeholder management has increased too, as well as the skill being mentioned in more job descriptions. It wasn't surprising to see more understanding and buy-in to stakeholder management in a recent project management survey of allpm.com (September 2010) where stakeholder analysis was considered a key factor for project success. This was a small poll and it was for all types of projects, not just digital development such as we are interested in, but surprising all the same.

Many influences change over the course of even a short project so don't get caught out by thinking that you've done your upfront analysis so that's that! Keep re-examining the analysis and changing the results as you go through to keep right on top of your stakeholders and their influence.

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