Project Initiation and Stakeholders
March 28, 2009 2 Comments
Project initiation is the first step in the project management process. It is where we have to figure out who the key players will be on our team and how we are going to define the scope of the project. This is where we do a stakeholder analysis. A sample template of a stakeholder analysis can be found at the Project Management Institute website.
I’d like to compare the stakeholder analysis to the game of chess. It is very strategic in nature, but in order to learn how to play, one has to know how to identify the difference between the rooks, king, queen, bishops and pawns. Players need to know how to move around within the 64 squares of the board. In project management doing a stakeholder analysis is sort of like learning a chess game because a good project manager learns who the customers are and what resources are available, because resources will always be limited, so who you know and how you build relationships will matter.
Not all stakeholders have the same reason for participating in a project so it is important to understand why they are there and what motivates them. Having that knowledge will be helpful for figuring out how to manage them. Looking for people with the right attitude will matter. For example, is there a way to know where they fall in the Meyers-Briggs scale or other tools to identify social styles? What are the social ‘norms’ of the organization? How do people communicate and interact? Some prefer face to face meetings, others email or voicemail. Keep track of this because it can be an important factor. Our expertise doesn’t have to be what we do for our job. It is about what the culture wants. Give rewards, find what people are doing right and they will do more.
Good questions to ask around the stakeholder analysis:
- Who are the stakeholders and how can we help them understand what is in it for them?
- How do they want to receive communication?
- Do stakeholders understand their roles in the project?
- Where do they fall in organizational hierarchy?
- What happens to the project if a stakeholder gets overlooked?
- Can anything be done to avoid missing stakeholders in the future?