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We Asked the Project Management Community: What Steps Do You Take To Identify and Prioritize All Stakeholders at the Start of a Project?

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We asked the project management community:

What steps do you take to identify and prioritize all stakeholders at the start of a project?


What steps do you take to identify all stakeholders at the start of a project? Share your tips on the PMI Project, Program and Portfolio Management LinkedIn Group.


“I like to start by creating a list of all impacted areas or departments, internal and external. Then, I add names of stakeholders as I meet with various leaders. Even if I think I've identified everyone, at the end of every conversation I ask, ‘Is there anyone else you'd recommend I connect with?’ For prioritization, I use a digital app for notes on each stakeholder, such as personal information, likes and dislikes, and anything else—positive and negative—that might help build strong engagement with them.”

—Jason Orloske, PMP, chief of staff, Dakota Medical Foundation, Fargo, North Dakota, USA


“If you haven't received an in-depth debriefing on the project, read the scope document for the project. It likely will either explicitly list stakeholders or help you deduce who the main stakeholders will be, such as types of end users with an IT project. If someone else wrote the scope document, talk with that person to ensure you're on the same page in terms of which stakeholders are most critical. As humans, we are prone to make assumptions for sake of efficiency, so you need an intentional mindset and process to reliably identify stakeholders.”

—Chris Schleich, engineering manager, Enterprise Automation, Irvine, California, USA


“From my perspective, identifying all the stakeholders feels like a journey of discovery, following leads and being a detective. Over the years, I've kept track of the questions that are most helpful in revealing the various aspects of a project, including stakeholders. While these questions and the overall process can vary with every project, I always make sure to seek out people in the organization's enabling areas to ensure I've captured all the right stakeholders. These areas can vary, but they typically include purchasing (can reveal suppliers), legal (can reveal regulators or compliance entities), audit, IT, marketing, governance and human resources. The biggest challenge that disrupts any process is a lack of adequate time. But in the face of urgency, you have to remind yourself at all times that successful stakeholder analysis is crucial to establishing solid relationships, trust and buy-in.”

—Jan Schiller, PMP, partner and chief project officer, Berkshire Consulting LLC, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA


“I use the enterprise architecture as a guide to identifying and creating a stakeholder registry. I create a matrix to classify and prioritize each stakeholder's influence and impact on the project. Influence is defined by how much each stakeholder might modify the decisions of any other involved in the process. No matter what type of array is used, I try to classify them in these categories:

■ Keep satisfied: Pay attention to their requirements but don't bore them with constant communication.

■ Manage closely: Involve these key stakeholders throughout the process of creating a solution.

■ Monitor: Have them always in mind because they can change classification through the process of creating a solution.

■ Keep informed: Share information with them and record their needs in order to reduce stakeholder anxiety.”

—Sergio Luis Conte, PhD, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMP, project and program management senior supervisor, project management office global trade services, PepsiCo, Buenos Aires, Argentina


“Always start with documentation to identify key stakeholders. For me, the two major sources are the business case and the benefits management plan. But the communications management plan is a source of knowledge about the project's stakeholders, because it indicates a hierarchy for stakeholders that you can help use to prioritize engagement. The stakeholder registers from similar previous projects and the organization's lessons learned repository definitely help identify and prioritize stakeholders. Finally, consider the social, technical, economic and political context and consequences of a project to help reveal any stakeholders you might have overlooked.”

—Afshin Montazami, engineering director consultant, Energy Industries Engineering and Design, Tehran, Iran


“We utilize governance forums with representatives from across our enterprise prior to final chartering. This allows for the validation of and/or the identification of additional stakeholders. The secondary benefit of this process is that the organization as a whole learns who it needs to include in the future.”

—Heather Vickers, senior continuous process improvement analyst, Defense Logistics Agency, Arlington, Virginia, USA

Expanding Engagement

As the range of stakeholders in the business world widens, organizations—and project teams—must ensure strong engagement at all levels.

Does your organization seek out the views of wider stakeholders*?


*Includes employees, suppliers, community and investors

Top three methods used to seek stakeholder feedback:


Source: Corporate Governance Report, Grant Thornton, 2018



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