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The importance of identifying internal and external stakeholders before a project starts


Published: 28th November 2022

A project is a process that requires a range of different levels of participation from a number of teams or individuals in order to achieve a successful outcome from the project. However, when it comes to participation requirements within a project, these are not the same for all of those who are associated with the project. Participation expectations within a project are dependent on the level of involvement that a stakeholder has, whether they are internal or external. As a result of this, the successful completion of a project relies on the ability to identify who the project stakeholders are and also setting out and communicating the participation expectations.

Identifying your key stakeholders

A project stakeholder is an individual, a small group or even a department within an organisation who may be affected by the results that will come from the project. It also includes those who have an effect on the way in which the project might be carried out. In other words, they are those who have a stake in the end result of the project.

There are three identifiable main categories of stakeholder involvement or interest.

The first of these categories includes those stakeholders who are involved in the project in an active capacity. The second category will include those stakeholders who have a vested interest in the work that is being performed by the project or in the end result of the project. The third category includes anyone who may have a degree of influence over the project or its deliverables.

Managing the expectations of stakeholders

It is essential that you identify your stakeholders into only so that you understand exactly who they are but also so they you can assess the best way to manage the expectations that they might have. Regardless of their level or involvement every stakeholder will have an expectation from the project or its outcome.

This is something that can be used to your advantage. When it comes to defining your project objectives and looking at your methods, planning and problem solving the more thoroughly you have considered the interest of your stakeholders they greater your chance the project will be approved.

When you have identified your stakeholder, this will help you with clearer paths of communication during any project meetings. Understanding where your stakeholders fit into the development stages of your project is also vital when it comes to managing expectations.

The more you understand your stakeholders the easier it can make the lines of communication between the project manager and the different categories of stakeholders. Using the right tools for your communication can make all the difference when it comes to keeping everyone in the loop. Stakeholders who are external are not always in the same location and this can make communication that little bit trickier. Technologies like virtual meeting apps, emails and cloud-based systems can really make all the difference.

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