Project Stakeholder Engagement


Stakeholders are individuals, groups, or entities who have a vested interest or concern in a particular project, initiative, organization, or system. They can influence or be influenced by the outcomes, decisions, and activities related to the project or entity. Identifying and managing stakeholders is a critical aspect of project management and organizational governance. Here's a breakdown of different types of stakeholders:

Internal Stakeholders:

  • Employees: Those directly involved in the project or working within the organization.
  • Management: Leaders, executives, or decision-makers within the organization.
  • Departments: Various departments within the organization, such as marketing, finance, operations, etc.
  • Shareholders: Individuals or entities that own shares in the organization.

External Stakeholders:

  • Customers/Clients: Those who use or are affected by the products or services provided by the organization.
  • Suppliers/Partners: Individuals or companies that provide goods, services, or support to the organization.
  • Regulatory Bodies/Government: Government agencies, regulatory bodies, or legislative entities that oversee or influence the organization's operations.
  • Community: Local communities or interest groups impacted by the organization's activities.
  • Competitors: Other entities operating in the same industry or market.

Special Interest Groups:

  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): Organizations advocating for specific social, environmental, or political causes.
  • Industry Associations: Groups representing the interests of companies within a particular industry.
  • Media: Journalists, bloggers, or media organizations that report on or influence public perception of the organization.

Project-Specific Stakeholders:

  • Project Team Members: Individuals directly involved in the planning, execution, and delivery of the project.
  • End Users: Those who will ultimately use the products or services produced by the project.
  • Sponsors: Individuals or entities providing financial or other support for the project.
  • Vendors/Contractors: External parties contracted to provide goods or services for the project.

Managing stakeholders involves identifying their interests, expectations, and levels of influence, as well as engaging with them throughout the project lifecycle to address concerns, gather feedback, and ensure alignment with project objectives. Effective stakeholder management helps build support for the project, mitigates risks, and increases the likelihood of successful outcomes.

Stakeholder Register

    A stakeholder register is a document used in project management to identify, analyze, and categorize stakeholders involved in a project. It serves as a central repository of information about stakeholders, including their interests, influence, expectations, and potential impact on the project. Here's what a typical stakeholder register may include: 

  • Identification Information :
  • Name, Organizational Position, Location, Role in the project, Contact info
  • Assessment Information:
  • Major Requirement, Main expectation, Potential Influence
  • Stakeholders Category:
  • External/Internal, Supporter, Neutral, Resister 

The stakeholder register is a dynamic document that may evolve throughout the project as new stakeholders are identified, their roles change, or their interests shift. Regular updates and reviews of the stakeholder register are essential to ensure effective stakeholder management and project success. 

Stakeholder Analysis : Power Grid Matrix

A power grid matrix, also known as a power-interest grid or influence-interest matrix, is a tool used in stakeholder analysis to categorize stakeholders based on their level of power and their level of interest in a project or initiative. The matrix helps project managers and teams understand the dynamics of stakeholder engagement and prioritize their efforts accordingly.

Here's how a typical power grid matrix is structured:

  1. Power Axis: This axis represents the level of power or influence that stakeholders have over the project. Power can be defined in various ways, such as authority, control over resources, decision-making ability, or political leverage. Stakeholders with high power are typically those who can significantly impact the project's direction, decisions, or outcomes. Stakeholders with low power have minimal ability to influence the project and its outcomes.

  2. Interest Axis: This axis represents the level of interest that stakeholders have in the project. Interest refers to the degree to which stakeholders are affected by the project's outcomes or have a vested interest in its success. Stakeholders with high interest are those who stand to gain or lose the most from the project and its outcomes. Stakeholders with low interest have minimal involvement or stake in the project and may be less engaged or concerned about its progress.

  3. Quadrants: Based on the intersection of the power and interest axes, stakeholders are categorized into four quadrants:   

  • Low Power, Low Interest (Monitor) : These stakeholders have low power and a low level of interest in the project. They may have minimal impact on the project and may only need to be kept informed at a basic level. Examples may include peripheral stakeholders or individuals with tangential connections to the project.
  • Low Power, High Interest (Keep Informed): These stakeholders have low power but a high level of interest in the project. While they may not have significant influence over the project, they are directly affected by its outcomes and may require regular communication and involvement. Examples may include end users, community groups, or project team members.
  • High Power, Low Interest (Keep Satisfied): These stakeholders have significant power but a low level of interest in the project. While they may not be directly impacted by the project's outcomes, they still have the ability to influence it. Engaging with them strategically to secure their support or mitigate potential risks is important. Examples may include government agencies or industry associations.
  • High Power, High Interest (Managed Closely) : These stakeholders have significant power and a high level of interest in the project. They are typically key players who need to be closely engaged and managed throughout the project lifecycle. Examples may include senior executives, major investors, or regulatory bodie

By plotting stakeholders on the power grid matrix, project teams can develop tailored strategies for engaging with each group, allocating resources effectively, and managing relationships to maximize project success. Regular review and updates to the power grid matrix ensure that stakeholder dynamics are accurately reflected throughout the project lifecycle

Stakeholder Analysis : Salience Model

The Salience Model, developed by Mitchell, Agle, and Wood in 1997, is a framework used in stakeholder theory to analyze and categorize stakeholders based on three dimensions: power, legitimacy, and urgency. The model helps identify and prioritize stakeholders by assessing their salience, which refers to their significance or importance to the organization or project. Here's an overview of each dimension:

  1. Power: Power refers to the extent to which stakeholders can influence or control the organization or project and its outcomes. Stakeholders with high power have the ability to impose their will on the organization or project, make decisions that affect its direction, and allocate resources. Stakeholders with low power have limited ability to influence the organization or project and may have less control over its outcomes.

  2. Legitimacy: Legitimacy refers to the perceived appropriateness or validity of stakeholders' claims to be involved in the organization or project. Stakeholders with high legitimacy are those whose involvement is considered appropriate, justified, or recognized by the organization or society. Stakeholders with low legitimacy may have questionable claims to involvement or may be perceived as illegitimate by the organization or society.

  3. Urgency: Urgency reflects the degree of time sensitivity or criticality associated with stakeholders' claims or needs. Stakeholders with high urgency have pressing needs or demands that require immediate attention or response from the organization. Stakeholders with low urgency have less time-sensitive or critical claims or needs that can be addressed over a longer timeframe.

Based on these dimensions, stakeholders can be categorized into different levels of salience:

  • Definitive Stakeholders: These stakeholders possess high levels of power, legitimacy, and urgency. They are critical to the organization or project and require close attention and engagement.
  • Dominant Stakeholders: These stakeholders have high power but may lack legitimacy or urgency. They exert significant influence over the organization or project and need to be managed carefully.
  • Dependent Stakeholders: These stakeholders have high legitimacy but may lack power or urgency. While they may not have direct influence, their involvement is considered important and should be acknowledged.
  • Dangerous Stakeholders: These stakeholders have high urgency but may lack power or legitimacy. They may present risks or threats to the organization if their needs or demands are not addressed promptly.
  • Discretionary Stakeholders: These stakeholders have moderate levels of power, legitimacy, and urgency. Their involvement may be discretionary, depending on the organization's priorities and resources.

The Salience Model helps organizations prioritize their engagement with stakeholders based on their level of salience, enabling more effective stakeholder management and decision-making. It emphasizes the importance of considering multiple dimensions of stakeholders' relationships with the organization rather than focusing solely on their power or influence.

Stakeholder Engagement Plan

Stakeholders can fall into various categories based on their level of awareness and support for a project or initiative. Here's how these categories might be defined:

  1. Unaware Stakeholders: These stakeholders lack knowledge or understanding of the project or initiative and its objectives. They may not be informed about its existence, purpose, or potential impacts.

  2. Resistant Stakeholders: Resistant stakeholders are aware of the project or initiative but oppose or are sceptical about its objectives, methods, or potential outcomes. They may express concerns, objections, or outright opposition, which could impede progress or require mitigation strategies.

  3. Neutral Stakeholders: Neutral stakeholders neither actively support nor oppose the project or initiative. They may have limited interest or involvement and may not exert significant influence on its progress or outcomes.

  4. Supportive Stakeholders: Supportive stakeholders are aware of the project or initiative and actively endorse it. They may offer resources, expertise, or advocacy to help further its goals.

  5. Leading Stakeholders: Leading stakeholders are actively involved in driving the project or initiative forward. They may hold influential positions or have significant decision-making power within the organization or community, allowing them to shape its direction and outcomes.

These categories can help project managers and leaders identify stakeholders' attitudes and perceptions towards the project or initiative, allowing for tailored communication, engagement, and management strategies to address their specific needs and concerns.

Stakeholder Engagement Assessment Matrix is a simple yet powerful project management technique to document desired and monitor actual engagement levels of stakeholders. It helps identify potential gaps in the involvement of stakeholders. Below are some examples of this matrix.

Stakeholder Engagement Plan is a component of the project management plan that explains the management strategies required to effectively engage stakeholders. In addition to the data gathered in the stakeholder register it provides.

  • Desired and current engagement levels of key stakeholders 
  • Scope and impact of change to stakeholders 
  • Identified interrelationships and potential overlap between stakeholders 
  • Stakeholder communication requirements for the current project phase; 
  • Information to be distributed to stakeholders, including language, format, content , and level of detail; 
  • Reason for the distribution of that information and the expected impact to stakeholder engagement; 
  • Time frame and frequency for the distribution of required information to stakeholders. 
  • Method for updating and refining the stakeholder management plan as the project progresses and develops. 

Managing Stakeholder Engagement

Managing stakeholder engagement is a critical aspect of project management that involves effectively communicating with and involving stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle to ensure their needs, concerns, and expectations are addressed.  Here are some key steps and strategies for managing stakeholder engagement:

  1. Communicate Effectively: Establish clear and open lines of communication with stakeholders. Provide regular updates on project progress, milestones, and any changes that may impact them. Tailor communication to each stakeholder group's preferences and needs.

  2. Build Relationships: Foster positive relationships with stakeholders by actively listening to their feedback, addressing their concerns, and involving them in decision-making processes when appropriate. Show appreciation for their support and contributions to the project.

  3. Manage Expectations: Set realistic expectations with stakeholders regarding project goals, timelines, budget, and outcomes. Be transparent about any challenges or risks the project may face and how you plan to mitigate them.

  4. Resolve Conflicts: Address conflicts and disagreements among stakeholders promptly and constructively. Facilitate discussions to find mutually acceptable solutions and ensure all parties feel heard and valued.

Controlling stakeholder engagement

Controlling stakeholder engagement involves monitoring and adjusting the strategies and activities used to engage with stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle. It focuses on ensuring that stakeholder needs are being met, expectations are managed effectively, and relationships remain positive. Here are key steps and strategies for controlling stakeholder engagement:

  1. Monitor Stakeholder Engagement: Regularly assess the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement activities and communication channels. Monitor stakeholders' reactions, feedback, and level of participation to gauge their engagement and satisfaction.

  2. Track Changes in Stakeholder Dynamics: Keep track of any changes in stakeholders' needs, priorities, or attitudes that may occur over the course of the project. Stay informed about external factors or events that could influence stakeholders' perceptions or interests.

  3. Adjust Communication Strategies: Be flexible in your communication approach based on stakeholder preferences and feedback. Adjust the frequency, format, and content of communication to ensure it remains relevant and impactful.

  4. Manage Expectations: Continuously manage stakeholders' expectations by providing realistic and transparent information about project progress, challenges, and outcomes. Address any misconceptions or concerns promptly to prevent dissatisfaction or misunderstandings.

  5. Address Issues and Concerns: Proactively identify and address any issues or concerns raised by stakeholders. Respond promptly to inquiries, complaints, or feedback to demonstrate responsiveness and commitment to stakeholder needs.

  6. Adapt Engagement Activities: Modify engagement activities and initiatives as needed to better meet stakeholders' needs and preferences. Consider using different communication channels, organizing additional meetings or workshops, or involving stakeholders in decision-making processes to enhance engagement.

  7. Mitigate Risks: Identify and mitigate risks associated with stakeholder engagement, such as conflicts of interest, resistance to change, or lack of stakeholder support. Develop contingency plans to address potential issues and ensure stakeholder concerns are addressed effectively.

  8. Document and Report: Keep thorough documentation of stakeholder engagement activities, including meeting minutes, correspondence, and feedback received. Provide regular reports to project stakeholders and leadership on the status of stakeholder engagement efforts and any significant developments.

  9. Seek Continuous Improvement: Continuously evaluate and seek opportunities to improve stakeholder engagement practices. Solicit feedback from stakeholders on their experiences and perceptions to identify areas for enhancement and innovation.

  10. Ensure Closure: Properly close out stakeholder engagement activities at the end of the project by providing final updates, sharing project outcomes, and expressing appreciation for stakeholders' contributions and support.

By controlling stakeholder engagement effectively, project managers can maintain positive relationships with stakeholders, mitigate risks, and enhance project success. This involves ongoing monitoring, adjustment, and responsiveness to stakeholder needs and feedback throughout the project lifecycle.