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How to Develop a Project Audience List

As a project manager, consider your project audience list to be a living document. You need to start developing your list as soon as you begin thinking about your project. Write down any names that occur to you; when you discuss your project with other people, ask them who they think may be affected by or interested in your project. Continue to add and subtract names to your audience list.

To increase your chances of identifying all appropriate people, develop your audience list in categories.

Start your audience list by developing a hierarchical grouping of categories like the one shown here that covers the universe of people who may be affected by, needed to support, or interested in your project:

  • Internal: People and groups inside your organization

    • Upper management: Executive-level management responsible for the general oversight of all organization operations

    • Requesters: The person who came up with the idea for your project and all the people through whom the request passed before you received it

    • Project manager: The person with overall responsibility for successfully completing the project

    • End users: People who will use the goods or services the project will produce

    • Team members: People assigned to the project whose work the project manager directs

    • Groups normally involved: Groups typically involved in most projects in the organization, such as the human resources, finance, contracts, and legal departments

    • Groups needed just for this project: Groups or people with special knowledge related to this project

  • External: People and groups outside your organization

    • Clients or customers: People or groups that buy or use your organization’s products or services

    • Collaborators: Groups or organizations with whom you may pursue joint ventures related to your project

    • Vendors, suppliers, and contractors: Organizations that provide personnel, raw materials, equipment, or other resources required to perform your project’s work

    • Regulators: Government agencies that establish regulations and guidelines that govern some aspect of your project work

    • Professional societies: Groups of professionals that may influence or be interested in your project

    • The public: The local, national, and international community of people who may be affected by or interested in your project

Continue to subdivide these categories until you arrive at position descriptions and the names of the people who occupy them.

As you develop your audience list, be sure not to overlook the following potential audiences:

  • Support groups: These people don’t tell you what you should do; instead, they help you accomplish the project’s goals. Such groups include:

    • Facilities

    • Finance

    • Human resources

    • Information services

    • Legal services

    • Procurement or contracting

    • Quality

    • Security

    • Project management office

  • End users of your project’s products: People or groups who will use the goods and services your project produces.

  • People who will maintain or support the final product: People who will service your project’s final products affect the continuing success of these products.

Many different groups of people may influence the success of or have an interest in your project. Knowing who these people are allows you to plan to involve them at the appropriate times during your project. Therefore, identifying all project audiences as soon as possible and reflecting any changes in those audiences as soon as you find out about them are important steps to take as you manage your project.

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