How to Start Your Project Stakeholder Register
A project stakeholder register is a living document. You need to start developing your register as soon as you begin thinking about your project.
Begin your project’s stakeholder register by considering the initial version of the register that’s generated upon completion of the development of the project charter. Next, write down any other 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. Then select a small group of the stakeholders you identify and conduct a formal brainstorming session. Continue to add and subtract names to your stakeholder register until you can’t think of anyone else.
Using specific categories
To increase your chances of identifying all appropriate people, develop your stakeholder register in categories. You’re less likely to overlook people when you consider them department by department or group by group instead of trying to identify everyone from the organization individually at the same time.
Start your stakeholder register by developing a hierarchical grouping of categories that covers the universe of people who may be affected by, be needed to support, or be interested in your project. You can start with the following groups:
- 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 further until you arrive at job titles (or position descriptions) and the names of the people who occupy them. (The process of systematically separating a whole into its component parts is called decomposition.)
Considering stakeholders that are often overlooked
As you develop your stakeholder register, be sure not to overlook the following potential stakeholders:
- Support groups: These people don’t tell you what you should do (or help you deal with the trauma of project management); instead, they help you accomplish the project’s goals. If support groups know about your project early, they can fit you into their work schedules more readily. They can also tell you information about their capabilities and processes that may influence what your project can accomplish and by when. Such groups include
- Human resources
- Information technology (IT)
- Legal services
- Procurement or contracting
- Project management office
- Help desks
- Call centers
- End users of your project’s products: End users are people or groups who will use the goods and services your project produces. Involving end users at the beginning of and throughout your project helps ensure that the goods and services produced are as easy as possible to implement and use, and are most responsive to their true needs. It also confirms that you appreciate the fact that the people who will use a product may have important insights into what it should look like and do, which increases the chances that they’ll work to implement the products successfully.
In some cases, you may omit end users on your stakeholder register because you don’t know who they are. In other situations, you may think you have taken them into account through liaisons — people who represent the interests of the end users. (Check out the nearby sidebar “Discovering the real end users” for a costly example of what can happen when you depend solely on liaisons.)
- 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. Involving these people throughout your project gives them a chance to make your project’s products easier to maintain and support. It also allows them to become familiar with the products and effectively build their maintenance into existing procedures.
Examining the beginning of a sample stakeholder register
Suppose you’re asked to coordinate your organization’s annual blood drive. The image below illustrates some of the groups and people you may include in your project’s stakeholder register as you prepare for your new project.