According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the term project stakeholder refers to, ‘an individual, group, or organization, who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project’ (Project Management Institute, 2013). ISO 21500 uses a similar definition.
Project stakeholders are entities that have an interest in a given project. These stakeholders may be inside or outside an organization which:
- sponsor a project, or
- have an interest or a gain upon a successful completion of a project;
- may have a positive or negative influence in the project completion.
The following are examples of project stakeholders:
- Project leader
- Project team members
- Senior management
- Project customer
- Resource Managers
- Line Managers
- Product user group
- Project testers
- Any group impacted by the project as it progresses
- Any group impacted by the project when it is completed
- Subcontractors to the project
- Consultants to the project
Rather than focusing on one subset of stakeholders, Lynda Bourne advocates prioritizing all stakeholders and focusing your attention on the ‘most important’ at this point in time. Her view of importance encompasses an assessment of the power, proximity and urgency associated with each stakeholder. The Stakeholder Circle methodology is described in her Doctoral thesis: Project Relationship Management and the Stakeholder Circle.
The rationale for this emphasis on decision makers is part of project stakeholder management and a key component in affecting change in an organization. As John Kotter, a professor at the Harvard Business School and the author of numerous books on corporate culture, change and leadership such as "Leading Change" proposes, project management and change management are intrinsically linked. In order to enable organizational change, identifying and understanding how to interact with project stakeholders is key.
- Stakeholder Relationship Management
- Project Relationship Management and the Stakeholder Circle
- "John P. Kotter - Faculty". Harvard University. Harvard.edu. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
- "Applying Kotter's Change Management Principles to Project Management". Change Leadership Network. Change Leadership Network (dead link). Retrieved 12 July 2015.
Project Management Institute (2013) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fifth Edition, Newtown Square, PA, USA: Project Management Institute, p. 589. ISBN 978-1935589679
Freeman RE (1984) Strategic Management: a Stakeholder Approach. Pitman Series in Business and Public Policy, Harpercollins College Div; First Edition, 275 p. ISBN 978-0273019138