13.1 Identify Stakeholders – A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fifth Edition

13.1 Identify Stakeholders

Identify Stakeholders is the process of identifying the people, groups, or organizations that could impact or be impacted by a decision, activity, or outcome of the project, analyzing and documenting relevant information regarding their interests, involvement, interdependencies, influence, and potential impact on project success. The key benefit of this process is that it allows the project manager to identify the appropriate focus for each stakeholder or group of stakeholders. The inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs of this process are depicted in Figure 13-2. Figure 13-3 depicts the data flow diagram of the process.

Project stakeholders are individuals, groups, or organizations who may affect, be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project. They are comprised of persons and organizations such as customers, sponsors, the performing organization, and the public who are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the execution or completion of the project. They may also exert influence over the project and its deliverables. Stakeholders may be at different levels within the organization and may possess different authority levels, or may be external to the performing organization for the project. Section 13.1.2.1 identifies various types of project stakeholders.

It is critical for project success to identify the stakeholders early in the project or phase and to analyze their levels of interest, their individual expectations, as well as their importance and influence. This initial assessment should be reviewed and updated regularly. Most projects will have a diverse number of stakeholders depending on their size, type, and complexity. While the project manager's time is limited and should be used as efficiently as possible, these stakeholders should be classified according to their interest, influence, and involvement in the project, taking into consideration the fact that the affect or influence of a stakeholder may not occur or become evident until later stages in the project or phase. This enables the project manager to focus on the relationships necessary to ensure the success of the project.

13.1.1. Identify Stakeholders: Inputs

13.1.1.1 Project Charter

Described in Section 4.1.3.1. The project charter can provide information about internal and external parties related with the project and affected by the result or the execution of the project, such as project sponsor(s), customers, team members, groups and departments participating in the project, and other people or organizations affected by the project.

13.1.1.2 Procurement Documents

Described in Section 12.1.3.3. If a project is the result of a procurement activity or is based on an established contract, the parties in that contract are key project stakeholders. Other relevant parties, such as suppliers, should also be considered as part of the project stakeholder list.

13.1.1.3 Enterprise Environmental Factors

Described in Section 2.1.5. The enterprise environmental factors that can influence the Identify Stakeholders process include, but are not limited to:

  • Organizational culture and structure;
  • Governmental or industry standards (e.g., regulations, product standards); and
  • Global, regional or local trends, and practices or habits.

13.1.1.4 Organizational Process Assets

Described in Section 2.1.4. The organizational process assets that can influence the Identify Stakeholders process include, but are not limited to:

  • Stakeholder register templates,
  • Lessons learned from previous projects or phases, and
  • Stakeholder registers from previous projects.

13.1.2. Identify Stakeholders: Tools and Techniques

13.1.2.1 Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder analysis is a technique of systematically gathering and analyzing quantitative and qualitative information to determine whose interests should be taken into account throughout the project. It identifies the interests, expectations, and influence of the stakeholders and relates them to the purpose of the project. It also helps to identify stakeholder relationships (with the project and with other stakeholders) that can be leveraged to build coalitions and potential partnerships to enhance the project's chance of success, along with stakeholder relationships that need to be influenced differently at different stages of the project or phase.

Stakeholder analysis generally follows the steps described below:

  • Identify all potential project stakeholders and relevant information, such as their roles, departments, interests, knowledge, expectations, and influence levels. Key stakeholders are usually easy to identify. They include anyone in a decision-making or management role who is impacted by the project outcome, such as the sponsor, the project manager, and the primary customer. Identifying other stakeholders is usually done by interviewing identified stakeholders and expanding the list until all potential stakeholders are included.
  • Analyze the potential impact or support each stakeholder could generate, and classify them so as to define an approach strategy. In large stakeholder communities, it is important to prioritize the stakeholders to ensure the efficient use of effort to communicate and manage their expectations.
  • Assess how key stakeholders are likely to react or respond in various situations, in order to plan how to influence them to enhance their support and mitigate potential negative impacts.

There are multiple classification models used for stakeholders analysis, such as:

  • Power/interest grid, grouping the stakeholders based on their level of authority (“power”) and their level or concern (“interest”) regarding the project outcomes;
  • Power/influence grid, grouping the stakeholders based on their level of authority (“power”) and their active involvement (“influence”) in the project;
  • Influence/impact grid, grouping the stakeholders based on their active involvement (“influence”) in the project and their ability to effect changes to the project's planning or execution (“impact”); and
  • Salience model, describing classes of stakeholders based on their power (ability to impose their will), urgency (need for immediate attention), and legitimacy (their involvement is appropriate).

Figure 13-4 presents an example of a power/interest grid with A-H representing the placement of generic stakeholders.

13.1.2.2 Expert Judgment

To ensure comprehensive identification and listing of stakeholders, judgment and expertise should be sought from groups or individuals with specialized training or subject matter expertise, such as:

  • Senior management;
  • Other units within the organization;
  • Identified key stakeholders;
  • Project managers who have worked on projects in the same area (directly or through lessons learned);
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs) in the business or project area;
  • Industry groups and consultants; and
  • Professional and technical associations, regulatory bodies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Expert judgment can be obtained through individual consultations (one-on-one meetings, interviews, etc.) or through a panel format (focus groups, surveys, etc.).

13.1.2.3 Meetings

Profile analysis meetings are project meetings designed to develop an understanding of major project stakeholders, and they can be used to exchange and analyze information about roles, interests, knowledge, and the overall position of each stakeholder facing the project.

13.1.3. Identify Stakeholders: Outputs

13.1.3.1 Stakeholder Register

The main output of the Identify Stakeholders process is the stakeholder register. This contains all details related to the identified stakeholders including, but not limited to:

  • Identification information. Name, organizational position, location, role in the project, contact information;
  • Assessment information. Major requirements, main expectations, potential influence in the project, phase in the life cycle with the most interest; and
  • Stakeholder classification. Internal/external, supporter/neutral/resistor, etc.

The stakeholder register should be consulted and updated on a regular basis, as stakeholders may change—or new ones identified—throughout the life cycle of the project.