How to Identify Project Stakeholders

Include all stakeholders in the change process for maximum success.
Include all stakeholders in the change process for maximum success. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Even a small change to a business process can benefit some people and negatively impact others. A change of materials used in a manufacturing process can cause a lot of problems for operations if the materials don’t work well with the existing equipment. Management must identify all possible stakeholders when building a project team and before implementing change in an organization. Stakeholders are those who either make the change, are affected by change, implement it, or whose work will be altered because of it. Effective project management identifies and involves stakeholders prior to implementation.

Determine the desired outcome of the project. For example, a company decides to change the packaging process in a commercial bakery. Instead of using wire twist ties to close the bags, it is changing to small hard plastic closures. The desired outcome is to save money and improve the fresh bread quality. Making a small change can impact a variety of stakeholders who should be included in the project.

Create a flowchart of the project. A flowchart is a visual picture of the flow of a process. Capture each step on a flip chart or whiteboard, including variations possible for each step. Once finished, go back over each step and identify the internal person who is responsible for each step, those who support each step and those whose work is affected in anyway by each step.

Identify those directly affected by the project outcomes. Machine operators, equipment designers, engineers, maintenance staff, operations trainers, supervisors and shift leaders are affected directly by project outcomes. Each one has a unique perspective, valuable information and insight along the process flowchart. They will be designing and implementing the process or supervising those who do.

Consider those who will be indirectly affected by the project. The vendor supplying the new closures, as well as the customers who will be using the product, will have to adjust to the change. The marketing and sales teams must learn about the benefits of the new process and why the new closure is the best thing to hit the sliced bread market. Equipment manufacturers will have to adapt to the new manufacturing process in order to bid for new business.

Bring the project stakeholders together. Plan a meeting with a representative of all stakeholder groups to find out who is missing. There is usually someone key to the project that is not represented. They may have a perspective or information critical to identifying hidden roadblocks to the project’s success. Involving all stakeholders will give the project team a head start on achieving the project’s desired outcomes.

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