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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Identifying Stakeholder Groups in Project, Program, and Portfolio Management

I am sure many recognize that there is a stakeholder register where important characteristics of stakeholders, such as the power, influence, interest, tolerance, threshold, engagement strategy, and communication preferences are captured. Sometimes, I find that both practitioners and students only identify individuals or external members identified. The concept of stakeholder groups, like the service operations, marketing, data analytics, are missed. 

But, why is stakeholder group important? Simply put, assigning stakeholders into groups helps them classify the optimal type of communication that can suit for a group of stakeholders. Additionally, such a stakeholder grouping can also help see patterns of relationships among the stakeholders within that group to engage these stakeholders within that group more effectively. This group's ability to influence can then be very effective for the alternative generation and problem-solving enabling the decision-making due to the power of the plurality. This powerful decision-making not only helps in project management but also in the strategic and operational governance at the program management and portfolio management.

So, stakeholders can also be grouped by other characteristics based on their ability to exercise such influence. Hence, to assess the influence within the stakeholder groups, some powerful questions to ask are: 

  1. Who are the types of members generally required for the governing body (or steering committee)? 
  2. What are the tolerance and threshold levels for the various stakeholders in the governance body towards specific decision-making criteria (like increasing revenues, reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction, accelerating cycle-time reduction, improving operational excellence, and augmenting knowledge retentions?)
  3. How frequently do people require information?
  4. Who are looking more quantitative metrics and who are looking for qualitative metrics? 
  5. Can stakeholders be categorized also as thought-leaders, early adopters, risk takers, change resistors, or comfort-zone-conservatives?  
While there may be other criteria based on the product or service the project delivers, outputs, outcomes, and benefits the program produces or the strategic value the portfolio generates, these starter questions make one think of the stakeholder groups differently so that one can come up with an effective communication plan to effectively manage the stakeholders.

Do you have any thoughts? Please feel free to share.


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