Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Analyzing Stakeholder Interests

Stakeholder analysis is the process of discovering who has a stake in your project and identifying their interests. To perform stakeholder analysis, you must identify the stakeholders, their roles and primary interests in the project. Then you must analyze the relationships between stakeholders, looking to capitalize on similarities and resolving differences.
  • Step 1: Identify the stakeholders.
    Stakeholders can be internal or external. Internal stakeholders are the people directly involved in the functioning of your project. They include project managers, performing organizations, and project team members. External stakeholders are outside your organization. External stakeholders for your project may include sponsors, customers, suppliers, financial backers, special interest groups, the media and the public.
  • Step 2: Identify their roles.
    You can enhance the usefulness of your list of stakeholders by determining the role each stakeholder plays in your project. Stakeholders may manage the project, provide financial or human resources, or provide supplies. Viewing stakeholders within the context of their roles is necessary to accomplish the rest of your stakeholder analysis.
  • Step 3: Identify their primary interests.
    Once you know the roles of stakeholders, you can discover the interests they have. The interests of your stakeholders are the outcome of the roles they play in your project. The logical conclusion of what stakeholders do for your project is what they want from your project. It is important for you to know what they want from your project.
  • Step 4: Analyze the relationships between stakeholders.
    Evaluating conflicting project desires is part of the fourth step of a stakeholder analysis. Once you have listed the stakeholders, their roles and interests, you can analyze the relationship between all the diverse interests in your project.
To properly analyze your stakeholders, you need to ask yourself:
  1. How will each group respond to project decisions?
  2. What effect will their reactions have?
  3. How will their interaction with each other affect the project?
LUXX Corporation, an appliance manufacturer, is creating a new toaster for the market. Jodi is in charge of the project. She must determine how to prioritize the four departments' wishes, while demonstrating that she has taken everyone's requests into consideration. Jodi has identified the stakeholders and their competing interests in this project.

The research and development department wants more time to come up with the best toaster possible. It also wants to use its capabilities to the fullest by providing as many features as possible.

The marketing department wants to make this toaster attractive to the general public. This means promoting as many features as possible and having an early market release date, while keeping the price to a minimum.

The accounting department wants to keep costs low while charging the public as much as possible. It also wants this toaster to be on the market as soon as possible. Driving these desires is the interest in the margin of profit.

The quality assurance department wants a trouble-free toaster. The quality assurance department wants well-designed features, that work well, and plenty of time to complete proper testing procedures.

As you can see, many of these wishes conflict with one another.

The steps involved in stakeholder analysis are designed to reveal the conflicting interests among stakeholders so that these differences may be managed. Ultimately, stakeholder analysis helps you to gain the support of all your stakeholders and ensures that everyone involved in a project is directed toward the same project goals.

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