My Project Management Expert

Who is a Stakeholder?

Many people ask "who is a stakeholder?" and "what do they do?". In Organisations this is particularly important because depending on the circumstances, stakeholders have a big role to play as well as a great deal of responsibility.

In answer to the first question of "who is a stakeholder?", well when the phrase was first defined in an internal memo at the Stanford Research Institute in 1963 it was described stakeholders as, "those groups without whose support the organizations would cease to exist".

Since then the term, of what is a stakeholder has been taken to mean someone who has an interest in a deliverable or outcome.

This therefore means that absolutely anyone in an Organisation could be construed as being a stakholder in certain circumstances. So assuming that an Organisation pays out an annual bonus to all it's employees based on productivity levels being met. All their employees, from the cleaning person to the CEO would be assumed to be stakeholders in ensuring the deliverable was met, so they could all attain the bonus offered.

In Organisations as a whole one could even construe external suppliers, unions and dependent companies as being stakeholders, since the more successful the Organisation is ie in meeting it's productivity target, the more they are also likely to benefit. Therefore as you can see the question of "who is a stakeholder" can be answered by saying, "well everyone".

Whilst this is a very generalist view, stakeholders can be further delineated by the activity they are involved in. This is covered off in further detail in types of stakeholders. Needless to say this site is most interested in project management stakeholders as these are the one's which most influence the outcome of a project delivery.

Who is a Stakeholder? - Tip

The term Stakeholder has gained more and more prominence as well as importance in the corporate world. Organisations are desperate for their employees and suppliers to perceive themselves as stakeholders in the enterprise, because this then means the venture has a much greater chance of being successful.

After all, would you take more care over a deliverable if you had a stake in it's success or if you were being paid, whether it was sucessful or not?

As this mentality increases, you will quickly realise that the phrase of stakeholder, has moved far beyond the remit of mere project management, and is now used in effectively managing project teams through to business teams. We are all now stakeholders, and as a result, now have a vested interest in seeing success being implemented.

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