Project Stakeholders: Definition, Role & Identification

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  • 0:02 What Is a Project Stakeholder?
  • 0:46 Stakeholder Identification
  • 1:15 Stakeholder Characterization
  • 2:58 Stakeholder Management
  • 4:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mike Miller
In this lesson, we'll learn what a project stakeholder is and how to identify project stakeholders. We'll also review how to characterize stakeholders and create a plan to manage stakeholder engagement and communication.

What Is a Project Stakeholder?

According to the 2015 edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (also referred to as the PMBOK Guide), a project stakeholder is an individual, group, or organization that might affect, be affected by, or perceive itself as affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project. Stakeholders can be internal or external to the project or organization. Stakeholders also may exert influence on the project, project deliverables, or the team in order to satisfy their own agenda.

Now that we know what a project stakeholder is, let's discuss how we can identify a stakeholder. For this lesson, our example will be a house building project.

Stakeholder Identification

The first step in stakeholder identification is to think about who the team and customers are, as well as any other organizations that might be affected by the project, and create a list.

For our house project, the stakeholders would include the following:

  • The construction company (also known as the project team)
  • Subcontractors
  • The homeowner (or customer)
  • The bank (or financer)
  • The real estate agent
  • Attorneys
  • The city tax office
  • The city inspector, and
  • Neighbors

Stakeholder Characterization

Stakeholders can be characterized into three main groups. Primary stakeholders are those that stand to be directly affected, either positively or negatively, by the project, decisions, or actions of the project. Secondary stakeholders are those that are indirectly affected by the project, or decision, or actions of the project. The last group of stakeholders is key stakeholders. They can belong to either the primary or secondary stakeholder groups. The key stakeholders have an effect on the project as well as the project having an effect on them. In an organization, this might be the executive who sponsored the project. In our house building project, this might be the construction company, subcontractors, customer, bank, and city inspector.

To help determine which group to place a stakeholder in, a project manager will evaluate the stakeholder for needs and expectations. Each stakeholder would be evaluated for:

  • Objective: What are their desired results of the project?
  • Measures: How will this stakeholder validate that the objectives were met?
  • Impact: What changes could a stakeholder create for the project and how will the project impact the stakeholder?
  • Involvement: What role does the stakeholder have in the day-to-day activities for this project?

The project manager for our house building project has evaluated and characterized the identified stakeholders.

Primary Stakeholders Key Stakeholders
Construction company x
Subcontractors x
Homeowner x

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