Who holds the stake?

On any project, it is important to understand who the stakeholders are, what the nature of their stake is and what effect they are likely to have on the project.

No, not this kind of stake holder.

No, not this kind of stake holder.

And by “stakeholder“, of course, I don’t mean Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

A stakeholder is anyone who has a vested interest in the project, can be affected by the change initiative that the project represents or has the power to influence the project. Don’t assume this just means the project sponsor. Think of the nature of your project. Now think of all the people who have an interest in its outcome. How many could you think of? Click on “Continue reading” below to see a sample list. Did you think of those? Did you think of any others?

Unless you are in a role that requires you just to get your head down and get on with your specific piece of work, you need to be familiar with the project stakeholders. Stakeholder management is ultimately the project manager’s responsibility, but the PM’s success in this task depends on everyone else’s getting it right too. The PM should have made sure a stakeholder analysis was done at the start of the project. If you feel you are going to be involved with the stakeholders, make sure you understand what is expected of you when it comes to stakeholder management.

Don’t assume that all stakeholders want to see the project succeed. Perhaps a team leader has to provide key information but success will mean his team is no longer needed. You might need to interview employees in order to understand the business model but those employees don’t want the model to change because they are comfortable with the way things are. It could be that radical changes have been dictated by the CEO of a company in too short a time, leaving fearful department heads under unreasonable pressure to come up with a new business model.


  • Failure to understand the stakeholders can kill a project.
  • Stakeholder management is the project manager’s responsibility but it’s everyone’s job.

Kind regards,

Declan Chellar

Possible stakeholders:

  • Owners (e.g., individual, shareholders, even the public)
  • Partners (e.g., other companies providing related services)
  • Department heads
  • Managers
  • Staff
  • Regulatory bodies
  • Suppliers
  • Customers
  • Competitors

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