To stimulate your stakeholder identification process, here are a few different categories where powerful people could be hiding, waiting for you to engage with them!
Perhaps a little obvious, but think carefully about this. Who is going to be using the result of your hard work? If you’re implementing a new system, the people who will actually be using it are your end customers. They may be impactful themselves, but certainly their bosses will be able to make more of an impact on what you are doing. Similarly, if you’re launching a new product, don’t forget the people who will actually buy it at the end of the day. Often forgotten with internal projects, but with the rising power of social media their voice may be able to make more of an impact on your project.
Again, a little obvious; however, less obvious are the bosses of the bosses; other senior level people elsewhere in the organisation who may be only indirectly connected with your project, but nevertheless could create quite an impact if they chose to.
These are the people who are doing the actual work within your project. They could be working directly for you, or they could be reporting to another stakeholder. The main thing is that these are the people with whom you are perhaps in most frequent contact, and naturally they can have an impact on what is going on. One caution is that it is easy to overestimate the level of impact they could have on the successful achievement of your goal. Of course, they could refuse to work – but the risk that poses is probably small and the solution is likely to be a relatively easy one, unless they also fall into one of the other categories!
These are usually very important people who sit alongside your project advising on all manner of things, such as legal, technical, etc. They could be very important, particularly if they are well thought of throughout the organisation. Sometimes, their advice to the board could kill your project.
Here I am referring to the people who provide their labour, skill or service to help you deliver your project. They are generally outside of the organisation, yet can exert high levels of influence. Consultancy firms sit in this camp and their access to senior levels in your organisation make them very important stakeholders!
Movers and Shakers
You may think that this category is a bit of a wild card, but it is important to consider who these people are. They are the rising stars, the people whose power is rising along with their grade. These could be very important in helping you to really start to move fast. If they can be engaged, can see benefit in what you are doing, then they may be interested in getting involved. That they may also be interested in taking all the glory is also a consideration!
In addition to all of the other categories, there are a whole host of other people who could be affected by what you are aiming to achieve. It is from this group that you need to be ready for the “curved balls” and also where you can build powerful alliances. For example…
- Whose job will change as a result of your success?
- Who will not get the budget they were hoping for?
- Whose job will become more difficult?
- Will your success set a precedent which will make it easier (or harder) for others to follow?
- Who could be jealous of your success?
- Whose power will be disrupted because of the changes you are introducing?