Gain Perspective: Identify Project Stakeholders (Project Manager and Team)

Stakeholder roles: Project Manager

What does a project manager contribute to the project? Magic, or, more precisely, practical magic. Just as a symphony conductor directs the orchestra to bring out the magic in the music, the project manager must keep all the disparate groups in a project moving in harmony.

Whether he or she is planning the project, identifying the stakeholders, watching for cost overruns, or refereeing disputes, the project manager has the primary role in any project. And, while balancing all the various tasks can make project managers appear like magicians, the skills that form the basis of this magic can be learned.

Because we have covered the PM in other articles we will focus here mostly on the contribution project managers make to projects. Once selected, the project manager should clearly identify the stakeholder roles on the project, including his or her own.

The project manager must ask questions like:

  • What is my authority?
  • Who do I report to?
  • Does this mean I’ll be relieved of other responsibilities?
  • What are my expectations?

If you are a project manager, you are an important stakeholder, too. Don’t forget to satisfy yourself!

Stakeholder roles: Project Team

Who will do the work? The answer is the project team, in tandem with the project manager. All groups and individuals who contribute time, skills, and effort to the project are considered team members. In addition to the people from the company assigned to the project, these can include contractors, vendors, and even customers.

The concept of customers as team members might seem confusing because they are the ones being served by the project. But it is not unusual for customers to have specific project tasks to perform.

For example, on information systems projects, customers are often active participants in the system definition and design phases.

Or, when the project involves switching to a new office complex, the customer might take responsibility for organizing the training associated with operating the new facility.

Determining who will be part of the team happens at the start of the project, during definition and planning. This process is complete when the team members have agreed to their responsibilities and roles on the project.

Let’s look at the steps in this process, from start to finish:

  • Tasks are broken down until the different skill requirements emerge.
  • The project manager and sponsor then begin recruiting people and organizations with the necessary skills.
  • The project manager negotiates the involvement of these new team members.
  • The manager clarifies the plan and ensures that all members understand it.
  • Team member responsibilities are documented both in the statement of work and the project plan.

It’s often easy to identify the essential players on small projects, but much more difficult and time-consuming on large projects. But this time is well spent because the makeup of the project team is critical to project success.

Keep Team Members with Minor Roles Informed

Many team members play essential, but minor, roles. You, as manager, will need to distinguish between these part-time or temporary members and the core team, because communication strategies will be different for each.

For example, people from another department may contribute less than 10 percent of the effort to your project and be involved for only a few weeks.

You will to communicate any progress related to their work before they actually got involved, but they won’t need to participate in every weekly status meeting. In addition, some people with very specialized skills may make a very limited, but essential, contribution to your project.

You will not only want to keep them aware of progress related to their tasks, but you will have to consult with them concerning their availability to your project.

Follow this link to go to the main article of the series on project stakeholders.

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