Do you really know all the stakeholders in your project?

Does a project seem to come to an unwanted halt? Your engineer’s access to the customer’s systems gets revoked.  The Project itself seems to slow down and communication and decisions start to take ages? Then it might be a good moment to reevaluate your stakeholder register in this particular project.

Your stakeholder register should consist at least of these columns: 

  • Name
  • Title
  • Influence
  • Power 
  • Potential for conflict
  • reporting to
  • Obvious interests 
  • assumed interests

While it might seem odd resetting your stakeholder register in a running project, it can the key to identifying possible human blockers for the success of your project. Especially in longer running projects, you will see changes in your project teams. Interests move. Some stakeholders might get promoted, others will leave the project. Managing your stakeholders is then key to a successful project. 

Hidden Stakeholders

In a long-running project, you might come across these gems of stakeholders. You might have the feeling of being up against a brick wall all of a sudden in a project and you don’t really know why. Then you should update your stakeholder register and make sure that you identify all of the stakeholders. Most certain you will identify new players, that weren’t present before. These Hidden Stakeholders can be very powerful. As they are not directly visible to you, escalating might just as well have no impact at all.

Assume the best:

Hidden stakeholders cast a shadow on the project and sabotage all efforts? How frustrating! Most likely,  they won’t do that on purpose. They just have other priorities that they put over your project. The only thing you can do is to identify these persons. When you update your stakeholder register, maybe together with other stakeholders, you might be able to identify new players in your project. Once you identified them, or organizational subsets, you will be able to escalate your project needs to the right panels and persons. Always assume good intentions and you will be better off in the communications with your newly identified stakeholders. 

What is your take on Hidden Stakeholders? What are your ideas to track down hidden stakeholders? 


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