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Should your project be stakeholder led?

There are three different types of projects that you might find yourself involved in as a project manager. The three types of project are:

·       Stakeholder neutral – the stakeholder is identified, and communication is in the normal way, their power and influence are not high. These are often IT projects, the resources often just “get on with it” and the stakeholder doesn’t need to be very involved.

·       Stakeholder sensitive – this type impacts on individuals and how they work, the stakeholder is more invested. There is much change management involved in this type of project and individuals can cause problems that result in the project failing. 

·       Stakeholder led – the stakeholder has a lot more influence and power over the project. This might be a business transformation project and will require a larger number of influential stakeholders. 

Putting your stakeholders into groups 

If you want to consider whether your project should be stakeholder led or not led by stakeholders it is worth considering everything that you have learnt during your APM PMQ courses. That is the fact that there are different types of stakeholders and when you are considering your project it is a good idea to look at the type of stakeholder you are actually talking about.

Role-based stakeholders

This group of stakeholders have power or influence within the project as a result of the expertise that they bring with them. When it comes to the actual work on the project, they will have real, identifiable responsibilities. 

Agenda-based stakeholders

Stakeholders in this group do not play a formal role on the project team. However, they can exert their influence on the project by being involved. 

What’s best for this project?

Whilst there is certainly a role on any type of project for either type of stakeholder, in general the more complex a project is then the more useful an agenda-based stakeholder will be. 

A stakeholder can be useful to any project, and they certainly have their own unique sets of skills, qualifications and experience that can be incredibly useful to the project as a whole. It is important however that the stakeholder knows their place on a project and does not try to get involved in those areas of the project where their expertise is perhaps not relevant. 

One thing you will learn during any courses for professional project managers is that no two projects will really ever be the same. Therefore, what works for one project will not necessarily work for another. That is to say that some projects may work very well from being stakeholder led whilst others will benefit far less. 

It is very important therefore to consider the type of stakeholder that you are considering and the expertise that they might bring with them to a project. Will it fill a gap in the expertise that the project team has that means they will have an active role on the project, or will they be more of an influence on the project without actually being involved?