Identifying your stakeholders is critical to a successful project.

crowd-participating-at-event_4460x4460-150x150 Stakeholder Identification

Identify your stakeholders

Stakeholder identification may appear self-explanatory but when key groups are left out, projects can fail.  Identify your stakeholders early and capture their interests.


Using your project team to identify stakeholders for your project.  Don’t limit the stakeholders initially and challenge your team to be creative in the process.  Below are three proven techniques that help you identify all of the stakeholders.

crowd-participating-at-event_4460x4460-150x150 Stakeholder Identification

Brainstorm to identify

A common techniques is to give each member of your team a pad of sticky notes and give them a set amount of time to come up with as many stakeholders as they can.  Have everyone put on a board and you can group ones that are the same or similar.

A venn diagram depicts members related to other groups or members.  Venn diagrams allow visual representation of where sets overlap.  As you create each new circle, explore the possible intersections of other stakeholders with your team.

Mindmapping is a technique to visually show thoughts on paper.  Have each team member draw a mindmap of how they view they stakedholders and then create a team mindmap.

  • Venn Diagram
  • Brain Storming
  • Mindmapping

Capture the Details

Now that you have identified your stakeholders, you need to capture them with some details. Don’t spend too much time on analysis as this comes later, but high level concepts.

crowd-participating-at-event_4460x4460-150x150 Stakeholder Identification

Capture the details

Determine the level of the stakeholder, are they a primary stakeholder like the project sponsor.  A secondary stakeholder, like the zoning office where you plan to build your project?  Or a tertiary, but critical stakeholder, like the media?

Identify the key subgroups to larger groups.  Don’t simply say “University Students,” identify some the key groups like: Greek Organizations, Student Senate, Sports players, etc.

Details, include a few concerns for each stakeholder on why they may be for or against your project and any key concerns.

  • Levels: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary
  • Subgroups
  • Details

Why take the time?

Identifying stakeholders can be time consuming, but worth it to get it right.  In addition, this is chance to get to interact with your project team early and include them on the planning.  It is a great opportunity to see how they interact with each other as well.  Don’t forget that each of your team members are primary stakeholders.

The sooner you identify stakeholders the sooner you can develop a communication management plant to let them know about the project.  It is important to message some projects before the media and others can add their spin to your project.

crowd-participating-at-event_4460x4460-150x150 Stakeholder Identification

Stakeholders can break a project

Stuttgart 21 is a classic example of poor stakeholder identification. The expansion of the new rail station is over schedule, behind budget, and has been besieged by protests since the project concept phase.  The key stakeholders were not identified and communicated to effectively from the inception of the project.  Identify your stakeholders or your project could end up in the same place.

  • Reduces implementation failure
  • Allows people to adjust
  • Get to know your project team.

Life is a Project!

Stakeholder identification is the first step in stakeholder management.  If you don’t capture the key stakeholders, your entire communication management plan could be wrong.

Teaser: Coming soon – Stakeholder strategy

This video focuses on stakeholder identification for Project Managers: