Stakeholder influence is the amount of power and control stakeholders can exert over a project. It is determined by the stakeholder's ability to influence decisions, resources, and direction of the project. It is based on the stakeholder's knowledge, resources, interests, and authority. Influence is not static, as it can change over time depending on the dynamics of the project. As such, it is important for project managers to consider the potential influence of stakeholders and develop strategies to manage their involvement accordingly.
Example of stakeholders influence
- In a construction project, the contractor might have more influence than the architect, who in turn might have more influence than the city officials who must approve the design.
- In a software development project, the developers may have more influence than the end-users, who in turn may have more influence than the IT department who is responsible for procuring the new system.
- In a research project, the researchers may have more influence than the funders, who in turn may have more influence than the government agencies who oversee the project.
- In a political campaign, the candidates may have more influence than their advisors, who in turn may have more influence than the media outlets who are covering the race.
- In a business venture, the owners may have more influence than the investors, who in turn may have more influence than the customers who will ultimately decide the fate of the product.
Best practices of stakeholders influence
- Establish Clear Goals and Objectives: The first step in managing stakeholders’ influence is to clearly define the goals and objectives of the project. This should include the timeline, budget, and any other key performance indicators. Doing so will help project managers communicate their expectations to stakeholders and identify areas of agreement and disagreement.
- Identify Stakeholders: Once the project goals and objectives are established, stakeholders should be identified and their roles and responsibilities should be defined. This will help project managers understand the level of influence each stakeholder has in relation to the project.
- Assess Stakeholder Influence: Once stakeholders have been identified, project managers should assess the level of influence each stakeholder has on the project. This should include their ability to influence decisions, resources, and direction of the project.
- Develop a Stakeholder Engagement Plan: Once the level of influence of each stakeholder has been determined, project managers should develop a plan to engage with stakeholders. This should include communication strategies, meetings, and other means of engagement.
- Monitor and Adjust as Needed: Finally, project managers should regularly monitor stakeholder engagement and adjust the plan as needed. This will help ensure that stakeholders remain engaged and that their influence is being managed effectively.
Types of stakeholders influence
Stakeholder influence can take on many forms, and the type of influence a stakeholder has is often determined by their relationship to the project, their expertise, and their resources. The following are some of the primary types of influence stakeholders can have on a project:
- Positive Influence: Stakeholders who possess resources, knowledge, and authority can have a positive influence on a project. They can provide valuable advice and direction, help secure funding, and ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.
- Negative Influence: Stakeholders who are opposed to the project or have conflicting goals can have a negative influence. They can be disruptive and can delay progress, resulting in project delays and cost overruns.
- Indirect Influence: Stakeholders who are not directly involved in the project but have an interest in its outcome can also have an influence. They can provide valuable feedback and insight, or help to raise awareness of the project and its benefits.
- Political Influence: Stakeholders with a vested interest in the project may attempt to influence decision-making in order to realize a desired outcome. They may attempt to manipulate the process to their advantage by using their power and authority to sway decisions.
- Economic Influence: Stakeholders with financial resources can have a powerful influence on a project. They can make or break a project by deciding whether or not to invest in it and how much to invest.
Advantages of stakeholders influence
Stakeholder influence can be an effective tool for project managers to ensure that projects are successful. The advantages of stakeholder influence include:
- Higher levels of engagement and collaboration, as stakeholders can provide valuable input and insights into the project.
- Increased trust between stakeholders and project managers, as stakeholders can help identify potential issues and risks.
- Increased accountability from stakeholders, as they are more likely to be held accountable for their actions when they are involved in the decision-making process.
- Greater understanding of the project and its components, as stakeholders can help identify potential problems and offer solutions.
- Improved communication between stakeholders and project managers, as stakeholders can provide feedback and insights about the project.
- Increased commitment from stakeholders, as they are more likely to support the project if they feel their opinions are considered and valued.
Limitations of stakeholders influence
Stakeholder influence is an important factor to consider when planning and managing a project, however it is not without limitations. Below are some of the key limitations of stakeholders influence:
- Limited resources: Stakeholders may not have the necessary resources or knowledge to effectively influence the project.
- Time constraints: As stakeholders may have limited time, they may not be able to dedicate enough time to the project to have an appropriate level of influence.
- Limited authority: Stakeholders may not have the authority to make decisions or take action on certain elements of the project.
- Lack of expertise: Stakeholders may not have the necessary expertise or experience to provide useful input and guidance.
- Lack of interest: Stakeholders may not be actively engaged in the project and may not have any interest in its success.
- Poor communication: Poor communication between stakeholders can lead to misunderstandings, disagreements, and ultimately, a lack of influence on the project overall.
|Stakeholders influence — recommended articles
|Primary and secondary stakeholder — Role of stakeholder — Project sponsor role — Successful project manager — Outcome of the project — Project management environment — Integrated project management — Accountability and transparency — Governance of project management
- Spitzeck, H., & Hansen, E. G. (2010). Stakeholder governance: how stakeholders influence corporate decision making. Corporate Governance: The international journal of business in society, 10(4), 378-391.
- Prell, C., Hubacek, K., Quinn, C., & Reed, M. (2008). ‘Who’s in the network?’When stakeholders influence data analysis. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 21, 443-458.