Stakeholders

Stakeholders Defined

In project management, you will hear the term “stakeholders.”  Stakeholders include more than the project team.  They include anyone impacted by the project either positively or negatively.  They also include anyone who can influence the project outcomes.  The following are some typical stakeholders on a project:

  • Project Sponsor – the individual sponsoring the project or the individual representing the group or organization sponsoring the project.  Project sponsors usually also provide funding for the project either directly or indirectly.  A project sponsor may or may not be a product owner (see below).  A project sponsor may or may not have a role on the project other than executive oversight.
  • Product Owner – usually the individual owning the product to be produced by the project. Here’s an example where the product owner could be different than the Project Sponsor:

The CIO has decided to sponsor a project which will provide a new automated Human Resource system.  In this case, the Human Resource department manager would serve as the Product owner but the CIO would serve as the project sponsor, providing resources and funding to deliver the project.

  • Customer – this type of stakeholder is the individual or group of individuals expected to use the product of the project.  A project can, of course, have multiple types of customers.  In the example of the project to provide a new automated Human Resource system, customers can include the employees, the Human resource department, the Accounting department, etc.
  • Client – a client is usually a formal customer.  The term “client” is often used when there is a contractual relationship between the organization delivering the project and the customer of the project.
  • Project Team – the project team members, or the individuals participating in the project in some capacity, are also stakeholders.
  • PMO – the PMO (Project Management Office), if one exists, will most likely be a stakeholder on projects.The list above is meant to serve as just a short list of typical stakeholders on a project.  Every organization may develop or has developed typical stakeholders for most projects and these, of course, can vary by type of project.  By the way, you may come across the term, “performing organization.”  The performing organization in project management speak is the organization performing the work of the project.  This could be an internal department, such as an IT department, or a third party, such as a consulting organization.  The performing organization is responsible for ensuring that the project meets or exceeds the expectations of the client or customer. 

Eddie Merla, PMI-ACP, PMP

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