Here comes everybody: Reframing the stakeholder concept when just about everyone can become your stakeholder


Advances in Project Management

By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management
University of Hertfordshire

United Kingdom

One of the major transformations in the 5th edition of the PMI Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge published in 2013, was the addition of a tenth knowledge area dedicated to Project Stakeholders Management. Stakeholder management is not a new area for project managers, but the decision to elevate it to a fully-fledged knowledge area, sitting alongside the well-acknowledged fundamental areas required to achieve effective project management, such as time, scope, risk, quality, communications and integration management, represents a sort of coming of age. For indeed, stakeholder engagement or consideration is increasingly recognised as critical to the successful delivery of projects, and to the long term embedding of change.

The label ‘stakeholders’ applies to the individuals, groups, or even organisations, with an interest in a business, a project undertaking, an initiative, an intervention or a change effort. The interest typically relates to direct or indirect involvement in the work, in the decisions regarding the intervention or to being impacted by the outputs and outcomes of change initiatives and projects.

Projects and programmes will typically have a variety of stakeholders with different, and often conflicting, priorities, interests and values. Engaging with, and involving, the diverse groups of stakeholders is considered essential to the acceptance of the resulting artefacts and to the enduring success of any project or change initiative. The key lies in being able to identify the potential influences, positive and negative, that each stakeholder or stakeholder group wields and to endeavour to harness them to the good of the project.

The PMI Guide to the Body of Knowledge acknowledges that stakeholder management includes the processes required to identify the people, groups or organisations that could impact or be impacted by the project, to analyse stakeholder expectations and their impact on the project and to develop appropriate management strategies for effectively engaging stakeholders in project decisions and execution. Moreover, it asserts that “the ability of the project manager to correctly identify and manage these stakeholders in an appropriate manner can mean the difference between success and failure.”

The management of the different stakeholder groups draws on the ability of the manager to develop communication strategy that caters to the needs, expectations and potential influence of each of the groups in a way that engages, informs, neutralises concerns and encourages support. Above all, it requires timely communication about the potential impact of change and a commitment to both involve and support stakeholders.


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Editor’s note: The PMWJ Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK. Each month an introduction to the current article is provided by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM. Prof Dalcher’s article is an introduction to the invited paper this month in the PMWJ. Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement.



About the Author


pmwj35-Jun2015-Dalcher-PHOTODarren Dalcher, PhD

Series Editor

Director, National Centre for Project Management
University of Hertfordshire, UK

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Darren Dalcher, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK. He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management in 2008 and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London. Professor Dalcher has written over 150 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Software Process Improvement and Practice, an international journal focusing on capability, maturity, growth and improvement. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Gower Publishing of a new companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.

Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies in the UK and beyond. He is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Academy of Management, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He is a Member of the PMI Advisory Board responsible for the prestigious David I. Cleland project management award and of the APM Professional Development Board.

Prof Dalcher is an academic editorial advisor for the PM World Journal. He can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works by Prof Darren Dalcher, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/darren-dalcher/.