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What Are Stakeholders – How To Identify Them?

  • PMP®
  • Project Stakeholder Management
Created on :
April 6, 2014
Saket Bansal
Updated on :
November 15, 2022

Identify Stakeholders is the second process of Initiating process group processes and plays a crucial role from PMP® exam point of view. Identifying stakeholders is also important to make the real life projects successful. Usually, a good number of projects go through a lot of rework due to the gap in identifying the right stakeholders for the project right at the onset of the project lifecycle.

If we miss identifying the stakeholders we miss capturing their needs while collecting requirement and at a later stage when we realized our mistake it generates in rework since their needs may bring change on already based lined scope.

Now, first and foremost, it is essential to understand, who are these Stakeholders?

Based on PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition 

An individual, group, or organization who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or result of a project.

I frequently get two principal questions on this definition of stakeholders

  1. Is the project team part of it?
  2. Do I need to recognize my competitors as stakeholders? Since they may get negatively affected by my project.

The answer to the first question is ‘YES,’  project team is part of it, generally when we talk about the project team, we specifically mention it as the project team while when we discuss external people or group we use term stakeholder, but stakeholder is a broad category and it includes project team too.

The answer to the point 2 is controversial, many consider the competitors as a part of negative stakeholders, but I believe we should not be managing competitors as stakeholders, in case we see that the competitors can impact us negatively, I would recommend logging a risk for this and manage it upfront. When we talk about stakeholder, it becomes part of the stakeholder management plan, and we communicate and engage the stakeholders as per this plan.  Keeping competitors in stakeholder management plan can bring some practical challenges in stakeholder communications management.

The PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition process which elaborates the process of identifying stakeholder is “identify stakeholders” and based on PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition

The process of identifying the people, groups, or organizations that could impact or be impacted by a decision, activity, or result of the project; and analyzing and documenting relevant information regarding their interests, involvement, interdependencies, influence, and potential impact on project success.

In a simple sense, it’s like making lists of project stakeholders and analyzing their interest, influence, involvement in the project, and once done with the analysis, we document this assessment in a list which is called stakeholder register.

There are many stakeholder analysis models, the base of all models is ranking individual stakeholder on various parameters which can help is in ranking the positive or negative affect the given stakeholder make on the project. In a project, you may have a long list of stakeholders in the project and project manager cannot manage all of them closely so he needs some ranking model which helps in deciding which group of stakeholders he should manage closely and which is the one where he can just keep them informed.

When I ask PMP® certification aspirants, when to identify stakeholders? The usual reaction is in the beginning of the project, and this reaction is understandable since identify stakeholders is an initiating process group process. Here, what we need to keep in mind is that the initiating process group process is not expected to get executed only once, it is expected to get performed at the beginning of each phase, when you are starting deployment phase of your project you may identify new stakeholders for this new phase.

On updating stakeholder register PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition

The stakeholder register should be consulted and updated on a regular basis, as stakeholders may vary—or new ones identified—throughout the life cycle of the project.


I hope this blog has sufficiently answered your all queries related to who are Stakeholders, how to identify them and how crucial their role is in the project management process. Good Luck with your PMP® Certification Exam.

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You may also like to watch a video presentation of the Google Hangout I conducted on Identify Stakeholders

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