Stakeholder Kinds

Section Last Updated 17-Dec-2015 12:51

Stakeholder Groups
Figure 1 – The Project Delivery Group and Stakeholders

Standard RACI analysis1See e.g. Responsibility Assignment Matrixat Wikipedia, typically taken as an initialism of responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed, is harder than it first appears because the definitions of RACI are overly broad, ambiguous and overlapping.

Effective stakeholder analysis is an essential prerequisite of effective stakeholder relationship management2By which I do not mean that the stakeholders are necessarily managed (though some, such as members of the Contributory group, may be); management of the relationship means ensuring that the relationship fulfils its objectives. and lack of a coherent framework is therefore a problem.

The slackness of RACI definitions has led to alternative formulations of RACI – in which initial letters are preserved but the words themselves are replaced to “clarify” the nature of the roles, for example replacing accountable with approver, consulted with counsel etc. – and alternative approaches, such as PACSI, CAIRO, RAPID, etc.

All such approaches seem to be predicated on their naming rather than analysis of the issue and all generally suffer from the same weaknesses, and a stakeholder analysis needs to be precise if it is to allow the activity manager to identify the what and how of stakeholder management as well as the, theoretically simple, who.

Since effective stakeholder analysis is so important, a new3The approach outlined here is novel, but I believe it was inspired by related work whose authors and locations I can no longer recall. I would be pleased to acknowledge the work of others and to communicate with them; if you have any information on this please get in touch via Twitter or the contact page. approach is offered here, identifying seven distinct stakeholder groups with well-defined and non-overlapping roles, thereby facilitating the identification of distinct control and communication objectives according to the nature of the stakeholder group concerned.

However, since it does not readily admit a memorable acronym or initialism4Delivery, (Results) Exploitation & Support, Resourcing & Accountability, Review & Audit, Contributory, Collateral and Connected give DRES RA-RA C3, which has little to recommend it as an aide-memoire. based on its categories, it is best described as a Vampire analysis5From which we also obtain an idea of the ideal project manager as a protégé of (Abraham) Van Helsing, of whom it was said, “He is a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than any one else. He is a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind. This, with an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, these form his equipment for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views are as wide as his all-embracing sympathy. I tell you these facts that you may know why I have such confidence in him.” (Dracula, by Bram Stoker (1897), see Chapter 9.)  on the basis that each stakeholder receives a unique stake.

The following may be used to identify what kind of stakeholder particular individual or group may be, from which one may infer something about the nature of the relationships between the

Figure 1 depicts the Delivery Group (which actually creates outcomes) at the centre, surrounded by and those who have an interest in those outcomes or how they are to be delivered.

The following section summarises the nature of each group.

The Seven Stakeholder Groups

Group

Commentary

Delivery Group

The Delivery Group comprises those responsible for the project’s deliverables and outcomes, including members of the project team and third party suppliers.

Results Exploitation Group

Those who will use or be affected by the use of the project’s deliverables and outcomes and are responsible for achieving the business benefits anticipated by the project; those who exploit the direct results of the project for the benefit of the business.

The Results Exploitation Group include includes the Business Change Team, which is responsible for making the project’s deliverables and outcomes available to the business users and facilitating their use of them through support services, installation, training, etc.

This group is relatively uninterested in who is performing the work (except insofar as their identities need to be known for communication purposes) and is most interested in the content and utility of the deliverables and outcomes and their timing. Being part of the larger business, The Results Exploitation Group in general and the Business Change team in particular may be sources of valuable information for the project as it relates to changes in the needs for the project’s deliverables etc. in terms of both content and timing.

Results Support Group

Those responsible for ensuring that the project’s deliverables and outcomes are accessible to the Results Exploitation Group.

Resourcing & Accountability Group

Those who are accountable for the beneficial conclusion of the project and support or approve the allocation or release of funds or resources, including: senior (i.e. strategic) management (typically C-level or equivalent), project sponsors, other business managers and potentially third parties – in a commercial context creditors, investors and shareholders, in other contexts oversight or other official committees and bodies.

The Resourcing & Accountability group will take decisions on changes to the project that affect the realisation of the benefits it is intended to deliver.

Rather than two separate groups, Resourcing & Accountability together form a single group because those who are accountable for the outcomes of an activity are accountable for the net benefit it delivers, and it is assumed that with accountability comes authority, hence control over the allocation and use of resources, financial, material or other.

Contributory Group

Those who contribute effort, information or services for the benefit of the project and are distinguished from the Delivery Group by the nature of their involvement in the project and hence their commitment to it: contributors are primarily committed to fulfilling their specific obligations to the project and only secondarily concerned with the overall success of the project – which is the primary concern of the Delivery Group.

Review & Audit Group

Those with a mandate to examine the execution of a project and the quality, functionality, utility etc. of a project’s deliverables or outcomes to ensure that appropriate organisational standards are correctly applied. Review & Audit stakeholders are responsible for monitoring and ensuring that the project contributes appropriately to the organisation’s goals.

Collateral Stakeholders Group

In contrast to the Results Exploitation Group (whose members are affected by the use of the project’s deliverables and outcomes and are responsible for achieving business benefits), Collateral Stakeholders are affected but have independent objectives and interests.

Connected ProjectS Group

Other projects, internal or external, may affect project completion or success. Note that the Connected Project Stakeholder group is distinct from the Contributory Group in that there are no specific commitments from connected projects and the coordination of connected projects therefore relies on recognition of the value of the project and negotiation; connected projects may however be uncoordinated at the level of the project and dependencies are then managed by information provided to the Resourcing & Accountability Group.

Table 1- Descriptions of Stakeholder Groups

Figure 2 below summarises the relationships between the Delivery Group and other stakeholders in terms of information and control flows.

Stakeholder Analysis - Stakeholder Groups Relationships
Figure 2 – Control, Reporting & Information Flows between Stakeholder Groups

It shows, for example, that the Resourcing & Accountability and Review & Audit Groups exercise control over the delivery group and that the Delivery Group exercises control over Contributors.

The details of each group and their communication needs are given in the following sections. Throughout the following, Progress/Status updates or reports are distinguished as follows.

  • Progress updates/reports state what has been achieved, what proportion of required work has been performed etc, in absolute terms.
  • Status updates/reports apply values and criteria to the absolute measures of progress and other considerations; examples: “On time”, “Over budget”, “At severe risk”. They communicate the extent to which achievements are, or are expected to be, as desired or foreseen, e.g. whether the progress is behind, on, or ahead of schedule; whether performance, functional or quality criteria are being met, etc..

Groups, their Members and their Communication Requirements

The Delivery Group

The Delivery Group comprises those responsible for the project’s deliverables and outcomes, including members of the project team and third party suppliers.

The information packages defined to support the communications needs of this group are given below.

Members of the Delivery Group

Project Team, whether internal or external

The project team as a whole, and individual members need to know what they are doing, why they are doing it (both how their effort contributes directly to the deliverables and who depends, directly or indirectly, on their efforts), how they should approach their work, and when the results are required. Communications to and from the Delivery Group are primarily concerned with management of the process of creating the required deliverables by providing information for comparison with plans so that deviations can be corrected or – if beneficial – exploited.

Delivery Group Communication Requirements

Information Inputs & Outputs

From and to the Project or Programme Management Office, via Programme Management, the Project Manager and Team Leaders as appropriate, and – for external participants – others such as the (Client) Account Manager.

  • Context updates (e.g. changes to related milestones and other significant business changes)
  • Progress updates
  • Status updates
  • Team management updates (changes to team membership, allocated roles, contact information etc.)
  • Planning updates
  • Requirements updates
  • Risks (potential for issues)+ Mitigation/Avoidance Action
  • Opportunities (potential for boons)+ Augmentation/Targeting Action
  • Issues (unfortunate situations, risks potential fulfilled)+ Mitigation/Correction Action
  • Boons (fortunate situations, opportunity potential fulfilled) + Augmentation/Exploitation Action
  • Quality updates

Note: A boon – something extremely useful, helpful, or beneficial; a blessing or benefit – is the opposite of an issue; it is specifically included because one should seek to exploit unexpected opportunities and benefits as one seeks to diminish risks and issues.

The Results Exploitation Group

Those who will use or be affected by the use of the project’s deliverables and outcomes and are responsible for achieving the business benefits anticipated by the project; those who exploit the direct results of the project for the benefit of the business.

The Results Exploitation Group include includes the Business Change Team, which is responsible for making the project’s deliverables and outcomes available to the business users and facilitating their use of them through support services, installation, training, etc.

The Results Exploitation Group is relatively uninterested in who is performing the work (except insofar as their identities need to be known for communication purposes) and is most interested in the content and utility of the deliverables and outcomes and their timing. Being part of the larger business, The Results Exploitation Group in general and the Business Change team in particular may be sources of valuable information for the project as it relates to changes in the needs for the project’s deliverables etc. in terms of both content and timing.

The information packages defined to support the communications needs of this group are given below.

Members of the Results Exploitation Group

Business Users

Those primarily concerned with the utility (usability and derived value) of the project’s deliverables and outcomes and typically involved in activities such as:

  • Requirements definition
  • Design reviews
  • Prototype evaluation
  • Testing
  • Acceptance
  • Training

Business Change Team

Those directly responsible for introducing the project’s deliverables and outcomes to the Business Users and for realising the benefits associated with them. The Business Change Team needs to know what and how etc. the deliverables etc. are to be used and have sufficient knowledge of the business context to be able to integrate the use of the deliverables etc. into the organisation.

The Business Change Team should be involved in the same activities as the Business Users so that they share a common understanding, but the timing and content of communication on the common topics may be adjusted (the Business Change Team may need to know things before the Business Users).

In addition to sharing in the activities of the Business Users, the Business Change Team’s activities also include:

  • Context Assessment & Context Change (e.g. process change to accommodate project deliverables)
  • Training Development
  • Definition of Support requirements

External Users

External users may also exploit the project’s deliverables and outcomes directly – through, for example, direct access to business capabilities via e-business tools such as web portals or applications, or through dealings with business users.

External users should be consulted and informed to the extent that they are involved in the same activities as the internal, Business Users unless they have no formal role in acceptance.

For example, in an e-business application with web delivery an end user may be afforded an opportunity to purchase or apply for goods and services over the internet but, whilst customer focus groups may be involved in providing feedback on requirements and designs, the external users have no formal role in deciding the acceptability of the deliverable (they will simply either use or not use the application, to a greater or lesser extent, according to its acceptability in terms of the quality of the user experience or the utility of the capability).

If external users do not have a formal role in acceptance (and thus no formal role in the definition, design and implementation process that results in a delivery for acceptance) they should be considered Collateral Stakeholders as described.

Results Exploitation Group Communication Requirements

In order to plan for the exploitation of results, the group needs to know what will be delivered and when. This group is also expected to possess and develop information on the business context in which the results will be exploited, it may therefore notify the project of changes that are planned or have occurred when such changes might affect delivery timing, scope or content.

The Results Exploitation Group therefore both receives information from and provides information to the project as follows

Information Inputs
  • Progress updates
  • Status updates
  • Notifications of scope changes
  • Specification changes

Information Outputs
  • Progress updates
  • Context changes

The Results Support Group

Those responsible for ensuring that the project’s deliverables and outcomes are accessible to the Results Exploitation Group.

The information packages defined to support the communications needs of this group are given below.

Members of the Results Support Group

Service & Help Desk

Service and Help desk staff

  • Provide contact management services and are the source of valuable information on the frequency, kind and magnitude of user issues relating to the exploitation of project deliverables
  • Are the first point of contact for enquiries concerning the location and use of project deliverables
  • Collect information and feedback on the exploitation of project deliverables
  • Manage service escalation

Service and Help desks should be the first point of contact for enquiries concerning the location and use of project deliverables, and should therefore be equipped with reference material that will allow support to be provided without reference to project specialists. They must also be provided with procedures for determining when, how and where to escalate enquiries that they are unable to, or should not, deal with.

Technical Support

The technical support group is involved in the provision of infrastructure and deployment and administration of systems, applications and databases, and as such should be informed about and consulted as appropriate on the use of such systems. They are particularly involved in

  • Installing and configuring applications and databases
  • Delivering and maintaining connectivity
  • Ensuring infrastructure performance & levels of service

Results Support Group Communication Requirements

Information Inputs
  • Well maintained information of on the location and basic use of project deliverables
  • Notification of changes to the specifications for deliverables with direct impact
  • Well maintained information on delivery schedules
  • Enquiry handling procedures and escalation criteria
  • Procedures and parameters for deployment and configuration of technical elements of project deliverables

Information Outputs
  • Reports on user issues and their resolution as individual records (where detail is required in support of e.g. required amendments as additions, corrections or deletions reference material or procedures) and as summary reports addressing the quantity, frequency and severity of user incidents
  • User feedback on project deliverables, such as suggestions for further development or corrective action required
  • Changes to infrastructure and supporting services that may impact the use of project deliverables
  • Advice on deployment or configuration changes to maintain usability of deliverables affected by external technical changes

The Resourcing & Accountability Group

Those who are accountable for the beneficial conclusion of the project and support or approve the allocation or release of funds or resources, including: senior (i.e. strategic) management (typically C-level or equivalent), project sponsors, other business managers and potentially third parties – in a commercial context creditors, investors and shareholders, in other contexts oversight or other official committees and bodies.

The Resourcing & Accountability group will take decisions on changes to the project that affect the realisation of the benefits it is intended to deliver.

The information packages defined to support the communications needs of this group are given below.

Members of the Resourcing & Accountability Group

Senior (Strategic) Management, Shareholders and Oversight Bodies

Assuming that an initial business case for the project has been made and approved on the basis of the business needs to be addressed (described in terms of their kind, magnitude & timing), the benefits anticipated (expressed in the same terms), and the cost & duration of the project, what Senior Management and others want to know is whether there is any significant change in these factors as the project progresses and new insight is developed.

Project Sponsor

The Project Sponsor is the person or group who garners support for a project, requests approval for it and ultimately provides the resources required by allocating a budget and releasing funds. The sponsor commends the planned strategic outcome that the project is expected to deliver. The project sponsor therefore requires early notification of threats and opportunities that may affect the viability or strategic impact of the project or affect the funding or resource requirements, in magnitude or timing.

Resourcing & Accountability Group Communication Requirements

The Resourcing & Accountability group is interested in anything that may affect the net worth of a project so that they may authorise and provide resources commensurate with the benefits expected (which includes providing none, i.e. cancelling the project, if the net worth of the project falls below some specified investment threshold). However, the interest of the group is primarily on the consequences of change, and so, whilst supporting information to substantiate project valuation is required in the interests of transparency, the focus of communications with this group is on maintaining confidence in the achievability of the project goals.

As such, this group needs to receive:

Information Inputs
  • The impact on the project of changes to business needs in terms of the kind, magnitude and timing of the business need and the nature of the change drivers
  • Changes to benefits anticipated in satisfying changing needs, expressed in the same terms
  • Requests for changes to project scope, goals, deliverables & outcomes on the basis of assessments of the impact of such changes
  • Substantiated requests to approve deviations from organisational policies or standards

Information Outputs
  • Approvals and disapprovals of change requests
  • Direction and advice on scope, goals, deliverables & outcomes
  • Resource availability and allocation
  • Direction on organisational strategy and policy

The Contributory Group

Those who contribute effort, information or services for the benefit of the project and are distinguished from the Delivery Group by the nature of their involvement in the project and hence their commitment to it: contributors are primarily committed to fulfilling their specific obligations to the project and only secondarily concerned with the overall success of the project – which is the primary concern of the Delivery Group.

The information packages defined to support the communications needs of this group are given below.

Members of the Contributory Group

Service Groups

Such as legal services, finance, procurement including vendor management, staff development & training and Human resources generally who need to know key dates and the project’s service requirements.

External Contributors

Those who provide – on an ad hoc or retained (e.g. outsourced) basis – specialised services, goods or products relied on by the project. These specialised services may be of the same kind as those otherwise provided in-house or particular to the projects specific needs, such as for product installation, configuration, or training. External Contributors are distinguished from external members of the Delivery Group in that they typically do not know the how or the why of their contribution; external contributors simply need to know the projects plans and changes to those plans for calling on them.

Contributory Group Communication Requirements

Information Inputs
  • Specifications and changes to specifications of contributions required, with measures of performance (including quality criteria) and performance dates
  • Information on mandates and authorities

Information Outputs
  • Progress & Status reports
  • Commitments to performance
  • Requests for variation to previously agreed commitments

The Review & Audit Group

Those with a mandate to examine the execution of a project and the quality, functionality, utility etc. of a project’s deliverables or outcomes to ensure that appropriate organisational standards are correctly applied. Review & Audit stakeholders are responsible for monitoring and ensuring that the project contributes appropriately to the organisation’s goals.

The information packages defined to support the communications needs of this group are given below.

Members of the Review & Audit Group

Architecture & Technical Reviewers

Those who are concerned with the consistency of a project’s approach to its deliverables and outcomes with the organisation’s strategic technology approaches, particularly in respect of the specific technologies employed and the consistency and quality of the solution architecture; these reviewers may need to be satisfied that deviations from organisational standards are warranted.

Project Management Office

The Project Management Office is responsible for establishing and propagating project management principles and guidelines and for establishing compliance with them by monitoring the progress and status of a project. As such the information needs of the PMO may be very similar to those of the Project Team of the Delivery Group.

To the extent that the Project Management Office is also responsible for monitoring benefits realisation and strategic alignment

Quality Assurance & Control

NB Quality Assurance establishes procedures & processes for managing deliverable quality; the Quality Control function applies them and determines whether the required quality has been or is likely to be achieved.

Auditors

Those mandated to formally establish compliance by the project of the organisation’s or external norms for management, quality, and financial, contractual and general propriety.

Regulatory Authorities

Such authorities may not audit, but are notable for their powers to permit or forbid certain things, which may be significant for the execution of the project. Regulatory issues, necessarily involving as they do the slow operations of the machinery of state, may need to be anticipated well in advance if they are to be dealt with successfully.

Review & Audit Group Communication Requirements

Information Inputs
  • Progress
  • Status
  • Planning updates
  • Risks + Mitigation/Avoidance Action
  • Opportunities + Augmentation/Targeting Action
  • Issues (unfortunate situations)+ Mitigation/Correction Action
  • Boons (fortunate situations) + Augmentation/Exploitation Action
  • Statements of governance instruments applied and procedures for ensuring compliance
  • Quality Plan
  • Test Procedures
  • Requirements updates
  • Design updates
  • Benefits realisation progress
  • Demonstration of strategic alignment

Information Outputs
  • Direction and advice on the selection and application of governance instruments (standards, policies etc.) with which the project is expected or required to comply
  • Direction and advice on maintaining and improving compliance
  • Direction and advice on dealing with non-compliance

The Collateral Stakeholders Group

In contrast to the Results Exploitation Group, who respond directly to the project’s deliverables and outcomes, using them to achieve business benefits (i.e. for the fulfilment of project goals), Collateral Stakeholders respond indirectly to its deliverables and outcomes; members of the collateral stakeholders groups may share objectives and interests with the project, but they also have independent objectives and interests, which may conflict with those of the project.

The information packages defined to support the communications needs of this group are given below.

Members of the Collateral Stakeholder Group

General & Business Public, Press & Media

Insofar as the organisation operates in an economic context, its actions and the consequences of its projects have effects beyond its boundaries, and even if those consequences are largely limited to those with whom it has previously had dealings there are likely to be many more of similar kinds who will be affected if and when they choose to deal with the organisation. The greater the impact of a project in strategic or operational terms the more likely it is that there will be value in identifying the specific communications needs of the outside world.

Staff Organisations

Staff organisations may be involved according to the impact of a project’s deliverables and outcomes as they affect the working conditions, rewards, remuneration or recognition of staff incidentally to the exploitation of the projects deliverables etc. for the benefit of the business.

Competitors and Collaborators

Collateral Stakeholders may include competitors (who may be interested but should not be provided certain information, leading to Non-disclosure and other confidentiality measures being applied to secure project information) and collaborators with whom there may be formal or informal agreements concerning the exchange of information.

Others

As noted, there may be external users of project deliverables who are not formally engaged in the definition, design, implementation and acceptance process. Despite their lack of formal involvement, such users should be considered in communications planning as members of the Collateral Stakeholders Group to the extent that the quality of the deliverables in the eyes of these users may affect the realisation of strategic organisational goals.

Collateral Stakeholders Group Communication Requirements

The communication requirements of those least explicitly interested in a particular project are the hardest to define and will be highly dependent on the specific nature of the project and its deliverables.

Information Inputs (illustrative)
  • Customer satisfaction surveys requests (external users)
  • Impact assessments
  • Consultation requests
  • Disruptive communications (targeting competitors)
  • Announcements of organisational & strategic changes (to collaborators)

Information Outputs (illustrative)
  • Reponses to customer satisfaction surveys (external users)
  • Disruptive communications (from competitors)
  • Announcements of organisational & strategic changes (competitors, collaborators)

The Connected Projects Group

Other projects, internal or external, may affect project completion or success. Note that the Connected Project Stakeholder group is distinct from the Contributory Group in that there are no specific commitments from connected projects and the coordination of connected projects therefore relies on recognition of the value of the project and negotiation; connected projects may however be uncoordinated at the level of the project and dependencies are then managed by information provided to the Resourcing & Accountability group.

The information packages defined to support the communications needs of this group are given below.

Members of the Connected Projects Group

Other Projects’, Programmes’ and Portfolios’ Managers and Team members

Projects may be managed collectively in furtherance of organisational objectives and prioritised by their relative merits in terms of resources required (cost, time) and benefits sought (value, time), reflecting the idea that project portfolio management relates to “doing the right projects” whereas project management relates to executing each project correctly.

Connected Projects Group Communication Requirements

Information Inputs & Outputs
  • Status of and changes to dependencies in terms of expectations for delivery and receipt or the occurrence of recognised outcomes and specifications of the dependencies.

Notes   [ + ]

1.See e.g. Responsibility Assignment Matrixat Wikipedia
2.By which I do not mean that the stakeholders are necessarily managed (though some, such as members of the Contributory group, may be); management of the relationship means ensuring that the relationship fulfils its objectives.
3.The approach outlined here is novel, but I believe it was inspired by related work whose authors and locations I can no longer recall. I would be pleased to acknowledge the work of others and to communicate with them; if you have any information on this please get in touch via Twitter or the contact page.
4.Delivery, (Results) Exploitation & Support, Resourcing & Accountability, Review & Audit, Contributory, Collateral and Connected give DRES RA-RA C3, which has little to recommend it as an aide-memoire.
5.From which we also obtain an idea of the ideal project manager as a protégé of (Abraham) Van Helsing, of whom it was said, “He is a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than any one else. He is a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind. This, with an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, these form his equipment for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views are as wide as his all-embracing sympathy. I tell you these facts that you may know why I have such confidence in him.” (Dracula, by Bram Stoker (1897), see Chapter 9.)

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