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21/100 - From Identification to Engagement: Managing Stakeholders in Software Projects


Stakeholder identification and engagement are critical components of successful project management. In software projects, identifying all relevant stakeholders and effectively managing their engagement and expectations can greatly contribute to the project's success. The purpose of this blog is to provide a comprehensive guide to stakeholder identification and engagement in software projects, including best practices and practical tips for managing stakeholders effectively.


The importance of stakeholder identification lies in the fact that stakeholders have a vested interest in the project and can impact its outcome, either positively or negatively. Effective stakeholder engagement helps to manage their expectations, build trust, and ensure their support throughout the project. By understanding the importance of stakeholder identification and engagement and implementing best practices, project managers can increase the chances of project success and deliver value to all stakeholders.


In the previous blog we looked at 'Project Management Approaches & Project tailoring'. Let’s look at some of the key XP practices in this blog through the below topics:

Definition of a Stakeholder

A stakeholder is an individual or group of individuals who have a vested interest in a project or an organization. Stakeholders can impact or be impacted by the project and have a stake in its success or failure.

Stakeholder Identification


Stakeholder identification is the process of identifying and defining the individuals and groups who have an interest in or are affected by a project or organization. It is a critical step in stakeholder management as it enables organizations to understand the needs and expectations of different groups, and engage with them in a way that aligns with their interests and objectives.


Stakeholders can be divided into two categories: internal and external. Internal stakeholders are individuals or groups within the organization, such as employees, shareholders, and executives. External stakeholders are individuals or groups outside of the organization, such as customers, suppliers, and the community.


To effectively identify stakeholders, organizations can use the following steps:

  1. Conduct a stakeholder analysis: This involves evaluating the impact of the project or organization on different groups and individuals, and prioritizing stakeholders based on their level of interest and influence.

  2. Identify all potential stakeholders: This involves considering all individuals and groups who may be impacted by the project or organization, including those who may not have a direct relationship with it.

  3. Classify stakeholders: This involves categorizing stakeholders based on their level of interest, influence, and power, and determining their role in the project or organization.

  4. Map the stakeholders: This involves creating a visual representation of the relationships between different stakeholders, and identifying the most critical stakeholders for engagement.

  5. Engage with stakeholders: This involves communicating with stakeholders and actively involving them in the project or organization.

Organizations can also use tools such as stakeholder surveys, focus groups, and expert interviews to identify stakeholders and gather information about their interests, expectations, and concerns.


In conclusion, stakeholder identification is a crucial step in stakeholder management and is essential for the success of any project or organization. By effectively identifying and engaging with stakeholders, organizations can build trust, foster collaboration, and create buy-in for their initiatives.


A wonderful depiction of different types of stakeholders by Comic Agile.
A wonderful depiction of different types of stakeholders by Comic Agile.

Types of Stakeholders in Web3 or Blockchain Projects


In web3 or blockchain projects, there are several types of stakeholders, including:

  1. Developers: The developers and engineers who build and maintain the blockchain platform and applications.

  2. Investors: Investors who provide funding for the project, either through direct investments or by purchasing tokens.

  3. Users: End-users who interact with the blockchain platform or application and benefit from its services or features.

  4. Miners: Individuals or organizations who provide computational power to secure and validate transactions on the blockchain network.

  5. Token holders: Individuals who own and hold the native tokens of the blockchain platform or application.

  6. Regulators: Government agencies and regulatory bodies who oversee the blockchain industry and enforce laws and regulations.

  7. Service providers: Companies and organizations who provide services to the blockchain industry, such as exchanges, wallets, and security providers.

  8. Community members: Individuals who actively participate in and contribute to the development and growth of the blockchain platform or application through forums, social media, and other channels.


Stakeholder Engagement


Effective stakeholder engagement is crucial to the success of any software project. To engage stakeholders effectively, project managers can use a variety of approaches and techniques, including communication, collaboration, and consultation.


Communication

Clear and open communication with stakeholders is essential to building trust and ensuring their support. This can involve regular updates, progress reports, and one-on-one meetings to address any concerns or issues.


Collaboration

Collaboration with stakeholders can help to build a shared understanding of project goals and objectives, as well as foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among stakeholders. This can involve working together to define project requirements and resolve issues as they arise.


Consultation

Consultation with stakeholders can help to identify their needs and concerns and ensure that their views are taken into account in the project. This can involve conducting surveys, focus groups, or workshops to gather feedback and incorporate stakeholder perspectives into the project.


By using a combination of these strategies, project managers can effectively engage stakeholders, build trust, and ensure their support throughout the project. Effective stakeholder engagement can lead to increased project success, improved stakeholder satisfaction, and better outcomes for all stakeholders.


Stakeholder Engagement Best Practices


Stakeholder engagement is crucial for the success of web3 projects as it helps to build trust, foster collaboration, and create buy-in for the project. The following are some best practices for stakeholder engagement in software projects:

  • Clearly communicate the project's vision and goals: Ensure that stakeholders understand what the project aims to achieve and how it will benefit them.

  • Foster two-way communication: Encourage stakeholders to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns, and actively listen to their feedback.

  • Create a stakeholder engagement plan: Develop a plan that outlines the stakeholders to engage, the communication channels to use, and the frequency of engagement.

  • Use transparent and accessible channels: Utilize channels that are easily accessible to stakeholders, such as forums, social media, and email, to communicate with them.

  • Establish trust and credibility: Maintain transparency and accountability in all interactions with stakeholders, and be transparent about decision-making processes and potential risks.

  • Foster collaboration: Encourage stakeholders to work together and participate in co-creation, hackathons, and other collaborative activities.

  • Continuously evaluate and adjust the engagement plan: Regularly assess the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement and make adjustments as needed to ensure the best outcomes for the project and stakeholders.

Managing Stakeholder Expectations


Managing stakeholder expectations is an important aspect of stakeholder engagement in software projects. Failing to effectively manage stakeholder expectations can lead to frustration, disappointment, and a lack of support for the project. To avoid this, project managers must set clear goals and objectives, and maintain open and transparent communication with stakeholders.


Setting clear goals and objectives:

It's important to clearly articulate the project's goals and objectives to stakeholders and ensure that everyone has a shared understanding of what the project is trying to achieve. This helps to manage expectations and ensures that everyone is working towards the same end goal.


Maintaining open and transparent communication:

Clear and regular communication with stakeholders helps to build trust and ensures that everyone is kept informed about project progress and any changes. Project managers should be proactive in addressing any concerns or issues that stakeholders may have and ensuring that all relevant information is shared with stakeholders in a timely and transparent manner.


By managing stakeholder expectations effectively, project managers can increase stakeholder satisfaction and ensure their support throughout the project.


Issues due to Inadequate Stakeholder Engagement


It's important to understand the interests and motivations of each stakeholder group, as they can play a critical role in the success or failure of a blockchain project. Effective stakeholder engagement can help to build trust and foster collaboration between different stakeholders, leading to a more successful outcome for the project and its community.


Not identifying all stakeholders can lead to several issues, including

  • Lack of buy-in: Without knowing the needs and expectations of all stakeholders, it's difficult to gain their support and commitment to the project. This can lead to resistance and pushback, and ultimately, the project may fail to achieve its goals.

  • Missed opportunities: If some stakeholders are not identified, their interests and concerns may not be taken into consideration. This can result in missed opportunities for collaboration, partnerships, and innovations.

  • Inadequate representation: Failing to identify certain stakeholders can result in an unbalanced representation of interests, leading to a lack of fairness and impartiality in decision-making processes.

  • Legal and regulatory issues: Failing to identify and engage with relevant regulators and government agencies can result in legal and regulatory issues, such as fines and penalties.

  • Reputational risk: Not considering the interests of all stakeholders can lead to negative public perception and harm the reputation of the project or organization.

  • Conflicts: When different stakeholders have conflicting interests, it can be challenging to find a mutually beneficial solution. Without considering all stakeholders, conflicts may arise and harm the success of the project.

  • Therefore, it's essential to take the time to identify all stakeholders and engage with them effectively to minimize these risks and ensure the success of the project or organization.

Handling Difficult Stakeholders


Handling difficult stakeholders in software projects can be challenging, but it is essential for the success of the project. Here are some examples and practical tips for managing difficult stakeholders:

  1. Clearly define roles and responsibilities: It is essential to have a clear understanding of each stakeholder's role and responsibilities in the project. This can help to minimize misunderstandings and conflicts.

  2. Communication is key: Maintaining open and transparent communication with stakeholders is essential in managing difficult situations. Regular updates, scheduled meetings, and a clear reporting structure can help to keep everyone informed and on track.

  3. Listen to their concerns: Encourage stakeholders to voice their concerns and take their feedback seriously. This shows them that their opinions matter and helps to build trust.

  4. Set clear expectations: Clearly define and communicate project goals, timelines, and deliverables. This can help to manage expectations and prevent conflicts.

  5. Seek compromise: When conflicts arise, seek compromise and work together to find a solution that meets everyone's needs. This shows that you are willing to work together to find a solution and can help to build trust.

  6. Be proactive: Anticipate potential challenges and take proactive steps to mitigate them. This can help to prevent conflicts from arising in the first place.

  7. Stay professional: When dealing with difficult stakeholders, it's important to maintain a professional demeanor and avoid getting into personal or emotional arguments.

  8. Escalate when necessary: If conflicts cannot be resolved, it may be necessary to escalate the issue to a higher authority for resolution.

By following these tips, you can effectively manage difficult stakeholders in software projects and ensure the success of the project.


Stakeholder Management Frameworks


1. Power-Interest Grid

This framework classifies stakeholders into four categories based on their level of power and interest in the project: high power and high interest, high power and low interest, low power and high interest, and low power and low interest.


2. Stakeholder Circle

This framework defines stakeholders based on their proximity to the project and the level of impact they have. The closer they are to the project and the greater their impact, the higher their priority.


3. Salience Model

This framework classifies stakeholders based on three criteria: legitimacy, power, and urgency. This framework helps to prioritize stakeholder engagement based on the level of importance they hold.


4. RACI Model

The Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed (RACI) model is a matrix that defines the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in a project.


5. Stakeholder Management Plan


This is a formal document that outlines the stakeholders involved in a project, their roles and responsibilities, and the strategies for managing their engagement and expectations.


Organizations can choose the framework that best fits their needs and apply it to their projects to effectively manage stakeholders and ensure project success.


Conclusion

In conclusion, stakeholder identification and engagement are critical components of successful project management. By understanding the importance of stakeholder identification, engaging stakeholders effectively, and managing their expectations, project managers can increase the chances of project success and deliver value to all stakeholders.


Key takeaways from this blog include:

  1. Stakeholder identification is important because stakeholders have a vested interest in the project and can impact its outcome.

  2. Effective stakeholder engagement involves using a variety of approaches and techniques, including communication, collaboration, and consultation.

  3. Managing stakeholder expectations involves setting clear goals and objectives and maintaining open and transparent communication.

By following these best practices, project managers can ensure that all stakeholders are engaged, their expectations are managed, and the project is successful. Ultimately, stakeholder identification and engagement can contribute to project success by building trust, ensuring stakeholder support, and delivering value to all stakeholders.


Recommended Reading

  • Stakeholder Engagement key principles by APM.org

  • Stakeholder Analysis by PMI

  • A short video by Project Manager channel on how to handle difficult stakeholders.


Coming up in the next blog - 'Team formation & Types of teams'.

Note 1: This blog is part of a 100 Days of Learning Series on Web3 Project Management frameworks and best practices published on Program Strategy HQ. For more details on the 100 days of blogging campaign check out Blog 0.


Note 2: Reach out to info@programstrategyhq for any queries.


Note 3: Program Strategy HQ Disclaimer for Reference.


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