This paper by R. Max Wideman was first published as part of Chapter 17 in A Field Guide to Project Management, 2nd Edition, edited by David I. Cleland and published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New Jersey, 2004.
The original paper has received minor updates and is published here August 2015.

Introduction | Who Are the Stakeholders? | Internal Projects
Hidden Stakeholders | Keeping Internal Stakeholders on Your Side
External Projects | How to Identify Public Stakeholders

Hidden Stakeholders

It is rare for a complete list of stakeholders to be identified at first pass. Unsuspected stakeholders have a habit of popping out of the woodwork at inconvenient times, often with very negative attitudes because they were somehow overlooked. A checklist of stakeholders of internal projects will typically include:

  • People recruited directly to work on the project team
  • People seconded to the project, full time or intermittently, who normally work for other departments
  • Managers of those other departments who will be contributing human resources or services to the project, sometimes reluctantly at first
  • People who represent other departments because the project will affect those departments. These people may be the users or operators
  • Representatives from other remote-location divisions, subsidiary companies or even overseas branches, who will be affected by the project or required to conform to it
  • Other project managers and their teams working on different projects within the organization but who may be competing for the same resources

In each case, it is the project manager's job to get these individuals enthusiastic about the project, and contributing their best. It is a question of motivation. The project manager can greatly improve working relationships with these stakeholders through several personal strategies. The following are some suggestions:

  • Invite people to join the project team, with the option of turning down the offer without fear of retribution. A person, who joins the team voluntarily, as a privilege or opportunity, will do so with a positive attitude and will offer his or her best.
  • Interview every team member, preferably individually, to ensure everyone's support for the project. If support is lacking, bring out and resolve obstructing issues.
  • Sell managers of the functional departments, who will be contributing people or services to the project, on the project importance and relative priority within the enterprise.
  • Have users form their own users' group, particularly if the users will be many and various. The group can then have a designated spokesperson formally representing them on the project team. This tactic may or may not be successful depending on the following:
    • The perception of isolation
    • The extended line of communication
    • The potential lack of discipline in conforming to the project timetable

This issue of discipline may require the intervention of the project sponsor. If other project managers are competing for the same resources, form a project managers' coordinating-committee. If this group is unable to agree, then call on the project sponsor to resolve the issue with senior management. While these recommendations require the project manager's personal and individual attention and can be very time-consuming, it is well worth the effort.

Internal Projects  Internal Projects

Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page