In the context just described, a stakeholder may be defined as any person, group, or organization who will be affected by, or have influence over, the proposed investment in change. Or, you could say: "Anyone who can throw a spanner in the works!" The typical list of stakeholders will include clients, customers, users, indeed, anyone who buy and/or receive products and services. Sometimes you may have to include customers' customers and even their customers. For example, a project to change Air Traffic Control systems and procedures should not only recognize the airlines as stakeholders, but also the airline's passengers, as well as the passengers' relatives and friends awaiting the plane's arrival.
One of the high-risk areas of business change is any stakeholder who has not bought into the change. Such people are often simply viewed as a problem. You should take the positive stance and see people as a major part of the solution. In most change initiatives benefits arise through the way people eventually behave differently:
- People communicate more effectively
- Staff take on new responsibilities
- Managers make better decisions
- Clients and customers produce more
- Suppliers deliver sooner
- And so on
The challenge is how to equip and motivate people to behave differently. This generally requires engaging and involving them, so that their ideas are heard and considered, and they buy in to the change. An enabler project may deliver a product but a business change has to deliver business benefits. Without buy in, business change is rarely successful.
Therefore, stakeholder involvement should cover all of:
- Creating the vision
- Agreeing the objectives
- Identifying the benefits
- Determining the dependencies between enablers and changes
- Selecting from solution options
- Acquiring the capabilities
- Implementing the changes
- And tracking the benefits
As you can see, this covers the whole life cycle of the portfolio.