Within PRINCE2, there are four levels of management. At the highest level there is corporate, programme management or the customer. Below this are the three levels within a typical PRINCE2 project.
These start at the directing level for the project board, then the managing level which is the project manager, and then the delivering level which is the specialist team usually working under a team manager.
But there will be a wider range of stakeholders who may affect, or be affected by, the project.
The stakeholders may be internal or external to the corporate, programme management or customer organization.
The stakeholders may support or oppose the project, they may gain or lose because of project delivery, see the project as a threat or an enhancement to their position, and may be active supporters or blockers of the project and its progress.
It is important to analyze who these stakeholders are and to engage with them appropriately.
Stakeholders may come from a variety of sources as the diagram below shows:
Stakeholder engagement is the process of identifying and communicating effectively with those people or groups who have an interest in or influence on, the project outcome. It is usually carried out at the programme level.
All projects need to have some level of stakeholder engagement, particularly if they are not part of a programme.
Parties the external to the project management team can exert a powerful influence on a project.
Effective communication with key stakeholders, both internal and external to the corporate, programme management or customer organization, is essential to the project success.
Stakeholder engagement consists of a six-step procedure:
Identifying the individual stakeholders involved in, or affected by, the project and perhaps grouping similar stakeholders together so that key messages can be targeted effectively
Gaining an understanding of the influences, interests and attitudes of the stakeholders towards the project and the importance and power of each stakeholder.
For example, is a group likely to be negative, irrespective of the message, and therefore require particular care?
Stakeholders influence and interests, whether rational or emotional, must all be considered.
They have the potential to affect the success of the project. Perceptions may be mistaken, but they must be addressed. The stakeholder perceptions of the benefits should be quantified where possible.
Defining how the project effectively engages with the stakeholders, including determining the responsibilities for communication and the key messages that need to be conveyed. For each interested party, the following elements must be agreed:
Defining the methods and timings of the communications. These are best planned after defining how the project would engage with the different stakeholders.
When selecting the senders of information, it is important to select communicators who have the respect and trust of the audience. Their position in the corporate, programme management or customer organization and expertise in the subject matter, will greatly influence their credibility.
Many projects have a formal commencement meeting to introduce the project and its aims to the corporate, programme management or customer organization. If this type of meeting is used, it is important that the members of the project board attend to show their support and commitment to the project.
Carrying out the planned engagements and communications. The first two steps in stakeholder engagement (identifying and analyzing), also engage stakeholders to some degree.
Checking the effectiveness of the engagements. Project assurance could be involved in checking all the key stakeholders, the information needs and that the most appropriate communication channels are covered.