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4 reasons to have a stakeholder register

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A box full of business cards

Photo credit: Wikipedia

A stakeholder register is the list of everyone that affected by the project’s outcome. For example, it could be a client. This list includes all the necessary information gathered from your stakeholder analysis like contact information, roles, influence on project, any requirements whatsoever to meet towards them, communication preference, etc.

Some may be tempted to simply keep some emails from them which have their contact information in their signature, and think that this is enough. While it can do the job, here are several reasons having a real well-made stakeholder register can help you with your projects:

1.Manage the right expectations

Whether you manage expectations like an expert or not, if you do not manage the right ones, it won’t do you any good in the end. One situation that can completely devastate your project is communicating with one person throughout the execution of the project, and finding out later that your contact does not take any real decisions and his boss has the last word. What can happen is that the work, although validated by your contact, is not actually validated by the boss. If your contact regularly communicates everything to his boss, then it may be just fine, but it once happened to me where the boss had never seen the work done, and only saw the project once almost done. That’s when my contact called me to announce that it’s not at all what he expected and we had to make serious changes.

If I had known all along that another stakeholder, one with actual decision power over the project, was behind all this, I could have made sure that he was satisfied. By making a stakeholder register, you are forced to ask the right questions like “Who holds power?”, which can avoid situations like the one I lived.

2.Have requirements/preferences available

No matter how well you communicate, or how often, if it doesn’t meet requirements or other’s preferences, it will not be optimal. By including such information like “Send a status on the project schedule each Tuesday to Joe.”, you can then easily make sure he receives the status. If you have no idea, or if you do not document the information and forget, you may disappoint some clients.

3.Have all contact information in one place

If you don’t gather all information in your register, chances are, they are going to be scattered in mails, or on business cards laying around. By having all the information in one place, you always know where to look if you need to contact anyone. You save time, and most of all, you avoid losing the information.

4.Easier for a PM if the project is transferred

It may be easy sometimes only to think about ourselves when we document or gather information, especially if it’s information usually only we use, but it may be possible for you to have to transfer the project to another project manager; whether it’s because you are leaving the company or a colleague will take your place on a specific project, you have to consider that having a stakeholder register will help them in knowing who to call, whose expectations to consider most of all, and anything worth knowing to help manage them.

I once got a project transfer where there was about 10-15 people to contact, each on different occasions. Sometimes I had to contact 5 of them in one afternoon. Fortunately, the previous project manager made a list with names, emails, and when to contact each of them. At first, it can be hard to remember everyone at once, and what they do exactly, so having this list really helped me contact the right person at the right time.

At some point, you learn by heart who to contact, and when, but it’s still important to keep it updated even if you don’t use it much anymore, keeping in mind that the project may be transferred again.

In conclusion

The stakeholder register may not seem the most useful document of all. If you have a lot of work on your plate, you may be tempted to skip it. Nevertheless, in the end, it doesn’t take that much time to create (presuming you do not have 100 stakeholders) and the documented information may save your project if it helps you manage the right expectations.

Do you create stakeholder registers? Do you find it useful for your projects?


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