I have always liked the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) definition of a stakeholder; stakeholders are a:
Person or organisation (e.g., customer, sponsor, performing organisation, or the public) that is actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the execution or completion of the project. A stakeholder may also exert influence over the project and its deliverables. (PMBoK 4th Ed., p443).
To PMI’s definition of stakeholder we can add a little perspective regarding stakeholder interdependence by asking the following questions from Jeffrey Pfeffer:
- Whose cooperation will I need to accomplish what I am attempting; whose support will be necessary in order to get the appropriate decisions made and implemented?
- Whose opposition could delay or derail what I am trying to do?
- Who will be affected by what I am trying to accomplish, in either a) their power or status, b) how they are evaluated or rewarded, or c) in how they do their job?
- Who are the friends and allies of the people I have identified as influential? (Jeffrey Pfeffer, Managing With Power, p67).