One of the most important tasks of the Project Manager  is to successfully identify all the key players who can influence the project to determine its success or failure. These key players include the stakeholders as well as the external elements who are interested in the outcome of the project and can influence the project in a positive or negative manner. These elements can be individuals or organizations and their influence on the project depends on their relative power and interest in the project.

One of the most efficient means for identifying the effect and type of influence of the stake holders is by carrying out a stakeholder analysis. Based on the analysis the stakeholders can be grouped in to various categories as shown in the figure below.

A similar exercise may be carried out to identify and categorize the non-stakeholders or external player like an organization or individual who has vested interests in the success or the failure of the project.

While a stakeholder or an external player with a positive interest will influence  the project to ensure its success, a stakeholder or external player with negative interest will try to influence the project to ensure its failure.

Some examples of positive and negative influences on the project are as listed below:

  • A bad competitor would have a negative interest and may resort to unfair and unethical means to ensure the failure of the project. They may do this by recruiting the key project members by offering them lucrative packages or by influencing key suppliers or even by directly or indirectly providing wrong information on the project and products to the customer.
  • An act of granting incentives by the Top Management to Project Team for a successful phase of a project will have a positive influence which shall motivate the team to give that extra effort to ensure the success of the project.
  • A stakeholder with negative interest will engage in internal politics to create divide and mistrust among the project team which can lead to the failure of the project in the form of budget overrun, undue delays and poor quality.

It is therefore essential for a Project Manager to analyze the stakeholders and non-stakeholders to determine their level of interest  as well as their type and  amount of influence on the project.  The  information obtained from such analysis is to be used by the Project Manager to develop the strategies to minimize or nullify the negative influences to prevent the project failure and to maximize the positive influences and utilize them to ensure the success of the project.