Many people often get confused about the questions "What is a stakeholder?" and "Who can be a project stakeholder? ".

The stakeholder definition, in general, compasses of the following: Stakeholders are individuals or organizations who are invested in a particular project and who are affected by this project in some way, and also their input has a direct impact on the project’s upshot.

The OGC’s Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) framework uses a categorization process to define stakeholder and identify all the stakeholders for programme, and this works equally well for project management.

There are four types of stakeholders, which provide a starting point for you to brainstorm all of the relevant parties involved. 

This list of stakeholders covers users, governance, influencers, and providers which all together go by the acronym UPIG.

Let’s look at each of those in a bit more detail.

Users as Stakeholders

Users are the stakeholder-type of people who will use the products of your project or programme. 

They are the beneficiaries of the outputs. 

They could be customers who are a very important group of stakeholders or another internal department. 

For example, in the case of delivering a new software package for your Sales team, the stakeholders would be the Sales team.

Governance as Stakeholders

These are people or groups of people who have an interest in how things are managed on the project or programme. 

For example, management boards or steering groups would fall into this category, as they usually have the job to monitor the quality of the project as it develops and to provide advice and guidance throughout its course.

In this group of governance, stakeholders belong to auditors, regulators, and health and safety executives.

Influencers as Stakeholders

Influencers are the people who have the power to influence decisions and the ability to change the direction of a certain project or programme. 

In the group of influencers as stakeholders belong to trade unions and lobby groups as they are known for having the capability to impact a project’s track and protect and improve the outcome.

Providers as Stakeholders

As you would expect, suppliers and vendors fall into this category. More specifically, a supplier’s job is to supply a company. In addition, the group of providers can cover a larger number of profiles also including business partners, temporary contractors, catering staff, and anyone else who provides resources to the project or programme.

There are many instances where an individual or a group would fall into more than one category. 

The staff could be both users and influencers – especially if you were surveying them about their training needs for example and then shaping the programme as a result of the findings.

You can also break the categories down, which is especially useful in the case of the users. 

You could split this into internal and external users, or Marketing and Customer Service users, or part-time or permanent users, or any combination that you find convenient for you and your project.

Business team reviews a document

The purpose of categorizing stakeholders is to be able to provide them with targeted communication regarding the project or programme, so break down your groups of stakeholders into meaningful silos related to shared interests.

You can use a mind mapping tool like iMindQ to capture the output from your stakeholder mapping and move the groups around until you are happy with the outcome. Try to keep the groupings at a practical level.

It is not helpful for your communication plans to have 'members of the public' but it could be useful to have 'members of the press covering the area around where we are building a new factory'.

The easy way to remember these four categories of stakeholders is by the acronym UPIG:  users, providers, influencers, governance.