Stakeholder management is the process of identifying, prioritizing, and engaging stakeholders throughout the product development process. It’s an essential component of product management because stakeholders – the individuals or groups who can either impact the success and execution or impact the product – ultimately play a significant role in a product’s life.
Product managers (PMs) must first accurately identify who their stakeholders are to cultivate and nurture strong stakeholder relationships successfully. PMs also need to fully understand the unique points of view and needs of their stakeholders. Like any solid relationship, it requires ongoing strategic engagement and effort.
What Are the Different Types of Stakeholders?
There are many different types of internal and external stakeholders. Examples include employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, communities, and governments. Upstream stakeholders contribute to or approve the activities required to design, build and bring a product to market.
Regardless of type, stakeholders generally have these attributes in common:
- Influence: Stakeholders have enough power and strategic importance to the business that their ideas and opinions can impact the ability to advance the product strategy, create a roadmap, and execute it.
- Connection: Stakeholders are concerned about the product because they are impacted by product decisions—from investors concerned about financial performance, market share, and valuation to customers worried about how the product will continue to support their needs.
- Power: Stakeholders have something product managers need (e.g., information, approval, budget, cooperation, etc.).
- Irreplaceability: Each stakeholder or stakeholder role (e.g., CFO) brings a unique value to the project.