Stakeholder - Needs Analysis

This involves doing research to determine:

  • The key stakeholders associated with the project
  • The needs of the key stakeholders

At the conclusion of this process an agreement about the real requirements of the project has to be reached.

Identification of the stakeholders

If all of the relevant stakeholders are not identified at the beginning, the success of the project/phase can be placed in jeopardy.

You must identify who the project is being done for, who will be affected, what they want or expect and their actual needs.

Care needs to be taken in this identification process. Someone who is initially considered irrelevant to the project can suddenly become important to it. The quiet, little person in the corner can often end up being the most important stakeholder!

Some definitions:

  • The sponsor pays the bills or authorises the expenditure
  • The end-users use the product of the project
  • The champion paves the way and must be keep informed and interested

Prioritising stakeholders

You must determine the primary or key stakeholders for the project. They can be interested in the outcomes of the project or, alternatively might cause problems along the way.

Key decision makers will attract priority in having their needs and expectations met and it is important to be aware of unstated agendas within this group.

Analysing the needs of stakeholders and clients

The client's needs, and those of the key stakeholders, should be fully understood.

Sometimes stakeholders will have conflicting needs that must be resolved before the project can proceed.

One of the purposes of the stakeholder analysis is to separate "needs" from "wants". Ask the question "what will make this project successful for you".


Clear and accurate documentation is critical to the process.

It is important that the needs are documented in the terminology of the key stakeholders so that no ambiguity can exist and a meaningful agreement can be achieved. In the analysis, the client's needs should be reviewed, constraints should be identified, the determined needs should be realistic, the findings should be documented and, most importantly, approval from the key stakeholders should be obtained in writing.

The project manager must identify and resolve the needs of key stakeholders and make sure that needs are managed throughout the project.

Often new stakeholders appear during the project. Keep an eye out for them.


The linked stakeholder-needs analysis template guides you through the documentation of stakeholder needs.


Project Risk

It is good practice to start thinking about risks early in the project. The stakeholder-needs analysis is a sensible place to start a log or list of potential risks as risks may be attached to stakeholders.

You will find a more extensive discussion later under the section on Project Risk.


The project risk template is a guide to the analysis and planning of project risks.


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