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Stakeholder Analysis - Key Players

Key Players are stakeholders who have a high influence on your project and a high interest in the project's success or failure.
These stakeholders are integral to the success of the project so it is essential that you identify them early, understand their motivations and develop an engagement strategy to ensure that their requirements are captured and their needs met.
managing stakeholders who are key players
key players stakeholders you can't ignore

How to recognise stakeholders who are Key Players

Key Players will be influential people for example: senior staff who will direct the project or experts whose knowledge will be essential for the delivery of the project.

Anyone who is has the power to decide on the project budget should be in this category along with those who could stop the project or divert project resources.
Key Players may not be positive about the project, but they will be influential and interested enough to have a significant impact on project success.
Stakeholders who are truly Key Players should be few in number. If you have a high percentage of key players it is worth completing another stakeholder analysis to ensure they are genuinely high interest/high influence/high power stakeholders. This images shows a typical stakeholder graph following a stakeholder analysis.
stakeholder analysis graph
Generally you would expect the following roles to fall into the key player category:
  • C- level executives e.g. CEC, CTO, CFO
  • Key Account Directors
  • Project Sponsor/executive
  • Project Board members - may include C level executives depending on the profile of the project
  • Project Manager
  • Quality Director/Head off
  • Risk Management Directors
  • Team Managers (managers of the people actually doing the work)
  • Subject Matter Experts e.g. the lead developer on an IT project or a high profile management consultant bought in as an adviser

Questions used to identify stakeholders who are key players

Job titles are the only indicator of a Stakeholder's importance and interest. You can also find Key Players by looking at responsibilities and accountabilities. For example think about these questions:
  • Who holds the budget?
  • Who owns the profit and loss?
  • Who owns the relationship with the customer?
  • Who signed up to the business case?
  • Who will report on the KPIs?
  • Who will be providing resources, people and equipment?
  • Who seems to have a keen interest? Is this a pet project for someone?
  • Who will stand to lose their job if this project doesn't work out?
  • Who will get promoted if this goes well?
  • Who will build/is building their reputation on this?
  • Who will report to the board/most senior committee on progress?
  • Who will end up in court if this goes wrong?
It is usually pretty easy to spot these key players because they will often make themselves known to you. Their names will appear on sales paperwork, the account manager will refer to them in hand over meetings. They will be at the kick off meeting and will usually take a role on the project team.
Make sure Key Players are consulted at all stages and use them to help drive your project to a successful conclusion.

Stakeholder Management Resources