Stakeholder Engagement for Testers – The talk I never did (Part 2)

Good Morning all!

so its time for part two of my stakeholder engagement series. If you have not read part 1 you can find it here where I talked about what a stakeholder is.

In this post we will look at who your stakeholders are. Types of stakeholders and how you identify them, so….

Who are Your Stakeholders?

So we know what stakeholders are now, they’re the people that, in one way or another give a damn(for more details see part 1 of this series). But who are these people? How do we start to identify them?

Types of stakeholders

The first thing to do is to understand the types of stakeholders. You are going to have stakeholders that are either internal or external. Project managers and IT managers most likely be internal, maybe your customer to, however it is as likely that your customers will be external. 3rd party delivery partners or service supplies will all also be external.

Also your stakeholders are going to be more focused towards either the project, such as PM’s Development Managers, and Purse String keepers, the product, Such as, end users, customers, Sales teams, shareholders, or regulators.

The key here is I said MORE focused; that is to say that most of the stakeholders are going to be interested in both. It is my experience however that they will pull to one side or the other.

The final way I like to group stakeholders are into enablers, those people that are going to help us achieve, and those that will constrain us; those that will make our life more difficult.

Putting stakeholders into groups is not black and white, but I find that it helps me to think about where my stakeholders are likely to be hiding as I venture into the process of identifying them all.

How do we identify our stakeholders?

There are a number of ways that you can start to identify who your stakeholders are, and I find it helpful to just make a long list of all the people that could have an interest in what my team or I are doing.

Organisation (org) charts are a good place to start. Most companies will have one, and it will show all the relationships between each of the people in your company, division or department etc.

A word of warning though, unfortunately org charts can go out of date very quickly as it is often the case that they are infrequently maintained. So they are rarely 100% reliable, but are still a good starting point, if it is not the only place you look.

There are very likely to be some roles that will be stakeholders every time you’re on a project. The Project Manager for example is going to be one of the first names on the list, but there are also going to be others. Over time you are going to build up a list of people and roles that are common stakeholders in your world.

I have a cheat sheet with a list of roles that are very often stakeholders. It acts as a great checklist, but I also use it as Terms of reference, putting the names against the roles as I go through it.

Here’s the current list that I use:

Screenshot 2015-08-06 19.41.41

Project documentation is going to be another good source, specifically any terms of reference, or initiation documents if your company produces these types of documents. These documents commonly hold details about who the stakeholders are for your project. Again this is not going to be a definitive list because not all stakeholders of the project are necessarily going to be stakeholders of testing.

The final, and maybe the best way of finding out who might be a stakeholder in your project is… ASK.

Get out there and speak to people to find out. Start with you project manager or test manager If that’s not you, but no one should be off limits to be able to ask who might be interest in your involvement within the project and or product.

Part 3 is here.

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