Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Stakeholders…Oh My!

Category : Servant Leadership, Stakeholder Management, Telecommunications

stakeholder managememt

When we use the term “stakeholder” in our daily conversation we usually are referencing our “Primary Stakeholder” or “Key Stakeholder” who are directly impacted by the project or initiative in question. However it is important to consider “Secondary Stakeholders” and in some instances “Tertiary Stakeholders”.

Secondary Stakeholders are normally indirectly affected or as Anand Subramanian stated in his presentation “Stakeholder Mapping: Game Plan To Influence Stakeholder Groups” they areĀ  “intermediaries in the delivery process”. You can be even more granular in your definition of stakeholders by including a third level classification or “Tertiary Stakeholders”. Tertiary Stakeholders are often “external” and may include advocacy groups, government entities etc. depending on your project.

The key is to make sure you clearly define stakeholder types at the forefront of your Stakeholder Analysis. Your “Stakeholder Engagement Model” should address these Stakeholder types directly and distinctly. You should have unique communication and engagement plans for each stakeholder type and should consider even more granular communication tactics based on the influence of each stakeholder. The level of detail and depth is project-based up to you of course!

This approach also helps avoid confusion when tossing around the word “stakeholder”. Just saying someone is a “stakeholder” does not itself imply the level of attention and method of engagement required. By not being specific and not drafting targeted engagement plans you may waste time providing frequent updates/reports to those who may not be interested and risk upsetting a primary stakeholder because he/she has been left out of the loop. These definitions are more than just “Pomp and Circumstance” so take the time and increase your chance of a successful engagement!

1) Do you take the time to clearly define the differences between Primary and Secondary Stakeholders?
2) Have you ever defined and identified “Tertiary Stakeholders” in your project? If so, why?
3) Are there any standard definitions you feel best exemplify these terms?

Talk Back!

Brian McCurtis, PMP

Anand Subramanian
Stakeholder Mapping: Game Plan To Influence Stakeholder Groups

2) Have you ever defined and identified “Tertiary Stakeholders” in your project? If so, why?

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