Stakeholders are people, groups, or organisations that could impact or be impacted by a decision, activity, or outcome of your test project. Identifying stakeholders allows the test manager to control what information is presented and at what level of detail to each one. This in turn influences your communication strategy, meeting invites, reporting, and planning.
Stakeholders may be at different levels within the project and within the organisation, and identifying the necessary relationships and their needs (and in turn letting them know your needs, where necessary) will be a key part of your planning.
Within the project your stakeholders may include:
- Your test team members
- Your project management team
- Leads and members of other streams, for example data, integration, configuration, process
Stakeholders external to your project may include:
- Business managers that provide UAT testers and signoffs
- Third parties that you are interfacing to or from
- Procurement departments for software and hardware supplies
- Communications teams for group communication to the wider business
- Regulatory or standards bodies
Stakeholders will tend to fall into either Active or Passive categories. Active stakeholders will be included in your project plan as people or groups that have tasks assigned and/or dependencies in or out; Passive stakeholders may not have any direct tasks, but will be included in reporting and communications and may influence the direction that your strategy takes. How closely you manage and communicate with each stakeholder will depend on their level of influence on your test project outcome.
In order to identify, list, and categorise all stakeholder, you will need to seek information from those that you already work closely with – the project managers and workstreams, including the training and communications streams. The blueprint phase will have already identified many stakeholders, and in building your test strategy you will identify many more, so that you can build a complete test plan and communications strategy.
Building a stakeholder register can be onerous but will pay dividends in the long run. Who are the contact points (both internal and external) for your interfaces? Who are the single points of contact for each stream for process issues and questions? What are the distribution lists for emails? Who are the test leads for each region/entity? Who are the business process owners that have the authority to sign off your testing? A single document on a shared location, including their contact details, provides a central list that can be referenced by all team members.
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