External Stakeholders are individuals or groups outside a business or project, but who can affect or be affected by the business or project. Arguably external stakeholders wield the most influence on the long term success of a business or project, because external stakeholders will often be the end users/customers.
Stakeholders are any groups or individuals who can affect or are affected by an organisation, strategy or project. They can be internal or external and they can be at senior or junior levels.
Who are external stakeholders?
The image above shows typical External Stakeholders suggested by
Tres Roeder in Managing Project Stakeholders: Building a Foundation to Achieve Project Goals
So we can see that Internal Stakeholders are groups or individuals within an organisation or project, whereas external stakeholders are the customers, distributors, governments, suppliers, communities, laws and regulations
. (Karim, et al., 2007, pp.8
Other definitions of External Stakeholders
There are many slight variations on the definition of External stakeholders but they all agree that External Stakeholders are stakeholders that are outside
of a business or project.
Boundless define external stakeholders as:
[...] individuals, groups, and entities from outside that are affected by the consequences and outcomes of an organization's decisions. Boundless Management. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015
Business case studies
, give an even clearer definition in their case study on Reed Elsevier
External stakeholders are those individuals or groups outside a business.
Business Case Studies
Why are external stakeholders important?
All stakeholders can impact your organisation or project. Internal stakeholders
may appear more important because of their proximity to a project or initiative. Internal stakeholders may well be 'close' and may well also be more immediately influential, but their influence may be only be key in the short term.
Arguably external stakeholders wield the most influence on the long term success of a business or project, because external stakeholders will often be the end users/customers.
That said, during a project external stakeholders should still be identified
and managed. The Gower Handbook of Project Management
explains succinctly why external stakeholders always need to be considered.
these distractions [external stakeholders] can have a major influence on whether the project will be a success.
For example, the cost of dealing with pressure groups protesting against a new bypass
can add up to 15% to the cost of the project.
R. Turner, 2014, pp 758
While external stakeholders may feel like a distraction or distant from the task at hand it would be a mistake to exclude them from your stakeholder analysis. You may find this generic list of stakeholders
useful for identifying your external stakeholders.
Download a template for mapping external stakeholders
References - External Stakeholders
Saipol Bari Abd Karim, Hamzah Abdul Rahman, Mohamed Ali Berawi, Aini Jaapar, 2007. A review of the issues and strategies of Stakeholder Management in the Construction Industry
, Management in Construction and Researchers Association (MICRA) Meetings and Conference, 28-29 Aug. 2007, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. [online] Available at: https://www.academia.edu/172847/Issues_and_Strategies_in_Stakeholder_Management
Useful Stakeholder Management resources
Stakeholder analysis templates in Word, Visio and Excel.
Stakeholder Management ebook
Happy Stakeholders - Pleasure and Displeasure List
Stakeholders - who are the Key Players?
- Some Stakeholders are really important. How do you find them and get them on your side before they can do any damage?
Project stakeholders - typical stakeholders on a project
Stakeholder mind map
- a mind map showing stakeholders for an IT project.
- an overview of the stakeholder salience model.