When categorizing the stakeholders one thing that we have to do is write down the type of influence they have on the project: positive or negative.
But what to do when we don’t know what is it? What if we are tempted to say it is “neutral”, in the sense of “this stakeholder doesn’t care if the project is successful as well as if it is unsuccessful”?
Discussing this today, with a fellow PMP at work, I got to some conclusions / decisions.
The first one, and the most obvious one, is that there is no rule on what types of classifications we can have. As with most things, the Project Manager is free to customize the project as needed. So, adding a “neutral” influence is perfectly possible.
The second conclusion is that there is no “neutral” stakeholder. There is always a small tendency on being pro or against the project. What can be done, then, is adding the “neutral” influence type and using it as a marker for reviewing this classification as soon as a better judgment of the stakeholder’s influence type is known.
The third thing is that not knowing the correct classification is a project risk. That stakeholder can be working against the project and a misclassification of him / her can lead to ignoring key factors as well as loosing opportunities to neutralize / mitigate the bad influence from the stakeholder.
The correct classification and identification of stakeholders is one of the factors that can help with project management and lead to the success of the project.