Terminology Project Stakeholders: Be Aware and Beware!

stakholderOne of the first things you need to do when you start a project is to figure out who your stakeholders are and get to know them well. A person or group of people who has an interest in your project, is affected by it (directly or indirectly) or who can influence its outcome is a stakeholder. It is important to be AWARE of who they are and what role they play in your project, especially their attitude towards it: Negative stakeholders may not be rooting for your project to succeed (maybe the stakeholder has been doing glossaries manually and feels threatened by that new terminology tool you are trying to implement). Here’s when your PM soft skills kick in! Use your skills to turn him around and make him an ally in the future.

Also, if it’s a large organization, new stakeholders might be popping up as you hold your interviews, so you might need to create a Stakeholder Register (read more here) in which you will need to write down their responsibilities, goals, concerns, and expectations. Managing stakeholder expectations is a daily task in a PM’s agenda: communicating with everybody, dealing with hidden agendas, making sure needs are met.

One of the techniques to identify stakeholders is the Stakeholder Analysis which starts by interviewing all people involved. Find out the value the project has for them and try to figure out if there are any other stakeholders to interview. Divide them into groups based on their level of involvement and need for communication.

Stakeholders in terminology projects have specific and interchangeable roles. According to the Terminology Starter Guide, stakeholders in a terminology project may include, among others:

  1. The Executive Sponsor: can help you open doors with your business case as he has high-level support
  2. The Project Manager: understands the corporate climate and the technology, is committed to success, has exceptional communication skills, and management experience
  3. Terminologists: look for and record new terminology, manage existing terminology by updating records to identify terms that have become obsolete, communicate with a diverse group of corporate subject-matter experts to determine the appropriate terms for concepts
  4. Technical writers: are responsible for identifying key terms and drafting definitions
  5. Technical editors: work directly with writers and terminologists to validate terms and definitions according to established grammar and style guidelines
  6. Linguist/translators: plays an invaluable role by assisting with data structure design and addressing terminological issues
  7. Globalization and localization expert: helps ensure correct and consistent source text that is culturally neutral and world ready

Stakeholders may also include people from software development, product management, marketing, procurement, engineering, R&D, operations, sales and distribution, legal department, human resources, end users (of termbase), and the sponsor(s).

Ideally, all stakeholders should have at least some knowledge on terminology management, for which you might want to provide basic training at an early stage (terminology tool to be used, etc.), although not all stakeholders have to be trained terminologists! Make sure that they know the mutual benefits of terminology management (refer to my section on ROI and benefits of terminology).

To counteract any Negative Stakeholders you need to develop a Stakeholder Strategy. Always keep your stakeholders motivated and updated, recognize their contribution and share ownership of the project. Watch out for communication issues, and make sure they get the right information to help them make good decisions. Hold regular meetings and make sure everybody is familiar with the subject matter. You can read more on writing your stakeholder strategy in this short but great post by PM Study Circle).

For more guidance on how to get to know your stakeholders better, read this post by Anthony Mersino, What is Stakeholder Relationship Management All About? in his blog Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.



  1. Terminology Starter Guide. Read here
  2. Head First PMP, by Jennifer Green and Andrew Stellman (see my PM resources)
  3. PMBOK Guide. Fifth Edition (see my PM resources)
  4. PM Study Circle.

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