What is stakeholder analysis?
A simple but effective stakeholder analysis technique is stakeholder mapping. Interested parties (stakeholders) are plotted against two variables, most commonly Interest and Influence. The resulting stakeholder matrix clearly identifies key players who can have the greatest impact on the success of an initiative. This map assists with prioritization of resources and provides a foundation for a communications and engagement plan.
Stakeholder analysis can be done once at the beginning of a project or regularly throughout implementation to track changes in engagement.
Why perform stakeholder analysis?
Understanding who your stakeholders are and the impact they may have on your business or project is crucial to success. Not engaging key players in the right way at an early stage can have disastrous results for a project.. The development of a stakeholder map:
- Creates a shared understanding of the key people who can impact on your success.
- Provides a foundation for your communications and engagement strategy.
- Identifies potential risks from negative stakeholders or those who feel they are not being heard.
- Prioritizes stakeholders so the appropriate amount of resources can be assigned and the right engagement strategy is applied.
Who can use stakeholder analysis?
Stakeholder management is critical to the success of every organization, program, and project. Stakeholder analysis is useful for:
- All industries
- All levels of an organization
- All departments
- Existing businesses
- New businesses
- Business processes
Use stakeholder mapping:
- In regular organizational reviews
- When assessing changing business conditions
- When developing new initiatives
- As part of a broad environmental scan for initial planning
The process is especially important in the early stages of development and for projects that:
- Impact on the community
- Span across multiple teams or organizations
- Cross cultural boundaries
- Have external investors
Stakeholder analysis template
A stakeholder analysis template, (aka stakeholder map) provides a visual representation of the importance of your stakeholders. Common dimensions used for a stakeholder map are:
- Level of Interest – How much a stakeholder cares about the outcomes. Are they beneficiaries or will there be negative effects?
- Level of Influence – The degree in which a stakeholder can make or break the project. For example through funding, legislation, protests, etc.
Other dimensions may be more relevant for some organizations. For example, level of investment, level of positive/negative commitment, level of support (advocate or adversary), need for outcomes etc.
The resulting stakeholder matrix gives an indication of what kind of engagement strategy is useful for each group of stakeholders.
Consider their objectives and keep them satisfied to ensure they remain strong advocates. Getting them off side poses a risk.
- Regulators (eg. EPA, FDA, Tax)
- Administrators (ie. with discretion over budgets)
Monitor their activity from time to time to stay on top of their involvement. Their relevance may change over time. Communicate to keep them informed and encourage their interest.
- Support/Complementary Services
They have a lot of influence and a strong interest in the outcomes. Manage these stakeholders well to build strong relationships and ensure you retain their support. Involve them in decisions and engage regularly.
- Trade Unions
- Politicians and senior officials
- Senior Management
- Project Sponsors
Anticipate their needs and keep these stakeholders informed to ensure their continued support. Consult on their area of interest and use their input to improve your chances of success.
- End users of a program or product
- Members of the community
- Community Action groups
- Media outlets
How to create a stakeholder map
Assemble a cross-functional group of people with a range of perspectives on the business, product, service, or project to create the stakeholder map. The quality of the outcomes is dependent on the insight of the participants, and a diverse group helps to identify key stakeholders from across the entire spectrum of the business.
There are six general steps for a stakeholder mapping workshop. The time required will vary on the organization, the size of the group, and the focus of the session. However, there is no reason why the map can’t be completed within an hour. A comprehensive communications plan in response to the map will require further effort.
Give context and identify the scope of the stakeholder analysis
Gather a comprehensive list of stakeholders.
Position stakeholders according to their influence and interest.
Rate each stakeholder based on their level of support – from adversary to advocate
Identify actions, assign responsibilities and timeframes
Report on the outcomes and monitor as part of your communications strategy Scope
Give context and define the scope of the stakeholder analysis. Ensure all participants understand the purpose of the session and how the results will be used. Goals will depend on the industry, organization, stage of the project, and your current communication and engagement objectives. For example, will the session focus on current stakeholders or those potentially affected by a new initiative.
Present data and information that provides context for the development of the stakeholder map. Examples of information might include:
- Results from a Business Impact Assessment, Business Model Canvas, SWOT Analysis, PESTLE Analysis
- Industry trends and news
- Relevant rules and regulations
Define criteria for the axis in the Stakeholder Map template. These definitions may be quite different from one stakeholder analysis to another.
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