Stakeholder analysis is the systematic identification, evaluation, and prioritization of everyone who can influence, or has an interest in, a project, program or business. It assists with the development of an effective stakeholder communication and engagement strategy and is a fundamental element of an organization’s stakeholder management plan.
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.
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:
Stakeholder management is critical to the success of every organization, program, and project. Stakeholder analysis is useful for:
Use stakeholder mapping:
The process is especially important in the early stages of development and for projects that:
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:
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.
High Influence, Low Interest
These stakeholders are highly influential but they don’t have a lot of interest, nor are they actively engaged in your project. Consider their objectives and keep them satisfied to ensure they remain strong advocates. Getting them off side poses a risk.
High Influence, High Interest
These are your key stakeholders. 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.
Low Influence, Low Interest
These stakeholders sit on the periphery of the project. They are neither interested or have much influence. 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.
Low Influence, High Interest
These stakeholders have a strong interest in your project but very little power to influence it. 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.
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
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:
Define criteria for the axis in the Stakeholder Map template. These definitions may be quite different from one stakeholder analysis to another.
The first step in building a stakeholder map is to create a categorized list of the people or groups who are interested or affected by your work and its outcomes, or who have influence or power over what you do.
Stakeholders usually fall into two main categories. Those that contribute to the initiative and those that are affected by it. Some stakeholder may fit into both categories.
Examples of stakeholder groups include:
Questions to consider:
Gather ideas using a whiteboard, sticky notes, poster paper or an online collaboration tool such as GroupMap. Using an online tool greatly reduces the time and effort to collate and organize the information in subsequent steps.
Once you have a complete list of stakeholders, position them on the stakeholder map template to give a visual representation of their relevance in relation to one another.
The matrix shows how critical each one is to the project and identifies where to focus your efforts for an effective communications and engagement strategy
This process can be done individually or in small groups then combined, or as a facilitated group discussion. A tool like GroupMap provides an enormous saving in time and effort at this stage, especially if you choose the first option as the software automatically provides a group average.
This step will add a third dimension to your stakeholder map and provide even more information to focus your limited time and resource on.
Rate each stakeholder based on their level of support – from adversary to advocate. Advocates will be your cheerleaders and will help you achieve success. Adversaries will make things difficult, and you will need to work hard to bring them onboard and manage their objections.
Discuss and add comments to each stakeholder to inform further actions. It’s neither practical nor necessary to communicate with all stakeholders at all stages of the process. The more information you have, the easier it will be to prioritize and target your efforts.
Once the group is happy they have identified the key stakeholders, they should determine the necessary follow-up activities, along with the people, expertise, and budget required to make them happen.
For example, you may need to conduct interviews or forums with some of the key players to work out exactly what motivates them, what information they want from you, and how they would like to receive it before you develop your communications plan.
Compile a report on the results of the Stakeholder Mapping process. The report should contain the stakeholder rankings, any planned actions along with those responsible, and timeframes for implementation.
A stakeholder map is not static. It will evolve as a project progresses and when stakeholders make decisions or change their opinions.
Use the report to:
GroupMap automatically generates visually appealing reports in several formats for distribution, saving time and effort after the workshop.
Getting your best people together to work on strategy is critical to the success of your business. But group activities have an opportunity cost and it’s essential to optimize your time and effort. GroupMap is the effective way to brainstorm, discuss, and decide, and solves many of the problems commonly associated with group activities.
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