Understanding and Engaging Stakeholders through Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder Analysis
  • 5 MINUTES READ
  • Also known as Stakeholder Mapping.

    Variants include Stakeholder Management, Resistance Analysis and Communications Charter.

    A Stakeholder refers any party who may have an interest in an organization’s activities or could be affected by its outcomes. Stakeholders can be any internal or external individuals, groups, departments, business units, or organizations. Primary stakeholders are those directly involved in the economic transactions of the business, while secondary stakeholders are those who may be affected by or have the ability to influence the organization in some manner.

    Stakeholder Examples
    Examples of stakeholders for an organization

    Stakeholder analysis is a systematic process aimed at identifying and analyzing individuals or groups that are likely to affect or be affected by a particular project or other organizational activities. This analysis can be conducted periodically or on a regular basis to monitor stakeholder attitudes and behaviors over time. Stakeholder analysis is widely used in project management, conflict resolution, organizational transformation and change management.

    In the context of project management, stakeholder analysis serves to foster engagement and collaboration between the project team and relevant stakeholders. This, in turn, mitigates conflicts and encourages cooperation during project implementation. It helps in determining the individuals who should be involved, consulted, or informed about project activities and issues. Additionally, it helps in identifying other parties who might be impacted positively or negatively by the project’s outcome.

    Project Stakeholder Examples
    Examples of stakeholders for a particular project

    The first step involves identifying the stakeholders associated with the project. This can be achieved by brainstorming and compiling a list of individuals and groups who have a stake in the project. Subsequently, these stakeholders are organized into logical categories such as external stakeholders, process teams, senior managers, etc. Affinity mapping can be utilized to organize and make sense of the various stakeholder groups.

    Project Stakeholder Structure
    The first step involves identifying the stakeholders and grouping them into logical categories

    Next, you need to analyze stakeholders based on their roles and characteristics. Multiple stakeholder attributes are considered during this analysis to gauge their level of involvement. This article focuses on four key characteristics which are:

    1. The power and influence they hold (determined by their positions).
    2. Whether they are aware of the project and its impact.
    3. Whether they are interested in the project outcome.
    4. Whether they are supportive or resistant to the project or change.
    Power-Interest Characteristics
    Key stakeholder characteristics
    The Four Characteristics of Stakeholders
    The four characteristics of stakeholders can be summarized in a table

    Power-Interest Matrix

    One of the most widely used tools for analyzing stakeholders is the power-interest matrix. This matrix comprises four quadrants that categorize stakeholders based on their level of power and interest in the project. The four stakeholder groups identified by the power-interest matrix are key players, context setters, defenders, and the crowd.

    Power-Interest Matrix

    Once the level of involvement for each stakeholder is determined, any gaps between their current and desired involvement levels should be identified. Subsequently, actions should be devised and implemented to bridge these gaps. To assess stakeholder current involvement in the project as well as where they need to be in terms of project involvement, you may utilize to the involvement planning worksheet provided below.

    Involvement Planning Worksheet
    Involvement Planning Worksheet

    The final step involves creating a comprehensive communication plan to effectively convey the appropriate messages to each stakeholder at the most suitable time. This plan should include details such as the designated communicator for each stakeholder, key messages to be delivered, and the communication method to be employed (e.g., informal conversations, invitations to team meetings, emails, etc.). For assistance in devising your communication actions, you can refer to the communication action worksheet provided below.

    Communication Action Worksheet
    Communication Action Worksheet

    Example

    Consider the below table and utilize the data to plot the stakeholders on an empty power-interest matrix, taking into consideration the four characteristics of stakeholders: power, awareness, interest and support.

    The four characteristics of stakeholders:
    Power-interest matrix
    A power-interest matrix to represent the ‘power’ and ‘interest’ characteristics
    Power-interest matrix
    A third dimension to represent the ‘awareness’ characteristic
    Power-interest matrix
    A fourth dimension to represent the ‘support’ characteristic

    Stakeholders often move around the matrix. Some stakeholders will become more interested as the implementation progresses and they start to see that the changes will affect them. Others may gain more influence through internal promotions or transfers within the organization. Because of that, this analysis needs to be carried out regularly throughout the project lifecycle.

    Power-Interest Characteristics

    There are many tools that can help in analyzing and managing stakeholders. One of the simplest and most straightforward ways is to use this stakeholder analysis template.

    Wrapping Up

    In short, stakeholders are people or groups connected to an organization or project. They can be directly involved or affected by the organization or project. Stakeholder analysis is essential for managing projects and resolving conflicts to enhances collaboration and minimizes problems. Additionally, stakeholders are evaluated based on their power, awareness, interest, and support in the project, facilitating effective engagement and decision-making.

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