A stakeholder is anyone that has a vested interest in a project. By that definition, there are many types of stakeholders. There are external stakeholders, such as customers and users, and internal stakeholders, such as executives and team members. A stakeholder always wants the project to succeed and has unique expectations as to what defines that success.
If your stakeholders aren’t satisfied with the results of a project, you’ve failed. Therefore, in order to successfully complete a project, it’s essential to gain a clear understanding of who your stakeholders are, what their expectations are and what motivates them. This process is called stakeholder analysis.
What Is Stakeholder Analysis?
Stakeholder analysis identifies and prioritizes stakeholders before the project begins. It organizes stakeholders into groups according to how much they participate in the project, what their interest level is and how much influence they have. Once these people are identified and organized, then you must figure out the best way to involve each stakeholder in the project, including the best channels for communication based on their needs.
Communication is key to stakeholder analysis because stakeholders must buy into and approve the project, and this can only be done with timely information and visibility into the project. The former puts the project in context while the latter builds trust. All this leads to the project being in strategic alignment with stakeholders and the overall business goals of the company.
Why It’s Important
Stakeholder analysis is a way to get help from key project players. Once you determine who these key stakeholders are, then you can bring them into the kickoff to help align the project with strategic objectives. Their experience helps a project avoid pitfalls and getting their help builds stronger relationships. They can also help with conflict resolution during the project execution.
Stakeholders are also crucial for delivering the resources you need to get the project done right. When there is good communications between a stakeholder and a project manager, then the stakeholder can help deliver the people, tools and other resources necessary to get the project done.
The process of going through a stakeholder analysis is also a way to build a relationship of trust with stakeholders. Once you have a line of communications open with stakeholders, develop a good rapport and show transparency into the project, you encourage trust. These elements should be considered in your stakeholder management plan.
How to Identify Stakeholders
Before getting into the analysis, one must first know who the stakeholders are. There are a few questions that have to be posed, such as figuring out who the most influential stakeholders are in terms of the project. These are going to be clients or customers, the people for whom the project was created.
Then you want to know any additional stakeholders that are affected by the project. This could include those who would be environmentally impacted by the project, for example.
Ask yourself which stakeholders have control of the project resources. These stakeholders are going to be part of the influential group. Don’t forget to collect what the stakeholders motivations and interests are, as this will help you to manage them and their expectations.
Finally, there will be people who are important to the project that will not be identified as stakeholders or at least not the key stakeholders of the project. You still need to keep them informed to some extent without making them feel neglected or left out of the loop. Not all stakeholders should be treated equally: there would be no way to proceed with the project.
Stakeholder Mapping and How to Do It
Stakeholder analysis uses a technique called stakeholder mapping. Before getting started you first must decide on the focus of the project. This will determine who is most important in terms of stakeholders. Once that is figured out, then you can follow these steps.
List the Stakeholders
As noted above, stakeholders come in all shapes and sizes. While it’s important to narrow the focus that comes in later. At this point you want to list everyone who is a stakeholder, no matter the level of their significance to the project. As you list your stakeholders, keep in mind that they fall into two main categories: those who are affected by the project and those who contribute to it.
For example, the project manager and the team are contributors to the project, while the end-user is someone who is affected by it. Though it is possible that stakeholders fall into both categories. The better this list is, the less likely you’ll be delayed or sidetracked during the project.
What are the roles and expectations of all those stakeholders that you have listed above? Some stakeholders are going to have more importance to the project and their expectations will have more of an impact than others. This is where you make those determinations.
You can discern this by using an influence-interest matrix, which is a box broken into four sections. You should place your stakeholders in one of the four boxes based on their interest and influence levels.
The top of the box is broken into two sections: keep informed and manage closely. The lower half of the box is also broken into two sections: minimal contact and keep satisfied. Anyone placed to the right of the box has more influence, while anyone placed near the top of the box has more interest. If a stakeholder is placed in the top right, then they have a lot of interest and influence, making them important players in the project.
Once you have a thorough list, you can begin prioritizing them by importance to the project. Decide who among them have the most influence on the project and are affected by it. You can use the influence-interest matrix again to help with prioritizing stakeholders.
Don’t forget that the status of your stakeholders are not static, they can change throughout the course of the project. Stakeholder analysis is not a one-time thing, but is a process that should continue throughout the project.
Finally, with the information created in your stakeholder map, you figure out how to engage your stakeholders. This is the process by which you win over stakeholders, get their understanding and support to help fuel the project, putting it on the right course. This leads to a communication plan that outlines the channel and frequency of communications between you and each stakeholder. You can use our communication plan template to get started.
ProjectManager.com Improves Stakeholder Management
Once you have identified and analyzed your stakeholders, you’re going to have to work with them. That’s where ProjectManager.com comes in. Our award-winning project management software has all the tools you need to manage your projects and keep your stakeholders engaged.
Naturally, stakeholders have an interest in the project. But, that doesn’t mean you have to give them every detail. Sometimes it’s the big picture that counts. ProjectManager.com has a real-time dashboard that paints the project in broad strokes, such as task progress, costs and project variance. These colorful graphs and charts make it easy to see where the project is right now.
Being prepared for stakeholder presentations goes a long way, which is why ProjectManager.com has reports that can be filtered to show the information stakeholders want. Reports can be created and shared with just a click, so you’re never without an answer. Report on status, tasks, plans, variance and more.
Unlimited File Storage
Projects make paperwork. Stakeholders like those business cases and want to have access to them. ProjectManager.com has unlimited file storage, so add as many project-related documents and images as you like. Everything is in one place and easy to find. Keep stakeholders happy.
ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that helps project managers manage their projects, teams and stakeholders. With planning, tracking and reporting tools, managers and teams are prepared for every project phase. See how ProjectManager.com can support you and your stakeholders with this free 30-day trial.