Stakeholder Management: How to Know Which Ones Matter

Project stakeholders–individuals, groups, and organizations– may be impacted by or may have an impact on your projects. It’s critical to understand how people inside and outside your organization may affect your projects. Let’s explore stakeholder management power tools that can help you quickly identify which stakeholders matter.

group of stake holders around computer

Why Analyze Project Stakeholders

Some project managers say they don’t have enough time to analyze the stakeholders. So, why is it important? The short answer is to determine how to spend the limited time project managers do have.

Stakeholders are not the same. Their power, interest, influence, expectations, and impact differ greatly. Consequently, it’s important to identify the most influential stakeholders.

Once the key stakeholders are determined, it’s time to develop communication plans that engage and influence them at the right times during the project. Project managers who do this possess the information needed to navigate stakeholder-related threats and build powerful partnerships with the people of high interest and influence. 

[callout]FREE Stakeholder Register. Not sure of where to start with capturing stakeholders? Click here to grab a free stakeholder management register template (along with several other project management templates).[/callout]

Power Tools

How do you analyze stakeholders? There are several tools that project managers can use, and the good news is these tools are simple, yet powerful. In light of that, The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) offers the following:

  • Power/interest grid — This means to rate each stakeholder based on their level of power and interest in the project.
  • Power/influence grid — This is done to analyze each stakeholder based on their level of power, influence and active involvement.
  • Influence/impact grid — This is a rating for each stakeholder, based on their level of involvement and potential impact on the project objectives.  This can be done during the planning and execution of the project.
  • Salience model — This is done in order to categorize the stakeholders on three levels:
    • Power — ability exert their authority;
    • Urgency — need for immediate attention;
    • Legitimacy — determination of whether the stakeholder’s involvement is appropriate.

How Do People Feel About Your Project

Similarly, there is an additional technique called the stakeholder engagement assessment matrix. I know…that’s a mouthful, huh? C = current engagement. D = desired engagement.

Bill MonroeCD
Customer Support TeamC, D
Doc WatsonCD
Alison KraussCD

Once this assessment has been completed, it’s time to develop plans to engage the unaware, resistant, and neutral stakeholders and influence them toward the desired engagement–supportive or leading. Bear in the mind, the project manager does not have to do the engagement alone. It’s a good idea to involve your sponsor, team members, and the peers who can help achieve the desired outcomes. 

Where to Store Your Analysis

Project managers can capture the results of your analysis in the stakeholder register. Don’t know what to put in your register or how to create one? Click here to see how to develop a stakeholder management register.

Question: What other tools and techniques do you use to analyze stakeholders?

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