Project stakeholders are like ants in a colony. Ant colonies are like superorganisms in which queens produce workers to meet their and their siblings’ needs.
Queens tend to produce 25% fewer workers when sharing a colony with other queens. Workers easily spot selfish queens. The less fertile she is, the weaker her chemical cues, and the more likely she’ll be taken out. And as workers are almost always infertile, that typically means the end of the colony.
So stakeholders, like worker ants, can help you build a robust superorganism, or bring it all crashing down. The determining factor is how well you understand and fulfill their needs.
In fact, underdelivering for stakeholders (those who can impact or be impacted by your project) is a leading cause of project failure.
1. Only 55% of team leaders and project managers feel project objectives are clear.
2. More than 80% feel the requirements process doesn't articulate business needs.
3. Just 23% say project managers and stakeholders are aligned once the project comes to an end.
In this article, we’ll show you how to win over those who matter by walking you through six surefire stakeholder analysis techniques, with a stakeholder analysis example for each.
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Stakeholder Analysis Technique List
Technique 1: Basic Stakeholder Matrix
Quickly assess stakeholder sentiment at kick-off or at any point in the project lifecycle.
Know how stakeholders feel your project is doing against their expectations.
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Technique 2: Power vs. Interest Grid
Stakeholders may block or promote your project; they may care about what you’re doing, or not. Prioritizing stakeholders to engage will help you see where to get the greatest bang for your buck.
Know who has high or low power to impact your project, so you can classify who to manage closely, who to keep satisfied, who to keep informed, and who to simply monitor.
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Technique 3: Stakeholder Influence Diagram
Identify how stakeholders influence each other.
Know which stakeholders are the most influential and would be of the greatest value to leverage in getting others on board.
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Technique 4: Strategic Intervention Ideation
Clearly understand which stakeholders to leverage in formulating problems, searching for solutions, and qualifying political ramifications.
Know what problems you’re facing, and how to leverage stakeholders in solving them.
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Technique 5: Stakeholder Issue Interrelationship Mapping
This stakeholder mapping technique helps show who has an interest in different issues, and how they may be related to other stakeholders through their relationships with the issues.
In the stakeholder mapping above, stakeholders A, B, C, D, and F, all have an interest, or stake, in Issue 1. Subgroups of stakeholder A have a further issue between them, Issue 2. Stakeholder A is also related to stakeholder E through their joint relationship to Issue 3, and to the other stakeholders on the map through their connection with Issue 3.
Know actual and potential problem areas, with potential for cooperation or conflict pinpointed.
Technique 6: Ethical Analysis
Safeguard your organization’s longevity by operating with honesty, transparency, and accuracy, and understand how your project must operate to meet each stakeholder’s ethical requirements.
Know how your activities impact key stakeholders, including customers, communities, business associates, employees, and the government.
Stakeholder Analysis Importance
So, what is stakeholder analysis? It’s a means of assessing potential changes as they relate to those who impact or are impacted by them. And a guide to considering stakeholder perspectives at every project juncture.
And how will stakeholder analysis benefit you?
Find the most influential stakeholders early on and empower them to help structure your project. Secure their buy-in, and they’ll become your project’s greatest ambassadors. Winning them over also unlocks access to more resources – enabling your project to have an even greater effect.
Communicate early and often with targeted stakeholder communications, help them understand where you stand and how they can pitch in. Leverage your executive sponsors wherever possible.
Forecast how stakeholder groups will react to project changes to understand how best to frame transitions to keep stakeholders bought in.
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Stakeholder analysis is the equivalent of the queen understanding and fulfilling her workers’ needs, so the colony can thrive. It helps her understand who can impact, or be impacted by, her, and to what extent each worker can influence the colony. It helps her understand how well she’s doing at meeting needs, and where there are any red flag areas to get ahead of. It also helps eliminate roadblocks to winning worker support by classifying supporters, opponents, and their levels of importance. Even when she can’t fulfill a worker’s interests, knowing that those interests exist, and how to effectively engage with the worker can make the difference between life and death.
In a world where backstage politics often undermine project progression, stakeholder analysis engenders perspectives and metrics that can help you and your team sidestep barriers.
Now it’s your turn. Which of these techniques will you implement today to help safeguard your projects?
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