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How to Analyze, Map, and Engage Stakeholders

Stakeholder management is essential for any successful project.

Understanding your stakeholders leads to better strategies, decisions, and acceptance of change within an organization. Stakeholder analysis is an effective approach to mapping out and understanding key stakeholders for any type of initiative from solution selling to internal change initiatives (e.g. using a force field analysis map). It’s where you identify and analyze stakeholders to plan for their effective engagement throughout the project.

Stakeholders include anyone with a vested interest in the project, whether they are actively participating, supplying resources or being impacted by it. Ensuring that these various groups are supportive, committed, or engaged is something that needs to be planned and managed. The planning starts with stakeholder analysis and then mapping their relationship to the project, and finishes with defining your communication plan (how and what to communicate and the frequency of communications).

Identify Stakeholders

The key to stakeholder analysis is to first identify and then understand the different groups that are touched by the project. These groups include senior management, business partners, customers, and the people who ultimately use the solution.

Step one is to brainstorm and build a map of potential stakeholders. Organize your map with branches to represent groups and topics within each branch to track individual stakeholders.

Understand Stakeholder Needs and Interests

For each stakeholder, you’ll want to note their department, role, as well as location. Other factors to track are:

  • Who are the key opinion leaders within their groups?
  • What are the relationships between the groups and individuals?
  • What is their perceived benefit [if any] of the project?
  • What is their motivation for contributing to or supporting the project?
  • What are the barriers to this group participating?

Map and Analyze Stakeholders

Take advantage of icon and text markers to categorize and tag stakeholders with key characteristics. Once tagged with markers, use the power filter to review stakeholders for a various perspectives (e.g. view stakeholders that do not support the project, view stakeholders that support the project but have competing initiatives, etc…).

There are several models that can be applied with markers to facilitate your analysis. An example would be Gardner’s Power / Interest matrix. With text markers, you can track stakeholder the level (e.g. high / low) of power and interest for each stakeholder. Stakeholders with low interest and power require less effort and communication than stakeholders with high power and interest.

Once you have gathered the necessary information to understand your stakeholder environment, you’ll need to develop strategies to generate interest and build support for the initiative. Use map markers and filters to quickly identify the key players that need the most care and attention, the ones that you need to keep informed and the others that you need to keep satisfied.

Key Points

In order to increase the likelihood of success for your projects, it is critical to gain the support of your organization’s internal and external stakeholders. Some of these people have the power to undermine your work while others may be strong supporters.

Use your stakeholder map to identify, categorize, and prioritize stakeholders to develop the appropriate strategies and communications to win their support.

Download this FREE MindManager template to get started today. Note that the map markers have been customized and queries have been saved with the map. These can be further customized to match your own process.

How else do you map out and develop stakeholder strategies?

About the Author: Michael Deutch is Mindjet’s Chief Evangelist, content contributor for the Mindjet Blog and the Mindjet Connections newsletter. Get more from Michael on Twitter.

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