As teams within larger organizations become more empowered to make decisions and drive innovation, documentation and generating buy-in take on increasingly important roles. This is where a stakeholder analysis comes into play.
With proper documentation, it’s possible to effectively communicate thought processes, plans, and analyses in both directions (whether asynchronously or in real time), ensuring that leadership understands the reasoning behind new product or feature development, as do the employees tasked with carrying out the individual tasks.
Creating a clear representation of your rationale for a given approach is a crucial component of creating alignment and fostering an environment of transparency. When developing new products or building new features, it's important to consider who will be involved, who will be affected, and to what extent.
In this guide, we'll answer some common questions about stakeholder mapping, including what it is, why it's important, when you need one, and what types of stakeholders you should include.
Let’s get started.
What is stakeholder mapping?
Stakeholder mapping is the process of identifying key stakeholders (i.e. individuals or groups with a vested interest in your product or project) and understanding their relationships with each other. This helps you to develop an informed strategy for managing stakeholders throughout the product development process.
By creating a stakeholder map, you’ll be able to consider not only all the stages of development for your product, but also how each one of those stages specifically relates to the people on your team, in your organization, or even beyond your company.
Why is stakeholder mapping important?
It’s important to map your stakeholders because it helps you understand who they are, what they want, and how they should be involved during the product development process. This information can be used to develop a communication and engagement plan that meets everyone’s needs.
By aligning stakeholders with their respective roles and responsibilities, organizations can create a framework for stakeholder engagement that is both effective and efficient. Additionally, stakeholder mapping can help to identify potential areas of conflict and misunderstanding, allowing organizations to address these issues before they become major problems.
Ultimately, stakeholder mapping is a valuable tool that can help organizations to improve stakeholder communication and boost team alignment.
When do I need a stakeholder map?
You might need a stakeholder map if you're working on a new product or feature that will impact multiple groups within your organization.
For example, if you're developing a new employee portal, you'll need to map out the relationships between HR or People Operations, IT, and the employees who will be using the portal.
What are the types of stakeholders?
There are four main types of stakeholders: primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary:
- Primary stakeholders are those who have a direct impact on the product or project (e.g. employees, customers).
- Secondary stakeholders are those who have an indirect impact on the product or project (e.g. shareholders).
- Tertiary stakeholders are those who have a potential impact on the product or project (e.g. industry experts).
- Quaternary stakeholders are those who have no direct impact on the product or project but may be interested in its success or failure (e.g. media).
It's important to consider all four types of stakeholders when developing your map; however, primary and secondary stakeholders should be given special attention as they have the most direct impact on your product or project.
How do you map the relationships between stakeholders?
Once you've identified all of your potential stakeholders, it's time to start mapping out their relationships with each other. There are two main ways to do this: by using a grid system or by creating a network diagram. Keep reading two templates you can use to create each stakeholder analysis.
Grid stakeholder map
A grid system is best for large projects with many stakeholders; it allows you to see all of the relationships at a glance and identify any potential conflicts early on in the process.
A network diagram is best for smaller projects with fewer stakeholders; it provides a more detailed look at how each stakeholder interacts with others and how they might be impacted by changes throughout the process.
Stakeholder analysis examples
Below is a template for stakeholder mapping, with three key components:
- An area for brainstorming who your stakeholders are
- An interest vs. influence matrix that allows you to plot all your stakeholders across four quadrants: Monitor, Actively Engaged, Keep Informed, and Keep Satisfied
- A visual of your stakeholder map, with the new product or feature at the center and the various levels of stakeholders radiating outward from the middle
What are the steps needed to create a stakeholder map?
1. Define the purpose of the stakeholder map.
The first step in creating a stakeholder map is to define the purpose of the map. Are you creating a new product or feature? Are you preparing to enter a new market or niche within your existing market? What information do you want to include? Once you have a clear idea of the purpose of the map, you can move on to the next step.
2. Brainstorm and identify who your stakeholders are.
The next step is to identify who your stakeholders are, which means it’s time to brainstorm with your team. A stakeholder is any individual or group that has an interest in your project or organization. When identifying your stakeholders, it is important to think carefully about everyone potentially involved, at every stage of the process — and that means both internal and external stakeholders.
(NB: Internal stakeholders are individuals or groups within your organization, while external stakeholders are those outside of your organization.)
3. Determine what level of involvement each stakeholder has.
Once you have identified your stakeholders, you need to determine what level of involvement each one has, and at what stages of the project. There are three levels of involvement: high, medium, and low.
- High-involvement stakeholders are those who have a significant interest in your project or organization and who could be significantly impacted by its success or failure.
- Medium-involvement stakeholders are those who have some interest in your project or organization but who are not as invested as high-involvement stakeholders.
- Low-involvement stakeholders are those who have little interest in your project or organization and who are not likely to be affected by its success or failure.
For example, in this Mural stakeholder mapping template built by the LUMA Institute, we use the radar approach to map not only the level of involvement but also the connection between stakeholders.
Think carefully about which buckets each stakeholder belongs in, keeping in mind that high-involvement stakeholders may be external to your organization, while low-involvement stakeholders may be your colleagues, depending on the nature of the project.
4. Identify each stakeholder's interests and goals.
The next step is to identify each stakeholder's interests and goals. What does each stakeholder stand to gain from your project? What are their goals? What are their main concerns or issues that could get in the way?
Once you have identified these areas of interest and specific goals, you can begin to think about how best to engage with each stakeholder.
5. Develop an engagement plan.
The final step is to develop a plan for engagement. How will you engage with each stakeholder as you develop your map and begin your project? What communication channels will you use? What type of information will you share? Once you have developed an engagement plan, you can begin implementing it and working towards achieving your goals.
Stakeholder mapping is an essential tool for any Scrum master, Agile coach, consultant, or project leader looking to foster high-impact innovation and ensure successful execution of their product development plans. By taking the time to map out all of your stakeholders and their relationships with each other, you can create a communication and engagement plan that meets everyone's needs, ensuring smooth sailing from start to finish!
Stakeholder mapping steps:
- Define the purpose of your stakeholder map — what belongs in the center?
- Brainstorm to build your list of stakeholders
- Determine each stakeholder’s level of involvement
- Determine each stakeholder’s interests and goals
- Build an engagement plan based on stakeholder personas
Get started with one of Mural's free templates that drive empathy and understanding, included with any Free Forever account, and invite unlimited members so that everyone on your team can participate.
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