Stakeholder Management

Introduction

Knowing who your stakeholders are and their role within an organization is important during the presales phase of a business opportunity and during project execution. The right stakeholders will help you identify the organization’s business objectives and the project requirements. Each stakeholder has a unique role in their organization with unique expectations. Each can uniquely impact organizational change.

How do you know which stakeholder(s) that you need to communicate with? Which one is the decision-maker? Which one(s) do you need to inform about decisions and project status?

Let’s start from the beginning with some definitions and work our way to an example of a stakeholder map.

Note:    I lean heavily towards using The Open Group Architecture Framework 9.1. I will also make reference to other sources as needed.

Why identify stakeholders?

We identify stakeholders so that we can make note of their concerns, issues, and organizational cultural factors. All three must be noted during presales activities and resolved (or mitigated) during project execution. Any gaps will likely create and/or increase risks during the project execution. A risk is the possibility of an event or condition that would have a negative impact on a project. We might be missing the opportunity to identify and mitigate risks by not properly identifying stakeholders.

In enterprise architecture, we use viewpoints to represent the concerns of stakeholders.

  • A stakeholder is an individual, team, or organization (or classes thereof) with interests in, or concerns relative to, the outcome of the architecture. Different stakeholders with different roles will have different concerns.
  • A concern is an area of interest. So, system reliability might be a concern/area of interest for some stakeholders.
  • A viewpoint is a model (or description) of the information contained in a view. A view is what you see; a viewpoint is where you are looking from — the vantage point or perspective that determines what you see.
  • A view is the representation of a related set of concerns. A view is what is seen from a viewpoint. An architecture view may be represented by a model to demonstrate to stakeholders their areas of interest in the architecture. A view does not have to be visual or graphical in nature.

I won’t get into the details of how to create views and viewpoints for enterprise architecture here. However, we must identify stakeholders so that we can represent their concerns.

Who is a stakeholder?

Consider the business opportunity and/or the project. Now think of anyone who is affected by it or who has influence and/or power over it or has interest in its successful or unsuccessful conclusion. The obvious thing to do is to look at the organizational chart and pick out the applicable executives, line   managers, project managers, partners, suppliers, clients, etc. Also, consider that some stakeholders are represented by one person and others are represented by an organization (or group of persons). However, you should identify a person who can represent a group.

You can find a list of sample stakeholders in the TOGAF 9.1 standard. You can also find a comprehensive list of 105 stakeholders here https://www.stakeholdermap.com/stakeholder-list.html. The site also includes industry-specific stakeholder lists. Of course, I am interested in the ITIL and the IT project stakeholder lists.

How can stakeholders be identified?

Well, we can start with a list and put some contact information beside it. We can ask questions of these stakeholders to identify additional stakeholders (see TOGAF 9.1 standard).

  • Whoever is paying is definitely a stakeholder.
  • Who gains and who loses from this change? (“everyone” is not an acceptable answer)
  • Who controls change management of processes?
  • Who designs new systems?
  • Who will make the decisions?
  • Who procures IT systems and who decides what to buy?
  • Who controls resources?
  • Who has specialist skills the project needs?
  • Who has influence?

How can stakeholders be classified?

I think this is a critical step in the process. This step will provide the reasoning for where we place stakeholders on the power grid.

Thus, we can take the stakeholder list and contact information and place it into a table like the one below. We can place stakeholders in groups. Later we can use these groups for creating viewpoints.

We also categorize the stakeholders in the six remaining columns.

Category Description and Values
Ability to Disrupt Change Some change we create; some change is created by other people and events.

H = can create change in the organization

M = can create change in parts of the organization

L = can create limited change in parts of the organization

Current Understanding What level of understanding does this person have of the project?

H = understands the value and expected outcomes. Can see how it meets the organization’s strategic objectives.

M = has some understanding of the value and expected outcomes. May see how it meets the organization’s strategic objectives; but likely only understands how their own objectives are met.

L = has limited understanding of the value and expected outcomes. May only understand how some of their own objectives are met.

Required Understanding What level of understanding should this person have of the project in order to guarantee a successful outcome?

H = understands the value and expected outcomes. Can see how it meets the organization’s strategic objectives.

M = has some understanding of the value and expected outcomes. May see how it meets the organization’s strategic objectives; but likely only understands how their own objectives are met.

L = has limited understanding of the value and expected outcomes. May only understand how some of their own objectives are met.

Current Commitment What level of commitment does this person have of the project?

H = Committed to the successful outcome of the project

M = Sees this has one of many projects that require some level of commitment. Will try to help the project based on priorities at the time.

L = The successful outcome of this project is a low priority.

Required Commitment What level of commitment should this person have of the project in order to guarantee a successful outcome?

H = Committed to the successful outcome of the project

M = Sees this has one of many projects that require some level of commitment. Will try to help the project based on priorities at the time.

L = The successful outcome of this project is a low priority.

Required Support TOGAF 9.1 uses this column; but I do not what value it brings.

The table below provides an example of stakeholder information that can be used to create a stakeholder power grid. A stakeholder (e.g. John Smith) with a high ability to disrupt change has a high power rating. However, their level of interest should be high if they require a high understanding and / or high commitment. You will have to ask some questions of each stakeholder and rate (H, M, L) their response.

See Step 3 on mindtools blog post for a set of excellent questions to ask. Here are some examples.

  • What financial or emotional interest do they have in the outcome of your work? Is it positive or negative?
  • What motivates them most of all?
Stakeholder Group Stakeholder Ability to Disrupt Change Current Under-standing Required Under-standing Current Commit-ment Required Commit-ment
CIO John Smith

H

M H L

M

CFO Jeff Brown

M

M M L

M

You can perform a gap analysis on this table. For example, a gap in understanding exists when a stakeholder (e.g. John Smith) has a M rating for Current; but requires a H rating. Thus, you need to fill that gap! However, the importance of filling that gap can be determined by reviewing their Ability to Disrupt Change. In this example, John Smith has a H rating for Disrupt Change. I would consider it a high priority to fill the understanding gap. In addition, there is a gap between Current Commitment (L) and Required Commitment (M). Thus, it appears as though we do not have the required level of commitment from John Smith. We need to do more communication with John Smith!

Stakeholder power grid matrix

Our challenge is that we many have many stakeholders identified for large opportunities. A power grid matrix is recommended for presenting a high level overview of our stakeholders. The matrix places stakeholders relative to each other using Power and Interest.

My concern with using a power grid matrix is that the values are different than the ones I used in the table above. Thus, I recommend using Ability to Disrupt Change in place of Power. Also, I am not concerned so much about a stakeholder’s Interest as I am about their Required Understanding and Required Commitment. I recommend using these two factors for determining the Required Interest.

powergrid01

Adapted from Mendelow, A.L. (1981). ‘Environmental Scanning – The Impact of the Stakeholder Concept,’ ICIS 1981 Proceedings, 20.

I adapted content from a blog post on mindtools website to show the power grid matrix above with additional explanation. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_07.htm

  Low Required Interest High Required Interest
High Power Keep Satisfied

Put enough work in with these people to keep them satisfied, but not so much that they become bored with your message.

Manage Closely

You must fully engage these people, and make the greatest efforts to satisfy them.

Low Power Monitor

Monitor these people, but don’t bore them with excessive communication.

Keep Informed

Adequately inform these people, and talk to them to ensure that no major issues are arising. People in this category can often be very helpful with the detail of your project.

I put John Smith on the power grid matrix. I placed him in the Manage Closely quadrant. I used the free Interactive Screen App on mindtools website. I renamed the Y-axis to Required Interest. I can add more stakeholders to the matrix.

powergrid02

Now I can see what level of communication is required with stakeholders for a successful outcome. Of course, I still need to define how that communication is executed in a communication plan.

You can see additional examples of stakeholder matrices here https://www.stakeholdermap.com/stakeholder-matrix.html

  • Business Process Management Stakeholder Matrix
  • Stakeholder Influence Grid
  • Power and Support Stakeholder Analysis
  • Power and Interest grid
  • Support and Importance stakeholder matrix
  • Influence and Interest stakeholder matrix
  • Attitude and Knowledge stakeholder map

You may want to consider using more than one matrix to represent your stakeholders.

Stakeholder Map

We have collected a lot of information about stakeholders. We need to organize it so that it is useful. TOGAF 9.1 provides an example stakeholder map. The stakeholder map lists:

  • the stakeholders that were identified earlier
  • the key concerns from stakeholder interviews
  • the class from the power grid matrix
  • the artifacts that must be created to represent the stakeholder viewpoints

You can customize the map to suite your purposes, too.

Stakeholder (via identification) Key Concerns (from stakeholder interviews) Class (from power grid matrix) Artifacts to Create for Viewpoints (e.g. Catalogs, Matrices, and Diagrams)
CxO

(Corporate

Functions);

e.g., CEO, CFO,

CIO, COO

The high-level drivers, goals, and objectives of the organization, and how these are translated into an effective process and IT architecture to advance the business. KEEP SATISFIED Business Footprint diagram

Goal/Objective/

Service diagram

Organization Decomposition diagram

Program

Management Office

(Corporate

Functions);

e.g., Project

Portfolio Managers

Prioritizing, funding, and aligning change activity. An understanding of project content and technical dependencies between projects supports portfolio management decision making. KEEP SATISFIED Requirements catalog

Project Context diagram

Benefits diagram

Business Footprint diagram

Application Communication diagram

Functional Decomposition diagram

 

Conclusion

In this blog post, we:

  • Explained why we identify stakeholders
  • Defined who a stakeholder is
  • Described how to identify stakeholders
  • Described how to classify stakeholders
  • Created a power grid matrix
  • Created a stakeholder map.

The stakeholder map provides a summary of the stakeholder information that was collected in the previous steps. It provides us with the understanding we need of the stakeholders for a successful outcome of our business opportunity and/or project execution.