First, let’s define stakeholder. “Any individual, group, or institution who has a vested interest in the resources of the project area and/or who potentially will be affected by project activities and have something to gain or lose if conditions change or stay the same” (“Cross-Cutting Tool: Stakeholder Analysis,” World Wildlife Fund). A stakeholder analysis assists in identifying those individuals, groups or institutions, determining their level of influence and interest in a project, and developing communication strategies to effectively engage and inform them. It is something that should be done very early in any project, but can also be helpful to do if a project happens to change direction. Below are the benefits to conducting stakeholder analyses:
Enables you to identify everyone with a concern or interest who needs to be involved.
Ensures that stakeholders know what you are doing and can actively support the project when necessary.
Allows you to avoid barriers by engaging the right people.
Helps you to avoid conflict and associated delays caused by inadvertently failing to involve key people.
Makes it more likely that stakeholders will support your project, which will improve the quality of the project.
How to do them
With the team or committee working on the project, write down as many stakeholders as you can think of. Be inclusive; this is about who may potentially be impacted, have influence or be interested. To help, ask the following questions:
Who is or may be impacted by this project, changing the process, et cetera?
Who does or may have influence over this project, process, et cetera?
Who does or may have an interest in the project, process, et cetera having a successful (or unsuccessful) outcome?
Next, you need to put these stakeholders into categories.
High influence/Low interest: Keep satisfied
Not likely interested in the change, but can be influenced by someone or groups that are unhappy.
They are influencers (and can be influenced); it is important to keep these groups/individuals up to speed.
Do not over-communicate; you can risk boredom if too much information is pushed at them.
High influence/High interest: Manage closely
Are impacted by the change and can make it happen (or not make it happen).
Need to be engaged and supportive of the change.
Need to be kept informed.
Must fully engage and fully satisfy.
Low influence/High interest: Keep informed
Are impacted by changes so it is important to keep them informed and engaged.
May be subject matter experts, so their input can be valuable.
If they are not happy, they can derail by employing resistance to change techniques.
This group can defend the project.
Low influence/Low interest: Monitor
May be impacted, but the impact is minimal.
Do not over-communicate, but do communicate; their status may change (e.g., from low influence/low interest to low influence/high interest).
Finally, develop communication plans that allow you to appropriately inform all stakeholders of project progress. Also, provide ways to let them communicate back to you.