We talk a lot about stakeholders in project management. But do we deliberately consider each person or group who holds a stake in our project? Let’s imagine that our project is a community theater production. We might identify the director, cast, crew, and audience as key stakeholders. But our project plan also involves the theater owner, theater guild or board, ticket office, ushers, program designer, and even the play’s copyright holder. Each of these stakeholders influences our project, has an interest in its success, or both. Their interest and influence also vary greatly, so we’ll need to account for each stakeholder individually. This is where a well-structured stakeholder analysis can help.
A stakeholder analysis examines the full range of stakeholders and determines how to loop each one into the project. Use the Stakeholders Analysis template to identify, analyze, and manage your project stakeholders. List each person or group with any role in the project. Add these names to virtual sticky notes. Position these notes on the template according to each stakeholder’s influence and interest. Proactively verify their priorities and their investment during the project planning stage. Decide how you will communicate with each one as the project progresses. Which stakeholders are most important to keep satisfied? Which stakeholders need to be managed closely, kept informed, or just monitored? Create a communication schedule and assign outreach tasks.
Convert sticky notes to Jira tasks right from the template. The Whiteboards app integrates seamlessly with Jira to deliver these tasks in Jira with no extra steps. Your stakeholder communication plan is underway without ever leaving the whiteboard.
Ready to start your stakeholder analysis? Sign up for a Whiteboards account today to use the Stakeholder Analysis template. Keep reading for stakeholder analysis examples and to learn more about how your team can perform an effective analysis.
What is a stakeholder analysis?
A stakeholder analysis identifies all your stakeholders and their roles in your project. The goal is to create an effective management plan for each stakeholder. This plan guides how you communicate with stakeholders throughout all stages of the project.
In a thorough stakeholder analysis, a project manager or team will:
- identify all of the project’s internal and external stakeholders
- visualize each one in terms of their power over the project and interest in the project
- communicate with these stakeholders to determine if their buy-in matches the analysis
- make adjustments to the project as necessary based on interest levels and other feedback
- develop a tailored plan for communicating with each stakeholder throughout the project
- follow this plan to keep everyone informed and aligned through all project stages
- incorporate input from key stakeholders to continue tweaking the project as necessary
- assess the success of the project according to retrospective stakeholder feedback
In Agile management, stakeholder analysis itself is a collaborative project. Gather a team of key stakeholders around the virtual whiteboard and fill in the Stakeholders Analysis template together. Decide how you will communicate with each other and with other stakeholders to keep everyone informed and aligned.
What are the benefits of a stakeholder analysis?
Agile teams prioritize collaborative processes that benefit from bringing together many individual perspectives. But not all voices need to speak into every part of the process. Also, not all stakeholders need to be informed at every step in the process. Without a solid stakeholder communication management plan, we can end up over-communicating with certain stakeholders while missing important communications with others.
To manage time well and keep communication productive, a stakeholder analysis has your team ask a few key questions: Which individuals and groups are affected by the project? Who are all the people who will influence the project? Whose perspectives are important to which aspect of the project? When should we communicate with these stakeholders? How much information should we give them when we do?
Answering these questions up front can assist you in better managing each of your stakeholder relationships. A thorough stakeholder analysis can help you:
- clarify the investment level of various stakeholders before project launch
- incorporate valuable advice from relevant stakeholders to help the project succeed
- establish clear expectations for all stakeholders to avoid unpleasant surprises down the line
- increase buy-in and networking opportunities through proactive stakeholder engagement
- avoid communication breakdowns that lead to project delays and detours
- manage time effectively by communicating the right amount with the right people
- build trust with stakeholders through soliciting and responding to their concerns
- reflect on how to optimize stakeholder communication in future projects
A stakeholder analysis helps you learn what your stakeholders really think, feel, and want. An effective stakeholder management plan helps keep everyone invested and aligned as the project moves forward.
When should I do a stakeholder analysis?
Stakeholder analysis should be incorporated early in the project planning process. If this seems like a lot of work, remember that not every project requires a brand new stakeholder analysis! Many of your broad categories will remain the same from project to project. Do the groundwork once, and you’ll have a customized template for future stakeholder analysis sessions. Copy your populated Stakeholders Analysis template and reuse it when you start your next project. Update the specifics, then move the sticky notes to their new places on the stakeholder analysis matrix.
As noted, stakeholder analysis is generally associated with project management. However, product managers also benefit from doing a stakeholder analysis for each new product development cycle. Simply adapt the steps below to apply to the product line rather than an individual project.
How do I use the Stakeholders Analysis template?
Follow these steps to create an effective stakeholder management plan.
With your project plan in hand, add the Stakeholders Analysis template to the whiteboard. The user stories in your project plan can help you identify your various stakeholders. If you’ve already created user stories in Jira, import them to the whiteboard for quick reference. Otherwise, add the project’s user stories to virtual sticky notes and convert these to Jira issues. Native two-way Jira sync means these stories show up instantly in Jira with all their assigned attributes. Stories on the whiteboard also update if anything changes in Jira.
With your user stories in front of you, you’re ready for Step 1 of your stakeholder analysis.
1. Identify your stakeholders.
Have your team identify your project stakeholders, starting with yourselves. Your list will likely include a mix of individuals, teams, and larger groups. Consider which individuals are key players beyond the group they belong to. Then group or differentiate your stakeholders accordingly.
Here is a stakeholder analysis example checklist to get you started. Many of these categories will not apply to every business or project:
— insurance companies
— independent contractors
— industry consultants
— trade associations
— community groups
— regulatory agencies
— promoters and influencers
— design team
— development team
— sales team
— marketing team
— product team
— finance team
— board of directors
Check this list, then check your project’s user stories for any missed stakeholders. Cross-referencing helps ensure you don’t miss anyone. Add each of your identified stakeholders to a sticky note. Keep your user stories nearby on the whiteboard for use in Step 4.
2. Map your stakeholders.
Work through your identified stakeholders and place each one on the matrix according to their power and interest. You may not know the interest level of all your stakeholders yet. Position them based on the information you have. You can rearrange them as necessary during Step 3.
Here is a stakeholder analysis example, with key stakeholders as they often fall on the template:
3. Contact your stakeholders.
Now it’s time to verify how your key stakeholders actually feel about the project. Some of your stakeholders are in the stakeholder analysis meeting, and others have likely already given their input. Consider your remaining stakeholders. Decide which ones you should contact to assess their enthusiasm and contribution level.
Your outreach method and specific questions will vary depending on the stakeholder. Your goal is to measure stakeholder interest and commitment. You are also seeking valuable feedback to inform your project plan. Here are some basic questions you can adapt to fit your various stakeholders:
- What are your honest reactions to this project proposal?
- How do you envision your role in this project?
- What are your commitments to it?
- What motivates you to support or contribute to the project?
- Is there anything that makes you hesitate?
- What would make you more enthusiastic about the project?
- What other feedback do you have that might be helpful to us?
- How often would you like to receive project updates?
- How would you like to be contacted?
Use the feedback you receive to consider updates to your project plan. Reposition sticky notes to reflect what you learned about different stakeholders’ interest levels and commitments. Color code your sticky notes to reflect stakeholder attitudes. For instance, use green to designate enthusiastic supporters, orange to signify neutral parties, and red to signal critics or blockers. You may have discovered that some of your stakeholders are at odds with your plan, or with each other. Circle back to see if you can get everyone on the same page or strike a favorable compromise.
The end of Step 3 is a good time to make a copy of your completed template. There’s no need to start from scratch with each stakeholder analysis session. Many categories will likely stay the same across projects. So will their relative positions on the stakeholder matrix. Store a copy of your populated template nearby on the whiteboard before moving to Step 4.
4. Manage your stakeholders.
Now it’s time to develop a project stakeholder communication plan. Your stakeholders will fall into one of four general communication categories based on their interest and power levels:
- Manage closely: This group likely includes at least your client, the project manager, and all the team members working on the project. These stakeholders are highly invested in the project and significantly influence its success. Engage them with frequent updates and proactive requests for feedback.
- Keep satisfied: This category tends to include people such as board members, budget managers, company execs, and regulators. These stakeholders hold a lot of power, but aren’t interested in the project details. Loop them in where relevant and keep their requirements satisfied, but don’t overwhelm them with constant or lengthy updates.
- Keep informed: Industry influencers, the media, and partners usually fall in this category. These stakeholders will be excited if your project succeeds, so they are important potential promoters, but you don’t count on them to contribute to the project itself. Send them timely and exciting updates and don’t forget to invite their feedback. You never know when they’ll have a gem of valuable insight.
- Monitor: Trusted suppliers, distributors, administrators, and contractors often fall here. Their roles are important to the project’s success, but these stakeholders don’t otherwise influence the project and don’t need the details. Just send them brief updates relevant to their roles.
Make a communication plan for each of your stakeholders according to their position on the matrix and the feedback gathered in Step 3. Ask these questions about each stakeholder:
- How will you stay in touch with them?
- Who will be the communication point person?
- What’s the communication schedule?
- How can you tailor the same updates for different groups or individuals?
- How can communications be grouped, automated, or otherwise streamlined?
Perhaps you need to contact a regulatory agency or insurance company once to confirm project compliance. Maybe you want to contact customers to introduce the project and again to announce the new features launch. You may need to update other stakeholders weekly or semi-weekly.
Turn each stakeholder sticky note into a one-time or recurring communication task. Convert these tasks to Jira issues straight from the template. Attach each task to its user story and designate its Jira dependency. Schedule tasks and assign each one to its communication point person. Because the Whiteboards app integrates directly with Jira, updates on either platform sync automatically. Your tasks and user stories appear instantly in Jira, and your stakeholder communication plan is launched without ever leaving the virtual whiteboard.
The final step to managing stakeholders is engaging them in your retrospective project analysis. Run a scheduled check-in at the end of the project iteration. Find out how your key stakeholders think the project went. Assess their satisfaction level with the delivered product and with the communications they received along the way. Use this feedback to inform future stakeholder communication planning.
Let Whiteboards help you keep your stakeholders informed and engaged. Sign up for a Whiteboards account today to get an endless virtual canvas with powerful tools to assist all your team meetings. Your free account includes the Stakeholders Analysis template and over 100 other customizable templates, each with full Jira integration.
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