Apr 1, 2022 Project Management

Guide to Stakeholder Mapping

Guide to Stakeholder Mapping

Stakeholder mapping is an important term when it comes to handling different types of stakeholders and their influence on your project. Once you have successfully implemented a stakeholder map, you will easily bypass obstacles and navigate your way around potential problems.

Depending on your business size, you must be able to evaluate stakeholders' potential impact and risks linked to their projects. That's why everyone within an organization should know their place and what's expected of them.

In this article, we will guide you through how to create a stakeholder map and keep everyone in the loop. 

Stakeholder mapping: the definition

As the word mapping implies, this is a visual process of putting all the stakeholders of a project, product, or idea on a single map. One of the most significant benefits of this map is the visual representation you get. You can see everyone involved in a project and how they are connected in one place.

People commonly mistake stakeholders for shareholders. Even though shareholders own part of the company and are invested in its performance, they aren't part of every project or product launched.

On the other hand, stakeholders are usually interested in the product or project's performance because it affects the company's stock performance. We should mention that the stakeholder map defines their relationship to the projects, the level of interest from top to bottom, and the level of influence from low to high.

This map will help you evaluate your environment by highlighting what plays a crucial role in supporting or obstructing the project's progress.

What should a stakeholder map include?

We will provide you with a stakeholder mapping example and focus on a couple of crucial things this visualization should include.

There are four ways to handle communication with stakeholders. You should keep them close, satisfied, informed, and monitor them.

For instance, if a stakeholder has a high level of influence in the project but does not have the same level of interest, you need to keep them satisfied. This means they should receive regular updates, while their feedback is equally important.

On the other hand, a stakeholder with a high level of interest and a high level of influence needs to be managed closely. In this case, you need to meet them more often than other group members while they are kept in the "satisfied" category. Their feedback is vital to any decision-making.

Stakeholders who have a lower influence but higher interest are your customer base. They require progress updates as well, but not that frequently. Stakeholders assume these positions need monitoring, but you should inform them only when some significant shifts in a project happen.

When we sum things up, the stakeholder map has two axes, the vertical axis or level of influence, and the horizontal axis of the level of interest, with four quadrants, monitor, keep satisfied, keep informed, and manage closely.

The purpose of stakeholder mapping

Stakeholder mapping is a crucial step in stakeholder management because it provides insight into your project and ensures everything runs smoothly. There are a couple of benefits of using a stakeholder map that you shouldn't overlook.

Firstly, this visualization helps you identify key players. Therefore, you will know who to inform, monitor, or target at each project stage.

Moving on, you will be able to make quick decisions and hold meaningful consultations without neglecting important stakeholders.

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And lastly, with the help of stakeholder mapping, you will evaluate the power and understand each stakeholder's interest, to define communication plans and strategies.

Stakeholder mapping also brings a couple of benefits, which are essential when planning a launch of a new service or product, implementing new advertisement strategies, or doing market research.

On top of everything, this map helps you understand who has more resources on a project and who has more restraints so that you can include the right people on your team. Overall, with the stakeholder map, you will have an overview of who you are trying to satisfy when building a project or a product.

The steps to stakeholder mapping

Stakeholder mapping involves a couple of steps. It's a collection of discussion, debate, and research that allows you to draw multiple perspectives to determine crucial stakeholders across their entire spectrum.

We will breakdown mapping into four steps:

  1. Identifying: listing essential people, organizations, and groups.
  2. Analyzing: understanding stakeholders' interests and perspectives.
  3. Mapping: visualizing the connection between objectives and other stakeholders.
  4. Prioritizing: identifying issues and ranking stakeholders' relevance.

Keep in mind that stakeholder mapping heavily relies on people's knowledge in the project. If you want to ensure the success of your project, make sure to involve a cross-functional group of participants. Also, you can identify external resources which may provide a relevant perspective or an idea on the issue and reach out to them for input.

Creating a stakeholder map

If you wish to create a stakeholder chart, be aware that it involves four previously mentioned steps. This section will only broaden your knowledge on these and explain in detail how to create a stakeholder map.

Identify stakeholders. One project may include numerous stakeholders. Their number will mostly depend on your organization, project objectives, and impact. As your project moves along, you might have to revise the list to decrease or increase the number of stakeholders.

Analyze stakeholders. It helps you understand how relevant stakeholders are to your project and what perspective they can bring. Make sure to define the type of stakeholders, how much they can contribute to a project, and how legitimate they are. Also, are they willing to actively participate, and how much involvement and influence in a project they might have?

Map stakeholders. Create a personalized box and divide it into four quadrants at this stage. It should contain the y-axis – the level of influence from bottom to top and the x-axis – the level of interest, left to right. Using the list of stakeholders and analysis you've made, plot them based on these axes.

Prioritize stakeholders. The last step in this process involves engaging and managing stakeholders throughout the project. Depending on where they end up on your map, you will either have to manage them closely or just monitor them. This is where your shareholder management starts.

What does stakeholder mapping look like?

Stakeholder maps may have different forms and shapes, but they all have the following things in common:

  • Easy to read: they are designed as a tool for quick decision-making.
  • Detailed: only a complete overview of important stakeholders can offer valuable information.
  • Organized: stakeholder maps are organized into groups and are based on the level of influence, common interests, and nature of different stakeholders.
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