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Tools and Psychological Tidbits for Stakeholder Engagement

In terms of a project’s best interests, stakeholders are invariably different in influence or interest level. For all project leaders, the determination of how to handle these principals is, as you will learn later in this issue, an art form, one who’s proof of success lies in the eating of the pudding. No two taste buds are alike in one project, so you’ll have a big range of palettes to satisfy, or perhaps simply keep on the backburner as you prioritise those in need of satisfaction.

A 3x3 stakeholder matrix like this one measures both the probability and impact each stakeholder can have. There are many others as well.
A 3×3 stakeholder matrix like this one measures both the probability and impact each stakeholder can have. There are many others as well.

So how do you measure influence? Good managers of stakeholders tend to use a variety of matrices, scoping things such as influence and interest levels.

“I’ve seen and used matrices to plot stakeholder’s power/influence over the project vs. level interest in the project in order to map stakeholders in a rational and objective manner and suggest potential communication channels to keep them involved and informed with programmes and projects,” says Geri McLeary, a Birmingham-based Procurement Director who also spoke in the LinkedIn discussion. “While I’ve seen others use 4*4 matrices (and bigger) I tend to use 3*3 matrices because 2*2 matrices are too blunt a tool and because most people can understand and memorise the content of a 3*3 matrix.”

Geri adds that he has four key areas he wants to address when he uses matrices with risk register data:

  • “Who should be considered as prime candidates for programme/project board roles (usually stakeholders who have lots of power/influence over the project’s deliverables and lots of interest);”
  • “Who needs to be met regularly to update them about the project face-to-face;”
  • “Who needs to be apprised of progress regularly by way of a news sheet and/or monthly highlight report,” and;
  • “Who just needs to be apprised about project outcomes (stakeholders who do not have much in the way of power/influence over the programme’s and/or project’s deliverables or have a huge amount of interest in being closely involved in the programme or project).”

Research of relevant stakeholder matrices and tools will often turn-up numerous results. Here are a few measuring tools you may find useful:

  • The Simple Stakeholder Analysis Matrix* is usually a 4×4 matrix that measures each stakeholder’s degree of influence and importance as pertains to a project. This is a great tool at the onset of your stakeholder management tasks: you can quickly identify whose on board, who’ll need to be convinced, and who’s interest levels are where, exactly;
  • The Stakeholder Identification Matrix (.pdf) affords you the opportunity to list who the stakeholders are, how important they are in the project’s effectiveness, and give reasons why/why not;
  • The Stakeholder Perception Matrix (.pdf) is a two-for-one matrix measuring both individual groups and group clusters that have identifiable problems. The aim is to map out solutions to those problems AND the stakeholder’s anticipated responses. This one is particularly good for high-risk public relations & marketing scenarios…

If you want to learn more about stakeholder management, check out the original article from the July 2011 edition of Project Management Tipoffs, the project management & recruitment newsletter from Arras People. Subscribe to Tipoffs to receive next month’s edition free.

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About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay Scott
Director of Arras People, the programme and project management recruitment specialists. You can find out more about Arras People and follow me on Twitter and Google I also write the careers column for PMI's Network magazine and other project management organisations too. Recently created the first PMO Conference and currently running the PMO Flashmob

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