The process of creating a visual representation of the numerous people involved in or impacted by the project is a straightforward definition of stakeholder mapping. Stakeholder maps are created to make it easier to assess your surroundings by showing the forces that can advance or impede your project.
Stakeholder mapping is crucial when assessing the influence and involvement of project stakeholders. Your project’s success will be impacted by how you categorize and manage stakeholders, and a good stakeholder map will help you avoid roadblocks more successfully. In this, stakeholders are grouped based on their influence, interest, power, urgency, legitimacy and many other similarities. Stakeholder maps are an essential part of analyzing the stakeholders.
Characteristics of Stakeholder maps
Stakeholder maps can have several shapes and formats, but they must always be:
- Simple to understand, as their intention is to use it as a quick decision-making aid.
- Organized into groups based on the type, shared interests, and amount of impact of the various stakeholders.
- Comprehensive, as only a thorough review of the key stakeholders can provide useful information.
Categorization of Stakeholders
Stakeholders includes a wide variety of very diverse individuals and organizations. The majority are divided into two categories: internal stakeholders and external stakeholders.
This group consists of your company’s general management and the project team. They are all the individuals who have a role in the project and influence decisions or project resources within your organization. Internal stakeholders usually include project sponsors, project managers, team members, high level executives, etc. However, project sponsors can also be external shareholders if they’re a client or third-party actors.
These include all third parties that the project may target or whose members may be harmed. They also comprise all individuals who can affect how your project develops or turns out. External stakeholders usually include customers or end-users, suppliers, local authorities, suppliers, government authorities etc.
Benefits of Stakeholder Mapping
Stakeholder mapping is an integral part of stakeholders analysis. Stakeholder maps can have a huge impact on the organizational from functional to strategic level. Some of the benefits of stakeholder mapping are:
- Stakeholder mapping forms a foundation for stakeholder analysis and related strategies. It provides the structure to stakeholder engagement and participation strategies.
- As discussed earlier, this helps in categorization of stakeholders. Not all the stakeholders have the similar interest, hence, it is essential for organizations to cater to them as per their need and importance. For this, organizations must remain clear about stakeholders and their position.
- Along with categorization, stakeholder mapping clarifies regarding the relevance of the stakeholders. Not all the stakeholders are relevant to the activities at the same time. Such maps provide a clear idea of who needs to be considered to what extent.
- Such maps help organizations to allocate the resources that need to be allotted to or during any stakeholder related strategies. Resource allocation is important during budget planning.
- Understanding stakeholders relevance and categorizing stakeholders help in conflict resolution. Stakeholder mapping shows the differences in the stakeholders and alarms the organization about the potential conflicts beforehand. Such tools identify the risk associated with the stakeholder and identify the cause and solve the problem in advance.
- Stakeholder mapping protects the interest of stakeholder groups. Interest of stakeholder is communicated well in the organization and organization works for the interest of maximizing the interest of the stakeholder.
Stakeholder Mapping Process
There are 4 main key steps involved in stakeholder mapping. We’ll be discussing these steps, in detail, below.
Step 1: Identify
The focus of this step is to identify your stakeholders by brainstorming. The senior management, department supervisors, and team members could be external or internal (your clients, their extended team, end-users). A project may include a number of stakeholders, and the number relies entirely on your business and the goals of the project. The list might even need to be updated as the project develops. It’s even recommended to ask the following questions while identifying your key stakeholders;
- Who has the most influence (on the project)?
- Who will be impacted the most?
- Who has ownership over resources needed to carry the project?
- Who has higher financial stake or interest?
- Who is important to the project, but not a central stakeholder?
Step 2: Analyze
This entails assessing each stakeholder’s relevance to the project and identifying their responsibilities. Some stakeholders may have a greater influence on the project than others; not all stakeholders are created equal. By using a logical method, this can be evaluated in the best way possible. Generally, you can use a matrix to map out the stakeholders in accordance with their level of contribution to the project, their level of influence and involvement, and their willingness to participate.
Step 3: Prioritize
To get buy-in from the important individuals you’ve identified, you must successfully communicate with them. A stakeholder matrix can be used to arrange everything and decide what steps need to be taken, such as managing closely (high influence and high interest), informing frequently (low influence but high interest), keeping satisfied (high influence but low interest), monitoring, and anticipating needs (low influence and low interest). You need to keep stakeholders informed and involved based on the interest and influence they have. A stakeholder with limited interest, though, wouldn’t require as much information or involvement.
Step 4: Engage
You can develop a communication plan for including stakeholders in the project after gathering all the information you need to date. Determine each important stakeholder’s influence, motivation, and priority using all the information and insights you have obtained. Determine who your strongest allies are and who your biggest opponents or doubters are.
Importance of Stakeholder Mapping
Now that we’ve figured out the process of performing stakeholder mapping, it’s time to focus on its importance. They are as follows;
Categorizes the stakeholders
Stakeholder mapping has many advantages, one of which is classification. You may have several stakeholders, and you may have previously treated each one as a distinct organization. However, you can group them according to similarity by creating a stakeholder map. Then, you can establish channels of communication for every category and expedite subsequent communications.
Guides your communication plan
You can identify your stakeholders, their interests, and their importance when you have a stakeholder map in hand. Therefore, you can base your communication strategy on this. For instance, parties involved in the project who have a big stake in it can require thorough and frequent updates. Conversely, stakeholders with less interest may on occasion obtain summaries.
Helps in prioritizing stakeholders
Resources are scarce on every project, and connecting with your stakeholders will probably use some of them. Engagement with those stakeholders who can have the biggest impact on your project should therefore be given priority. You may determine how important each stakeholder is to the project by outlining each one along with the group to which they belong. This helps in determining the degree of priority of any stakeholder.
Gives alert about potential conflicts
Unfortunately, there may be disagreements among the interested parties over certain project elements, and a dispute is likely to result. However, by mapping your stakeholders, you can find potential points of conflict and put safeguards in place to reduce interruptions.
Increase buy-in from stakeholders
Without a doubt, stakeholders have a significant impact on the success of your initiatives, and without them, your venture is far more likely to fail. This is why it’s crucial to secure stakeholder support in any way you can. The buy-in from your stakeholders is likely to rise if you map them out before you begin working on a project. It’s an easy approach to guarantee that your stakeholder involvement is successful.
Stakeholder mapping is a risk management tool. Keeping the stakeholders satisfied and fulfilling their needs will lessen the likelihood that your project will fail. Using an online project management tool is one technique to keep stakeholders updated on the project’s status.
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