A stakeholder analysis is a process that helps identify, prioritize, and understand your stakeholders. Understanding your stakeholders can help you develop strategies that will work seamlessly with them as the project develops.

It can also help you predict their reactions and actions as they develop, which is critical for getting approvals when needed. Keep reading to learn more about forming strategic partnerships and how to skillfully manage this critical business practice. 

What is stakeholder analysis?

When it comes to a project, all the people and teams affected by its outcome are called its stakeholders. A project stakeholder analysis involves identifying these individuals and groups and how to engage them throughout the project. 

By approaching key players early in your project, you will be able to leverage their knowledge and expertise to guide the project to a successful conclusion. Your stakeholder analysis will help identify the people involved in the project and communicate your goals and plans.

Without a stakeholder analysis, you could be well into a project before realizing how a key person in your organization values your initiative. This person could reject motions or have alternative ideas for how or what should be accomplished. Doing an analysis right at the beginning can improve communication and resolve potential issues later on. 

Most stakeholder analyses are conducted by different teams or companies. They can also vary depending on the industry and the complexity of the task.  

There are many types of stakeholder analysis exercises that organizations can do. These include product management, enterprise project management, and organizational development.

Why is stakeholder analysis important?

By gaining the support of powerful individuals, you can improve your chances of succeeding in projects. And if you’re not already familiar with the way your stakeholders think, then a stakeholder analysis is an absolute must. 

Not only will conducting a stakeholder analysis make it easier to understand and forecast their needs, but it will also make it easier to communicate with them in a way they prefer throughout the project’s lifetime. This analysis will also help you spot competing interests, navigate potential roadblocks, and make sure that everyone involved is satisfied with the project outcome. 

How to create a stakeholder matrix and map

You can map out your stakeholders' power over your work and their interest using a power-interest grid. The power-interest grid is a conceptual framework that considers the interests of various stakeholder groups. It can be used to identify the potential influence of these groups on the system. Here’s how to create a stakeholder map.

  1. List potential stakeholders
    Brainstorm the people who are most affected by your work. This may include:
    • Clients
    • Senior managers
    • Partners
    • Suppliers
    • Vendors
    • Shareholders
    • Lenders
    • Analysts
    • Press
    • Potential customers
      • Not sure who’s who? Add their name and title to a chart, then note how they may be affected by the project. You may also have a list of individuals and organizations that you are working with that have the power to affect your work. This step works by considering their power, influence, and interests in the project. After you identify your stakeholders, you can create a strategy to win their support.

  2. Rank by power

    Some stakeholders hold more weight than others. Prioritize individuals or groups by how much they’ve invested in the project or what the project means to them. The position that you assign to a stakeholder shows the actions that you need to take with them in the future. 

  3. Strategize by interest

    For example, a highly ranked stakeholder group may need to be hands-on or receive a daily update. These are often referred to highly informed people. Your goal is to keep them calm. Talk to them about the project and make sure that they are not worried about any issues.

On the other hand, if a stakeholder is at the bottom of the ranking, they may just want the highlights of the project once deliverables are drafted. These secondary stakeholders simply need monitoring and to have their questions (if any) answered. Their hands-off approach makes overloading them with communication counterproductive. 

How to conduct a stakeholder analysis

As your work and projects become more important, you will affect more and more people.

This process helps identify and win the support of your key stakeholders.

Step 1: Research

You need to find out how each stakeholder feels about the project. This is where you can start to work out how to engage them. Informational interviews or a simple email works well for this step. 

You can also ask questions to get a better understanding of your stakeholders. They'll provide valuable insight into how your work is being perceived by them.

Step 2: Define

After you’ve identified the people and teams that will be key players in your project, it is time to start defining their roles and responsibilities. Stakeholders are often put into one of the following four self-explanatory groups: 

  • High power and high interest
  • High power and low interest
  • Low power and high interest
  • Low power and low interest

Step 3: Communicate

Plan out how you’ll communicate with members of each group. Include what medium you’ll use to reach them, such as weekly check-in calls or email updates. Also, make a note of how frequently you’ll check in. Communication strategies set early on make a big impact on the outcome.

stakeholders from sales department

Step 4: Influence

The goal of this step is to understand what motivates them and how you can win their approval. If they aren't likely to be positive, ask yourself how you will win them over. If they do turn out to be negative, make a plan for how you will manage their objections. 

Step 5: Organize

To summarize your supporters' backing, color-code them. For example, show supporters in green, blockers in red, and neutrals in orange.

Stakeholder analysis example

There are a few different ways to conduct a stakeholder analysis. But the most popular and streamlined one is with a simple graph.

On the X-axis, put Interest going from low to high. On the Y-axis, put Power going from low to high. Then, divide the graph into four quadrants representing the four main sections: Low Low, Low High, High Low, and High High.

The graph will determine what level of communication you provide for each person or group based on the stakeholder information.

How to use Wrike as your stakeholder analysis tool

Wrike is a work management tool that makes it easy to manage relationships. Use Wrike’s graph feature to create your own stakeholder analysis tool.

After you have your relationship communication plan in place, give high-power and high-interest stakeholders access to their own personalized and transparent view of the project plan. You can also give approval power and regular updates with custom reporting right within Wrike. 

Ready to create your own stakeholder management plan? Start your two-week free trial today.