Stakeholder management includes identifying, documenting, verifying, and analyzing all of the people who will be impacted by a product, service, or process. Effective stakeholder identification involves uncovering as much detail as possible from various sources about potential stakeholders. Some of the sources to acquire this information include:
- Obtain feedback from the project sponsor
- Review existing project documentation
- Research stakeholders identified in similar projects
- Interview subject matter experts and core project team members
- Define larger functional areas that will be impacted, followed by individual stakeholders
Lastly, the stakeholder list should be analyzed by determining the level of support for or against the project, the level of influence, as well as the degree that the project will impact each stakeholder. Support, influence, and impact are the three factors that make up the Brown Stakeholder Assessment Model™. Within the model, a list of project stakeholders is compiled, including the roles that were defined during the stakeholder identification process. In addition, each stakeholder is ranked according to their level of support, influence, and impact.
Though many stakeholder models consider both power and influence, the Brown Stakeholder Assessment Model™ weighs influence as a more credible indicator in stakeholder management, because a person can have power without the ability to influence others. For example, a director of a business unit may have the power to hire, fire, or make executive decisions; however, their views may not be respected in the organization. As a result, the director lacks the ability to influence others. On the other hand, influential people have built-in power because of their ability to sway the opinions of others and get things done. Power is an innate characteristic of influence.
In addition to power, there are other factors that could be considered when analyzing stakeholders such as power, proximity, and urgency. Proximity refers to how close the stakeholder is to the project effort and urgency refers to how important the project is to the stakeholder.
The Brown Stakeholder Assessment Model™ is a way to simplify stakeholder analysis by plotting three important dimensions — support, influence, and impact — on one grid. In the Brown Stakeholder Assessment Model™ each stakeholder is analyzed independently in terms of their level of support, influence, and impact. Afterwards, the factors of influence/impact and support/impact are ranked from 1-10, and then plotted on the assessment grid.
For example, the model will help project managers assess when they do not have support in alignment with stakeholder influence and impact. Though one stakeholder may have high support for a project, that stakeholder may have low influence and will not be greatly impacted by the project.
The core objective of the assessment model is to uncover ways to better align each stakeholder’s influence/impact with their support/impact. The Brown Stakeholder Assessment Model™ bridges the gaps between support/impact and influence/impact for each stakeholder. The model will display overlapping icons one the assessment grid to indicate that influence, impact, and support are all in alignment.
The Brown Stakeholder Assessment Model™ is expected to be available as a software application in fall 2010. Illustrations of the model can be viewed in the new book, Business Analysis and Project Management by Sharon R. Brown. Readers of this article may also sign up to preview the application at https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dGdXSWUxSkN6VHdVZUJLaVBlb1JSN2c6MA.
This excerpt was reprinted from the book, Business Analysis and Project Management, with the permission of Halcyon Enterprise Inc., New York, © 2010 All rights reserved.
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