Stakeholder mapping is a process that many companies use to visually represent the stakeholders of a given project. It can be a great way for leaders to organize their projects and ensure that it meets stakeholders’ needs. If you’re involved in project management, learning about stakeholder mapping and its importance may help you perform more effectively at work.
In this article, we define stakeholder mapping, explain why it’s important, list its benefits, describe the difference between shareholders and stakeholders and describe how to perform stakeholder mapping in five steps.
What is stakeholder mapping?
Stakeholder mapping is a visual process that identifies all the stakeholders involved in a product, project or idea and lists them in a map. It defines the criteria for the identification and prioritization process. The stakeholder map often appears as a branching mind map, a grid or a matrix.
Why is stakeholder mapping important?
Stakeholder mapping can help make a project more successful through stakeholder identification It allows you to see who connects with the project at a glance and how best to manage their expectations. A stakeholder map also gives a plan for the future with a project to know who to ask for input or advice about certain aspects.
Stakeholders vs. shareholders
Shareholders can be stakeholders, but not all stakeholders have to be shareholders. Shareholders are part owners of a public company through stocks and care about the financial health of a business. While shareholders have an interest in the company, they don’t need to be central figures in every project.
Stakeholders, in contrast, have an interest in a variety of specific areas throughout the company, making the most suited to work on specialized assignments. Two types of stakeholders include:
Internal stakeholders are people within a company — employees, volunteers or team members — who are taking part in the creation and execution of the project. Their level of involvement in each task may vary. Some examples of internal stakeholders include:
External stakeholders are those who may receive an impact from a project or product but may not take part in the creation process. Examples of external stakeholders may include:
Understanding which types of stakeholders to include in your project may help shape your map and determine future project priorities.
When to use stakeholder mapping
Stakeholder mapping may be beneficial in situations such as:
When entering a new market, knowing who’s affected and who can best help you facilitate the change may be beneficial Stakeholder groups to consider when mapping to enter a new market may include:
When starting a new project, you may choose to identify the internal stakeholders who help with creation and execution. Stakeholder groups to consider when mapping to start a new project may include:
When creating a new product, you may choose to identify a wide range of stakeholders that are involved with the development process and those who can purchase or use it in the future. In product creation, the number of stakeholders you choose may vary depending on the product itself. Stakeholder groups to consider when mapping to create a new project may include:
Customers or users
Industries or markets
Benefits of stakeholder mapping
Stakeholder mapping allows you to see a visual representation of all the people influenced by a particular project and how they’re connected to one another. A map may show you which stakeholders have the most influence over a specific project and with whom to share specific information.
Stakeholder maps may also show you in which areas you have the most plentiful resources to help streamline a project as it moves to its next phases.
How to do stakeholder mapping in 5 steps
Use these steps to learn how to create a stakeholder map:
1. Brainstorm your connections
Brainstorm to identify all the potential stakeholders for a project. Write down their names and their functions within or outside of the organization. Record as many names as you think are necessary. If necessary, you can eliminate some names in later steps.
2. Categorize your stakeholders
Group the names of your individual stakeholders by category, such as management, retailers, suppliers, customers or other important sectors. This step may help you discover if you’ve forgotten any necessary stakeholders or decide which ones to eliminate from your initial brainstorming session.
3. Understand stakeholder involvement
Determine the involvement that each individual stakeholder or group could have with the project. Consider why they care about the project, how they feel about the current status of the company and about a new endeavor.
Decide what type of information they may want to receive, their potential attitudes at different stages of the project and who or what outside forces may influence their decision-making process.
If you prefer concrete rather than theoretical answers to these questions, consider interviewing or polling your stakeholders in these areas before the project begins.
4. Prioritize your stakeholders
Depending on the size or complexity of the project, you may have many stakeholders. It’s important to prioritize them to know how involved each one expects to be within the project and how often to initiate communication. Using a grid of influence, also known as the power/influence matrix, may help you during this process. Priority categories may include:
High power and high interest
Stakeholders who have both high power and interest in the power/influence matrix are ones to manage closely. They may be your top priority for communication and may take part in many, if not all, meetings, briefings and testing opportunities.
High power and low interest
Stakeholders with high power but low interest are those you keep satisfied. You may answer their questions when asked, provide regular updates and ensure that you’re meeting their needs in all capacities, whatever they are.
Low power and high interest
Stakeholders with low power and high interest are those you keep informed. You may include them in virtual correspondence such as email chains or memos. You can also answer their questions or provide feedback when prompted.
Low power and low interest
Stakeholders who have both low power and interest may be relevant to the project but are those you monitor. They don’t require as much attention as the other categories, and you can update them at major milestones or intervals as necessary.
5. Finalize your stakeholder map
Once you’ve collected all your information, create and complete your official map. Choose a style that suits your structure and consider adding the map to a shared workspace environment so it’s easily accessible to all stakeholders.