Stakeholder management can be an extensive process and without flexible plans in place from the start, things like stakeholder issues or concerns can unexpectedly delay or impact your project. Having a flexible plan early on can make all the difference, which is why we always recommend starting with a stakeholder mapping exercise.
In today’s blog, we’ll outline five benefits of stakeholder mapping for your stakeholder management plan. Before you start your mapping exercise, you’ll need a stakeholder mapping template to work from; download ours below!
Benefit #1: Stakeholder mapping helps you to categorize your stakeholders by deciding where they fall in terms of their influence (high/low) and interest (high/low) regarding your project. Without this knowledge, you might miss identifying key stakeholders (high interest/high influence) who can positively or negatively impact your project, and without identifying these stakeholders from the start, you might miss a critical opportunity to build trust and relationships.
Benefit #2: Stakeholder mapping helps you focus your resources. Once you’ve categorized your stakeholders, you have a greater understanding of who needs your attention, so you can focus your resources. The stakeholder mapping process can also help you uncover potential risks that may arise during your project and gives you the opportunity to assign the required resources to combat these potential future issues. While things may still be challenging, having resources prepared may help keep your project on track.
Benefit #3: Stakeholder mapping helps you understand the volume of stakeholders you will be engaging with and to what extent. This feeds into benefit #2, but it’s worth pointing out that it’s beneficial to know how many stakeholders you will need to engage with so that you can choose the best communication methods to suit the volume of stakeholders (e.g. perhaps a virtual townhall would be beneficial for a larger group who needs to hear similar messaging). This information can also help you to decide how much time may be required from your team and whether you might have to consider bringing on more team members for the project or hiring an external contractor to help.
Benefit #4: Stakeholder mapping helps ensure you don’t miss the vital project stakeholders. As we mentioned in benefit #1, key stakeholders have the potential to impact your project negatively or positively, so identifying them early on and building relationships from the start is crucial. While it’s common to focus on how stakeholders could negatively impact projects, it’s important to remember that stakeholders have lived experiences and knowledge that can also strengthen your project. So, understanding their perspectives early on can help fill in project gaps and potentially lower risks.
Benefit #5: Stakeholder mapping helps bring your team together. A mapping exercise is best completed with your entire team. Working together helps ensure everyone is on the same page from the very beginning, which is an essential ingredient in effective stakeholder management!
Once you’ve finished your stakeholder mapping exercise, it’s time to move on to the stakeholder analysis process. For a breakdown of the stakeholder analysis steps, check out our blog on What is Stakeholder Analysis?