What is Stakeholder Mapping?
Stakeholder mapping is an exercise where you identify project stakeholders, which can be individuals or organizations, and then categorize these stakeholders to help guide your engagement strategy.
One popular stakeholder mapping canvas is Mendelow's Power-Interest Matrix which helps you categorize stakeholders based upon their level of interest (high/low) and level of influence (high/low) on your organization or project. Using this categorization, you can then identify the appropriate engagement strategies and tactics for stakeholders.
What is it used for?
Mapping your stakeholders into categories helps you develop an action plan and understand your engagement program better. It helps guide your engagement effort for each category of stakeholders, so you know where your resources need to be focused.
For example, typically, you should put more effort into engaging with the stakeholder in your high interest/high influence group than you would with the stakeholder in your low interest/low influence group. This is because the stakeholder with high interest and high influence are more likely to positively or negatively impact your project. In contrast, low interest and low influence stakeholders are less likely to have an impact.
Knowing which stakeholders are in each category helps you understand how many resources you should put into engaging your stakeholders, how much budget may be required, and enables you to choose specific engagement tactics (i.e. the ways you’ll engage). This understanding is vital information for building your strategic stakeholder engagement plan.
The Four Categories
- High Interest/High Influence: these are your key players and should be managed closely. These are the stakeholders who can most impact the success of your project. These stakeholders must be engaged thoroughly. Put your highest engagement efforts into this group.
- Low Interest/High Influence: as this group can influence your project, you should keep them satisfied; help meet their engagement needs and make them feel involved. This group won’t require as much engagement as your high interest/high influence stakeholders, but they still need to be satisfied with your engagement.
- High Interest/Low Influence: keep this group informed. Talking with them is often helpful for feedback on your project and can help ensure that no major issues arise. They can also help identify areas that could be improved or may have been overlooked.
- Low Interest/Low Influence: this group has little influence or interest in your project and should be monitored, but don’t ignore them. Let them know about your project and then periodically check with them in case anyone in this group moves to another group.
Who Should Do a Stakeholder Mapping Exercise?
The mapping exercise helps you to build your stakeholder engagement plan by empowering you and your team to understand the volume of stakeholders you should be engaging with and to what extent.
This pre-engagement knowledge helps you to budget your money, time and people accordingly.
It’s useful for any organization that will engage with stakeholders to do a stakeholder mapping exercise; however, stakeholder mapping isn’t just useful for stakeholder engagement and consultation, it’s also useful for any organization managing stakeholder relationships.
What Tools do you need for a Stakeholder Mapping Exercise?
Stakeholder mapping is a low-cost activity that can help your organization save resources in the long run.
For stakeholder mapping, all you need is:
- A four-quadrant map. Click here to download our free stakeholder mapping template (we suggest printing this to its full size and sticking it to a wall for optimal visual collaboration)
- Sticky notes (to write down the names of stakeholders)
- Pens or markers
- More than one person is ideal for helping brainstorm for a variety of perspectives
- Time to complete the exercise
How do you Map Your Stakeholders?
- Brainstorm: Write the names of every stakeholder you and your team can think of on a sticky note (one name per sticky note). Ask yourself trigger questions to help foster discussion on possible stakeholders.
- Categorize: With your team, discuss how much interest and influence this person/organization has regarding your project. Again, use trigger questions to guide and help identify a stakeholder’s interest and influence on your project.
- Populate: Place the sticky note in the appropriate quadrant on your stakeholder map.
- Double-check: Once done, take a moment to talk with your team (even bring in a few more people to look at the map) and consider if any sticky note should move to another box instead and discuss if you’re missing any stakeholders.
What do You do After You Finish Your Stakeholder Mapping Exercise?
Once you’ve identified, mapped and classified your stakeholders, your next step is to choose your level of engagement.
For more on engagement levels, you should check out The Spectrum of Public Participation developed by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2).
Once you decide on your level of engagement, you’re ready to choose your specific engagement tactics.
Your tactics are your chosen methods for how you’re going to engage (i.e. townhalls, information packages, phone calls, emails etc.).
Continue monitoring your stakeholder map throughout the lifetime of your project. Stakeholders can move into different categories, and you’ll want to be aware when it happens.
Stakeholder Relationship Management
Once you begin engaging, you’ll need to manage all the stakeholder information you collect (contact details, communication records, etc.). You’ll need to define a scalable and repeatable process for the management of this information and your stakeholder engagement project plans.
It might be tempting to try to make spreadsheets or a software tool you already have access to like a CRM do this job, but these are not long-term sustainable solutions for the management of stakeholder engagement information.
Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) Software
Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) software is made specifically for managing stakeholder information and stakeholder engagement efforts and helps you connect all your stakeholder engagement information in one platform. This is especially important as concerns, issues and commitments are identified for stakeholders as part of your project.
SRMs are the best way to manage stakeholder relationships, visualize engagement histories, and help you to understand your project's issues and commitments across all stakeholders.
To Learn More
To learn what an SRM can do for your organization, check out our blog on Why Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) Software is Your Most Valuable Tool