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Stakeholder Map. Step by step

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What is a Stakeholder Map? What is Stakeholder Mapping?

What is Stakeholder analysis? In a nutshell, it is a way of visually organizing all the Stakeholders of a company, product, project, or idea.

Stakeholder Mapping is about visually representing all the people who influence and are influenced by the company, product, project, or idea. Mapping is used to present their interrelationships and dependencies visually.

Now, having a vague outline of the problem, let's move on to the details that will give us a better understanding of how to create a Stakeholder Map and its benefits.

We don't just map Stakeholders!

Who are the Stakeholders?

A stakeholder is a person, a group of people, but also an entity (a company, an organization, an office) that has an impact on the goals, operations, and performance of a project, enterprise, product, etc.

By impact, we mean all kinds of influence – real and potential – in the form of reactions, opinions, evaluations, recommendations, negotiations, and complaints.

The Stakeholder does not have to, and often is not, closely related to the company  (e.g., through employment or owned shares – stocks).

Example of a stakeholder map - Orlen
An example of a Stakeholder Map. Orlen Company. | Source: Orlen.pl

Analysis of company's Stakeholders – analysis of internal and external Stakeholders

In the most general sense, Stakeholders can be divided into two types: internal and external. Depending on the industry, the structure of the company, the level of generality, and the level of detail of the Stakeholder Map, the Stakeholder structure will look slightly different.

It will look different in the case of a project and the whole company. Nevertheless, Internal Stakeholders are directly and indirectly involved in a project.

A sample Stakeholder Analysis (analysis of Stakeholders in a project) in the case of digital products should include the following:

  • Owners and originators
  • Programmers/developers
  • Product owners
  • UX/UI specialists
  • Researchers
  • Legal department
  • Regulators
  • IT infrastructure providers
  • External APIs or integrators
  • Other service providers
  • Users.

External Stakeholders are individuals and entities that will be affected by the project, although they are not directly involved in its creation. The distance that separates them, the roles they play, and the influence, involvement, and interest they feel and manifest will vary.

By taking into account the criteria of strength of influence and the level and intensity of interest in the project, we can distinguish four types of Stakeholders.

Namely, those who have:

  • A lot of influence and show little interest in the company or project
  • Small influence and show strong interest in the company or project
  • A lot of influence and show strong interest in the company or project
  • Small influence and show little interest in the company or project.

What is Stakeholder Mapping?

Stakeholder Mapping is simultaneously a process and a tool for categorizing Stakeholders, identifying their relationships and the dependencies between them, and linking them into groups (e.g., with a similar power of influence). It allows us to determine what interests each group represents, their role in the organization, and their goals and expectations.

Potential stakeholders on the project team
Potential Stakeholders on the project team, inside and outside of the software development company, according to Karl Weigers.

An important advantage of mapping is the ability to capture power relationships and their consequences in terms of accelerating or slowing down the development of a company.

The Stakeholder Map also helps to organize goals and methods. It is a very helpful tool, used in:

  • Analysis of conditions, company dependencies
  • Decision-making
  • Negotiation
  • Creation of strategy
  • Discussion of choices.

We can distinguish four stages of the Mapping process:

  • Identification stage: of people, institutions, and organizations
  • Categorization stage: analysis of relations, interests, roles, positions, and resources of individual Stakeholders
  • Mapping stage: visualization of relations and problems
  • Prioritization stage: hierarchizing Stakeholders, their importance, role, issues, and goals.

The essence and most important issue in the Mapping process is the availability of information about Stakeholders and awareness of their goals and capabilities. The criteria adopted in the analysis process that establish the hierarchy and "reveal" relationships and dependencies are no less important.

It is worth remembering that a change in criteria will involve a change in the importance of a given Stakeholder to the company.

How to create a Stakeholder Map?

As we mentioned above, the Stakeholder Map is created based on a list of Stakeholders, which is never a complete list. Each time, because of the specific goal, it will look slightly different.

Changing objectives, corporate strategies (internal changes), and market, political, macro, and micro-economic changes (external changes) can significantly modify it.

With an up-to-date list of Stakeholders, we can proceed to the stage of categorizing them, following specific criteria (e.g., power, interest). Having Stakeholders sorted by specific criteria and according to their importance in a given group, we can move on to creating communication strategies for each group.

Appropriate communication helps to increase Stakeholder engagement. Within the communication strategy, it is possible not only to develop the language of communication but also to differentiate Stakeholders by the criterion of accessibility and detail of the information provided to them.

Miro application for stakeholder mapping
A very helpful tool for creating Stakeholder Maps is the Miro application. | Source: www.miro.com

Stakeholder Maps come in many variants. Hence, creating the Map based on relevant templates that fit the short-term goals is best.

The most popular variant is a matrix, in which Stakeholders are placed in one of four fields, determined by the intensity of a trait – influence and interest.

FAQ Stakeholder Map – Key Questions

When creating a Map, we should pay particular attention to the following questions and find the most detailed answers for them:

  1. Who has the most influence on the company or the project?
  2. On whom does the company or the project have the most significant impact?
  3. What resources, power, interest, and influence do the various Stakeholders have?
  4. What is the role of each Stakeholder?
  5. Which Stakeholder is the most emotionally involved?
  6. What motivates individual Stakeholders?
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Journal / Redaktor
Author: Radek
UX Writer and researcher by education + experience. Collects The Story's knowledge and shares it on the Journal.
Reviewer: Dymitr Romanowski

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