Stakeholder analysis

wooden_stakesThis article explores stakeholder analysis. This covers the process whereby you identify all the stakeholders for your project and detemine their relationship to the project.

I was reminded of this in a recent project where I was delaing with stakeholders in multiple countries, multiple business units in each location and varying levels of knowledge and interest either of the change and potential.



The project was initiated due to a regulatory change so there was no profit or cost-reduction benefit.

It is key to work hard at identifying all the stakeholders as it will impact project success.

You will need to determine which stakeholders to involve in the project, at what stage and what level of detail. For example, some more senior stakeholders will tend to be involved at a higher level but will be interested in cost, business impact and potential profit or operational cost saving.

Others may be directly impacted in their day to day job – these stakeholders are key as they can ensure the project success. If their needs are fully accomodated, they will embrace the new system. If not, they will fight the system and the expected benefits will be diluted or there will be additional training and project costs.

One useful tool is a stakeholder spreadsheet where you list the stakeholders, their role, interest in the project, importance etc which you should adapt to suit your needs (stakeholder analysis spreadsheet).


Each stakeholder must be considered in the following ways:

  • importance
    do they carry weight in the organisation? 
    Are they key to the project success? (i.e. they have knowledge you need or work in an area that is directly impacted)
  • influence
    are they able to influence the project success?
    Do they have the ability to get buy in from a particular area of the organisation?
  • involvement
    only direct end users (or people who represent the end users) should be involved in detailed work about the requirements as demands on their time will be much greater 
    indirect users should be kept aware but you won’t need their direct input on a regular basis
    senior management 
    will need to understand the big picture and significant requirements. They are likely to have ultimate responsibility for project costs and delivery of project benefits. It is often the case that they may have a representative


It is important to involve end users in detailed work and to win them over to the benefits of the project (i.e. hearts and minds). With the senior management, it is important they are fully aware of project costs which is the project manager’s responsibility. However, you’ll also need to ensure requirements delivering the benefts and any risks are fully communicated, accepted and understood.

There will be a significant effort invested in stakeholder analysis at the outset of the project but it should continue through the project to a lesser degree as new tasks are introduced (e.g. implementation, training).



In my recent project, we took the following approach:

  • agree lead stakeholders from each country to manage communication to and from stakeholders in own country
  • involve lead stakeholders in all requirements gathering (see Requirements gathering alongside use cases)
  • involve specialist stakeholders only in focussed, specialist workshops (e.g. risk)
  • involve all stakeholders in signing off requirements document
  • involve senior stakeholders in agreeing costs
  • involve senior stakeholders in assessing business impact (i.e. how existing business wil be impacted by the change)


You will not often be asked to perform a stakeholder analysis and often it will be considered the project manager’s job. However, it is an important skill to develop even if only to identify risks for your project manager or to understand how you will involve stakeholders in the analysis and should not be overlooked or underestimated.


Related Links

Article describing how to assess importance and influence of stakeholders

Stakeholder analysis in wikipedia

My stakeholder analysis spreadsheet

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About Alex Papworth

3 Responses to “Stakeholder analysis”

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  1. Alex P says:

    Nick, thanks for the tip. Of course, this one is open to IIBA members only although this is not true for all webinars.
    I shall make sure to listen to this one and do some catching up on the others.

  2. Alex (and your readers) – you may like to know that the IIBA is hosting a webinar on Stakeholder Analysis on Feb 17.

  3. Pat Weaver says:

    You may be interested in some of the work being done by Dr. Lynda Bourne. She has developed a stepped methodology, the Stakeholder Circle, and a maturity model SRMM®.

    Both can be implemented without specific tools. For more have a look at her web site or blog at the same URL and add /blog

    She has put a couple of blogs on my site as well.

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