Career Development

How To Perform a Stakeholder Analysis (With Examples)

March 15, 2021

In business, a stakeholder is someone with an interest in a company or project. When planning and making decisions about a project, it's important to analyze how your choices might affect the stakeholders. Maintaining a strong relationship with these individuals can ensure your project goes smoothly and successfully. In this article, we describe how to perform a stakeholder analysis and provide examples.

What is a stakeholder analysis?

A stakeholder analysis is a tool project managers and other professionals use to determine each stakeholder's interest, influence and participation in a project, policy or program. You might perform a stakeholder analysis before starting a project or when making decisions during one. A stakeholder analysis can help you:

  • Identify stakeholders and their motivations
  • Decide how to involve your stakeholders in the project
  • Communicate with stakeholders
  • Manage and engage stakeholders
  • Use stakeholder advice and opinions to improve the project
  • Find ways to increase stakeholder interest or support for the project
  • Gain resources such as money, time and staff

Once you understand the stakeholders' motivations and influence, you can create a strategy for communicating with and involving them in your project.

How to perform a stakeholder analysis

You can do a stakeholder analysis in three main steps:

1. Identify the stakeholders

Start by creating a list of all potential stakeholders. These are individuals with an interest in whether your work succeeds or who are affected by your project. Stakeholders might include:

  • Advisors
  • Company executives
  • Coworkers
  • The local community
  • Customers
  • Family
  • Government
  • Investors
  • Managers
  • Media
  • Partners
  • Professional organizations
  • The public
  • Shareholders
  • Suppliers

Stakeholders can be both internal and external to the company. They can also be organizations, groups or individuals. If the stakeholder is an organization, however, make sure you identify the individual with who you will be communicating at that organization.

Related: Who Are Stakeholders in a Business?

2. Prioritize your stakeholders

Some stakeholders have more influence on and interest in your project than others, and knowing their level of importance helps you involve and communicate with them properly. When trying to determine stakeholders' influence on a project, consider factors such as:

  • Leadership
  • Control of resources
  • Negotiating power
  • Legal power
  • Special skills and knowledge
  • Economic, political and social status
  • Influence on other stakeholders
  • Dependence on other stakeholders

To prioritize your stakeholders, use a method such as a Stakeholder Power Interest Grid—a tool that lets you assess these individuals visually. Where you place each stakeholder on the grid shows how you should interact with them. A Power Interest Grid looks at stakeholders' levels of influence and interest and includes four sections:

  • High power, high interest: Manage these stakeholders closely and do everything you can to engage and satisfy them. Focus most of your efforts on this group, and update and consult with them regularly. You might meet with these stakeholders in person. Example: Your manager, investors

  • High power, low interest: Keep these stakeholders happy without engaging them so much they lose interest in the project. Update and consult them on areas of the project that might interest them most to try to increase their interest level. Example: Suppliers, government

  • Low power, high interest: Keep these stakeholders well-informed and approach them for advice and support when needed. Involve them in low-risk decisions, and get their feedback on the project's progress. Example: Community groups, coworkers

  • Low power, low interest: Monitor these stakeholders and provide them with the minimum amount of communication and updates. Send them general communications, newsletters and press releases, and only update them on the project's overall status. Example: The public

Draw or use a software program to create a grid with four quadrants and two axes. Label one axis "Power/Influence" and one axis "Interest." After you have identified stakeholders' level of each, place them in their appropriate quadrant. You can also use other tools, diagrams and techniques to prioritize your stakeholders, including color-coding them, for instance, from green for the highest supporters to red for the lowest supporters.

Also called a stakeholder map, this visual method of categorizing stakeholders is particularly useful when you have tens or even hundreds of people interested or involved in a program. It allows you to think about, communicate with and manage them as groups instead of individuals.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide To Stakeholders in the Workplace

3. Understand your stakeholders

Ask yourself, your team or the stakeholders questions to determine how they feel about the project. You can get this information from stakeholders through a questionnaire or, ideally, a phone or in-person meeting before starting a project. Examples of questions to ask include:

  • What is their financial or emotional interest in the project's success?
  • What do they think about the project?
  • What motivates them? What are their desires, needs, values or rights?
  • What resources do they control?
  • What information from the project do they value most?
  • What is the best way to communicate information to them?
  • Who or what influences what they think about the project?
  • What can you do to gain more of their support?
  • What can you do to manage their opinion of the project?

Use your answers to these questions to plan how to engage and communicate with each stakeholder.

Related: How Do I Manage Stakeholders?

Stakeholder analysis template

Once you have gathered information about all your stakeholders, you can organize it in a variety of ways, including the factors that are most important to you. Use this simple template to start your stakeholder analysis:

Name: [Stakeholder's full name]
Role: [Stakeholder's position in the company or project; you might need to list multiple roles]
Involvement: [High, medium, low]
Influence: [High, medium, low]
Support: [Do they support the project? Yes, no, impartial]
Conditions met: [Does the project accomplish what they want it to do? Yes, no, partly]
Motivation: [What motivates them? Add comments here.]

Related: How To Engage Project Stakeholders

Stakeholder analysis example

Here is an example of a stakeholder analysis based on the template above. Create an analysis for each stakeholder, and organize it in a chart, map or spreadsheet:

Name: Brett Robbins
Role: CEO of High Tower Inc., investor
Involvement: Low
Influence: High
Support: Yes
Conditions met: Partly
Motivation: Financial motivation for the project to succeed. Has provided 50% of the funding needed to launch our new product.

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