Investing Some Time in Stakeholder Analysis

One often-overlooked aspect to avoiding missing requirements is stakeholder analysis. Stakeholder analysis ensures you have the right people involved in the requirements process. Often, requirements are missed simply because stakeholders are missed – and so you don’t get the input you need to actually discover all of the requirements.

In a sense, without the right stakeholders involved, you “don’t know what you don’t know.”

So how do you ensure you have the right stakeholders involved? Through stakeholder analysis.

Stakeholder Analysis Step 1: The Stakeholder Matrix

Stakeholder analysis is the process of identifying stakeholders to be involved in your project and identifying their specific responsibilities.

The first place to start is with a simple stakeholder list. with the following information:

  • Stakeholder Name
  • Stakeholder Job Title
  • Stakeholder Role on Project

A simple Stakeholder Matrix is included in the Requirements Plan Template that you receive when you purchase the Business Analyst Template Toolkit.

You can also choose to capture additional information such as:

  • Contact Details (email, phone, IM, etc)
  • Availability
  • Preferred Communication Method

This simple stakeholder matrix gives you a sense of who is involved in the project and what their role is.

Stakeholder Analysis Step 2: The RACI Matrix

The next step is to determine what stakeholders will actually be involved in what aspects of the business analysis plan. To complete this step, you need to be a bit further along in your business analysis process. This is often completed once the business objectives and scope have been defined, and you are developing your plan of approach to the project.

Your goal here is to define, for each specific requirements deliverable, who will be involved in supporting the development of that deliverable and what their role will be.

The most common way to do this is to create what’s called a RACI matrix. RACI captures who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed about each area of a project.

For example, for a project with 10 use cases, I might have 3 use cases related to customer support functions and 7 use cases related to front-end website features. In this scenario, the primary stakeholder from the Customer Service team may be consulted on or informed of the front-end website features, but accountable for approving requirements on the 3 customer support function use cases.

It’s in creating the RACI matrix that you’ll often find gaps. If no one is accountable for a specific requirements document, then you have a stakeholder gap! You also want to always be asking each stakeholder who is the approver if they will have all the information to make a final decision on a requirements deliverable. If not, ask who else needs to be involved and add that person to your stakeholder list.

Stakeholder Analysis Step 3: Leverage the Results of Your Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder analysis is not a deliverable that’s created and then shelved. It’s a collection of living documents that get added to over time. They can also be used throughout the project to help you improve your communication and stakeholder engagement practices.

Because it’s one thing to analyze the stakeholders and figure out who they are, it’s another to actually engage them successfully on a project.

All the work you do in stakeholder analysis is really designed to help you be more effective with your engagement.

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Comments

  1. Thanks a lot , so helpful for me as I started internship , really helpful
    looking more plz

  2. Ron Werda says

    Hi Michelle,

    A belated thank you for the great advice and the spreadsheet template for Stakeholder Analysis!

    I noticed that you have not yet replied to Scott (March 27/13), but would it not be fair to say that the Project Manager would know the who-is-who beyond those made obvious to the BA new to the scene/project?

    Cheers,

    Ron

  3. Hi Michelle,

    Great Article! The big question I have for you is that if you are working in a large organisation, how do you identify all your stakeholders? The easy part is identifying the sponsors, etc, and relevant people from those departments, but what about people from other departments that are completely unaware that the project is happening?

    Cheers – Scott

  4. Michelle Swoboda says

    Hi Li Yang, thank you for enjoying the post. I appreciate your comments! Let us know how the template works for you.

  5. Michelle,
    Thanks for the great post and the template. I agree whole-heartedly that good stakeholder analysis up front is an important factor for project success. No one likes a nasty surprise in the middle of or at the end of the project. I have done stakeholder analysis before but never as rigorous as you have demonstrated. Will try to incorporate what you have done next time I plan for next phase of the project.

    Thanks again!

  6. Michelle Swoboda says

    Laura, thank you for your help on this!!

  7. Nicole Coyle says

    That worked! Thank you!!!

  8. A reader found a great work-around:

    When I hover the cursor over the hyperlink, it shows that the file extension is indeed .xlsx.

    When I click on the hyperlink, the pop-up “save as” dialog box shows that it wants to save the file as a zip file.

    As an experiment, I right button clicked on the hyperlink, selected save as, and changed the file extension to .xlsx, and the file saved as an Excel spreadsheet.

    I also verified that I could in fact open the file as a spreadsheet.

    I hope this helps!

  9. Nicole Coyle says

    I have Windows 7 Enterprise and Excel 2010.

  10. Michelle Swoboda says

    Hi Nicole and JD, it is in excel and opens that way for me. I am using Google. We can find a way to fix it.

  11. Michelle Swoboda says

    Rica, thank you for your comments. We are all continuously learning in this business and sharing what we already have created is important!

  12. Nicole and JD, can you tell me what browser you are using and confirm what version of Microsoft Excel you have? I’ll have my tech expert, Marci Dahms, look into it. It opens fine for me in Chrome and I have Excel 2007. It is not uploaded as a zip file, so I’m not sure what is happening.

    Thanks,
    Laura

  13. I am having the same issue, the zip file expands into a series of .xml files, with no Excel files.

    Thanks!

    JD

  14. great post!! i wish i have read these when i started with my first BA/PM job! it should have saved me a lot of pain!!

  15. Nicole Coyle says

    Can you post the Stakeholder Analysis Template as an Excel doc instead of in a .zip file? I can’t open any of the .xml files that are in the .zip folder.

    Thank you!
    Nicole Coyle

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