Project Communications Planning: Stakeholder Segmentation (Analysis)

Project Communications Planning: Stakeholder Segmentation (Analysis)

To communicate effectively, you’ve got to know what’s appropriate. After all, you wouldn’t screen a movie like The Evil Dead for a bunch of kindergartners, would you? A solid stakeholder analysis is the key to providing targeted project communications that will meet the needs of your customers and reach the goal of your communications plan.

Actually, I prefer the term “stakeholder segmentation,” as in market segmentation, over “analysis.” The point of the exercise is to put stakeholders into groups with similar backgrounds, needs and desires, so you can best serve them. If that’s not segmentation, I’m a warthog (no cracks from those of you who think I am a warthog in any case).

An excellent way to segment stakeholders is to use a four-quadrant matrix*. Witness the following:

The x axis (horizontal) shows you how interested a person is in the project; that is, how much they stand to gain or lose from it. The y axis (vertical) shows you how much technical or management power a person wields in the organization. It’s pretty easy to plot people using these two criteria.

One thing to remember: Be aware of any movement around the matrix. Circumstances may cause that low influence, low interest person to become just the opposite!

High Interest/High Power: Those with high stakes and lots of power of the political or geeky varieties. Target these communications; that is, provide these individuals with exactly what they want. Maintain constant contact with them on a formal and informal basis to ensure you keep up with their changing needs.

Low Interest/High Power: Those with little or no stake but plenty of technical or management power. Provide them with information at a middling level of depth and be sure they know about any roadblocks, risks, or possible unintended consequences.

Low Power/High Interest: Those with a stake, real or perceived, in the project but little ability to influence it from either a technical or management standpoint. Keep them on your side by including them in your most general communications; for example, the monthly project report that goes to everybody.

Low Power/Low Interest: Those having a tenuous connection to the project. Keep an eye on them to be sure their power/interest levels don’t change and require a different level of communications.

The power and interest axes are great; however, I wanted to include some other factors.

Jose D. is in red type. That’s because he is an opponent of the project, so I need to monitor him closely and ensure he is well-informed. In addition, there’s an arrow from Jose up to Beth Y., who is both interested and powerful. The arrow indicates that Jose has significant influence on Beth. Given Beth’s position and her relationship with an opponent, you need to do a tremendous job communicating with her.

The rectangle around Zeke indicates that he is an active person. Even though his power is relatively low, he has high interest and is going to be sticking his oar in the water whenever he can. Give him a level more attention than you would an ordinary low power/high interest person.

Circles around Janet H. and Missy W. indicate that they are passive folks. This might be a matter of personality or because of their role in the organization. They still need communications, but you might want to leave out some of the more detailed stuff, since they probably aren’t going to read it, anyway.

 

*Thanks to http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_07.htm for the original matrix model.

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