|Once you have met with and feel comfortable that you have an intimate understanding of your stakeholder’s ’stake’ in your project, we now want to analyse their ’salience’ so you can focus your efforts on the stakeholders that really count rather than the ones that just make the most noise.
In project and general management, the term ‘salience’ is used to describe the process of assessing the relative importance of the stakeholders and hence their requirements.
While there are different types of methods, we are going to look at two for determining salience, the first “Power v Interest” is a quick and easy method for smaller projects. The second is a more complicated analysis that is more appropriate for large scale projects / programmes but more on this method in a separate post. For now let’s stick to the simple method.
The ‘Power v Interest’ method simply rates a stakeholder’s power or influence (which can be derived from things such as job position and wealth) against their actual ‘stake’ in your project on a 4×4 matrix. Some of these may have the power either to block or advance. Some may be interested in what you are doing, others may not care. If you look below, a powerful stakeholder with only a small or negligible stake in your project probably isn’t going to waste his/her or your time but would like to keep abreast of progress.
|Stakeholder Power / Potential||Low Stake/ Importance||High Stake / Importance|
|High Influence / Power||Keep Satisfied – Useful for decision and opinion formulation, brokering: mitigate impacts.||Manage Closely – Most critical stakeholder group: collaborate with closely.|
|Low Influence / Power||Monitor (minimal effort) – Least priority stakeholder group: monitor or ignore.||Keep Informed – Important stakeholder group, in need of empowerment: involve, build capacity and secure interests.|
In graphical terms your matrix could look something like this:
Note: the art of stakeholder management is to ensure you have an open dialogue with your stakeholders throughout the project life-cycle so you are keenly aware of changes that may affect your project. “Regulatory Body #2″in the above diagram is a good example of how, during your project, changes in their policy may shift stakeholder salience and thus change the nature of your relationship with them (not to mention your deliverable!).
Prioritising Your Stakeholders
Now that you have your stakeholders mapped out, you can easily prioritise them on the following order. For stakeholders within the same square the priority is given to stakeholders in the top right of the square. For example in the matrix above, the Project Owner is rated higher than the Internal User.
- Manage Closely (most important)
- Keep Satisfied
- Keep Informed
- Monitor (least important)
Assign Your Time To Your Stakeholders
This is where the ‘rubber hits the road’ and is how your communication plan will be executed. Any good time management book will tell you that you need to plan your time against your priorities. Obviously it is up to you how you devote your time but as a rule of thumb consider the following cycles for the different levels.
- Manage Closely (touch daily or every second day)
- Keep Satisfied (touch weekly or bi-weekly)
- Keep Informed (touch bi-weekly or monthly)
- Monitor (monitor for shifts in salience only)
I like to use the word ‘touch’ as it has a human quality about it. It doesn’t have to be a formal report or meeting, reaching out and touching someone can be as simple as an “FYI” email and a follow up call or a short phone call to inform of a status change or even a water-cooler discussion. Regular interactions with meaningful communication with your key stakeholders will ensure a stronger relationship through the cycle.
The next post, Stakeholder Information Requirements, will address the ‘meaning communication’ part of the equation to ensure supply of information meets the demand.