A stakeholder map is a technique to visualize relevant stakeholders by their impact on your project or how your project has an impact on them.
This article provides an overview what a stakeholder map is, what purpose this technique fulfills and how you can create a simple stakeholder map using the radar approach.
Sep 9, 2023 – Updated Sep 10, 2023, 6:18 AM
What is a stakeholder?
Stakeholders include any individuals (or groups of individuals) who
- have a stake in a project or
- are impacted by a project.
We distinguish between internal and external stakeholders:
- Internal stakeholders include people who are participating in building your product / project. This might include product managers, product owner and product team members such as engineers, designers, analysts, etc.
- External stakeholders are impacted by your product / project but they don't participate directly in building it.
There are different ways how you can map your stakeholders.
It depends on how you want to use it. Do you want to understand
- who has a (positive or negative) impact on your project
- what (positive or negative) impact your project has on various stakeholders
- power certain stakeholders have over your project and how you need to keep them informed on the project progress
- how stakeholders are related to each other
- who are opponents and supporters of your project
We will go through a couple of scenarios to create stakeholder maps.
You don't need any particular tool to create such a map. Usually you do it as core team activity and all you need is a large paper (flipchart paper), pens and post-its. Digital whiteboard tools usually also offer one or the other template to create stakeholder maps.
Map with focus on power / interest relations
Power refers to the power certain individuals (or groups of individuals) have over your project or the core team.
Interest indicates if there is something at stake for those stakeholders. The impact your project has on them. Example: how your project benefits them or what effect your project has on another project, etc.
You map your stakeholders in the following quadrants:
- High power / high interest in your project → manage closely
- High power / low interest in your project → keep satisfied:
- Low power / high interest in your project → keep informed
- Low power / low interest in your project → monitor
With stakeholders who have high power and a high interest in your project you will establish a constant face-to-face communication.
Map with focus on impact
You can use a radar map to visualize either
- the impact your project has on stakeholders or
- the impact of your stakeholders on your project.
1. Put the purpose in the center
When creating a stakeholder map you put the purpose (product, feature, etc.) of the map in the center.
2. Add impact layers
Next, add as many layers as you need to represent your stakeholders.
You move from the inside out. One possibility is to number the layers as the move away from the center to indicate primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary stakeholders.
- Primary: direct impact
- Secondary: indirect impact
- Tertiary: potential impact
- Quaternary: no direct impact but are interest in success / failure
The closer the layers to the center the more attached the stakeholders are to the purpose. Example: the core team will be heavily impacted by the purpose (product). From another perspective the purpose (product) will have a heavy impact on the core team.
The further the layer is away the less impact those stakeholders have on the product or the less impact the product has on those stakeholders.
Map with focus on positive / negative impact
This is about risk mitigation: you certainly want to know which stakeholders have a positive (supporter) or negative (opponent) impact on your project.
For this purpose you add zones to your radar map where you can indicate if a stakeholder is
- a supporter,
- neutral or
- an opponent
to the project.
If you want to map the relationships / connections between stakeholders, then network diagrams are quite useful.
In case the main purpose is to identify opponents and supporters of a new initiative you might create different zones where you can place them and include also the assumed reasons why those stakeholders are placed where they are.
There are many usage scenarios and you can easily adapt (or invent) a map that suits your needs.
Thank you for your feedback.