We’ve all been there – you start on a new project and you try to figure out who everyone is.
You think you’ve got it until somebody pipes up about Kevin, then you hear mention of a Sandra, and then hold up, you realise that you have no real idea of who is actually involved in your project!
Particularly in larger companies, this intricate web of indistinguishable people can be super tricky to navigate.
So, to deal with this, at the beginning of a project, something that I’ve found super helpful time and time again is to create a stakeholder map of everyone that will be inputting into your project in some way.
For large projects, a stakeholder map’s primary usefulness can be as simple as that it can be too hard to remember everyone’s name and responsibilities. Its a simple solution to help you remember who everyone else is.
Here is an example of a stakeholder map that we created for a large project at the BBC:
In this example, instigated by the Product Manager, we actually used an entire whiteboard wall to map our stakeholders. On each post-it is the name and job title of each key stakeholder, and these are then grouped by function or department to help the viewer navigate the map.
It helped remind our whole design and product teams who needed to be involved in what, and helped us identify some interdependencies between teams.
For smaller projects, a stakeholder map is less an aide memoire, and more a tool to help you understand who your stakeholders are and how they can help you.
When there are less stakeholders to map, you can look at adding more detail – including a short sentence of what their input/role in the project will be, and whether they are a key decision maker or not. I like to colour code post-its as well so that the key decision makers really stand out.
Once you’re clear on your stakeholders, you can look at using tools like the stakeholder matrix to plan your comms approach for each stakeholder.
Regardless of whether you’ve got a few or many stakeholders, having a visual aid as to the landscape of your world will help you and other members of your team:
- Communicate to the right people at the right time
- Understand who needs to be involved
- Help you prioritise your time
Any tips on this? Share in the comments and happy stakeholder mapping!