Often, project managers will step into a stakeholder management plan without consulting or creating a stakeholder matrix, also known as stakeholder mapping. It can seem like an unnecessary extra step – however, making one is essential to the ease of your project. A stakeholder matrix is a simple and effective project management tool to analyze your stakeholders and to create different strategies for the different groups of stakeholders, ensuring that you meet all the actions needed to align their needs and perspectives with your project goals.

You may hear people talk about different types of matrices, each with their own approach. Every single one has a different origin. The basic six you will hear about are:

  • The Business Process Management Stakeholder Matrix, proposed by John Jeston and Johan Nelis
  • Stakeholder Influence Grid, proposed by Dragan Milosevic
  • Power and Support Stakeholder Analysis, proposed by Paul Roberts
  • Power and Interest grid Power/Interest Grid, from Eden and Ackermann
  • Support and Importance Stakeholder Matrix, developed by Paul Nutt
  • The Influence/Interest Matrix, suggested by the OGC
  • The Stakeholder Engagement Assessment Matrix

But what do these matrices actually involve? How can you have so many approaches to the same relative idea? Let’s dive into a few examples.

The Influence/Interest Matrix plots out your stakeholders based on their influence on the project, cross referenced by their interest in the project. This way, you can figure out which stakeholders need the most attention to keep the impact of their opinions in check.

A government body would have a significant impact on a project. A person whose home needs to be moved in the process might have significant interest. So, your stakeholders then get plotted out based on these two axes. Less interested stakeholders who also have less impact might need to be monitored. You can keep others satisfied, keep informed, and manage your most interested, most impacted stakeholders closely.

The Stakeholder Engagement Assessment Matrix rates your stakeholders based on how engaged, flatly, they are with the process in total. They’ll be rated on a scale of Unaware, Resistant, Neutral, Supportive, and Leading.

Each stakeholder can be put into these boxes, but the trick with this matrix is to also demarcate where they currently sit in their interest, versus where you’d like them to be. You can mark each current status with a “C” and each desired status with a “D”. Are more Cs and Ds actually in the same column? That’s great! But if you’ve got them spread out, there’s still more work to be done.

There are many different approaches, many different matrices, and each with different strategies for the different groups of stakeholders in each of the four quadrants. These are just two examples broken down, but you can take any path you think will work. How do you decide which matrix should be for you? Every one is geared toward measuring your stakeholders’ value and impact on your work. But take a look at these models and see how you would describe your stakeholders. Whatever terminology connects mostly strongly with your team, pursue that in your matrix.

Will every stakeholder you have always fit perfectly into these matrices? Not always. But it’s also not a perfect science. The goal is to have a starting point to work from. If you’re able to visualize all your stakeholders on this matrix, you can have an opportunity to start calculating and planning out their engagement, editing as you go to get a good perspective on priorities and needs.

Understanding the influence and authority of specific networks, and being sensitive to stakeholder relationships will provide you with a real advantage right from the start.

Learn more: Communication Strategy for Stakeholder Engagement

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