Stakeholder Mapping: The Importance of Visually Representing Your Key Stakeholders

This blog discusses what stakeholder mapping is and explains the important concepts behind it. The information we gathered and compiled in this article aims to enhance the readers’ understanding of stakeholder information and how important it is to project management.

Visual PMP Academy
January 8, 2024

Working with a team requires a better understanding ofthe unique characteristics of their stakeholder community. This helps the team identify the functions of each stakeholder and their relationship with one another. A standard mapping structure provides a robust framework for analysing and planning a project among the members of the community. This rating structure also promotes the idea that stakeholders vary and, each one should not be treated in the same way. 

This blog discusses what stakeholder mapping is and explains the important concepts behind it. The information we gathered and compiled in this article aims to enhance the readers’ understanding of stakeholder information and how important it is to project management.

You will learn about the importance of the unambiguous presentation of complex data, the history of the idea of using diagrams to convey information, and the multiple methods and techniques that have been and are, in use for representing stakeholder concepts and communities. Furthermore, you will also discover tools that support visualisation in the Stakeholder Circle methodology. So, if you’re ready to dive in, continue reading

What is Stakeholder Mapping?

Stakeholder mapping is a process that involves “mapping” or visually representing all relevant stakeholders on one document. Stakeholders can be individuals, groups, or entities that have an interest or concern in the project and can be affected by its outcome. These typically include:

  • Project Sponsor
  • Project Manager and Team
  • Customers/Clients Employees
  • Investors/Shareholders
  • Suppliers and Vendors
  • Government Agencies
  • Local Community
  • Competitors
  • Trade Unions/Associations

The goal of stakeholder mapping is to analyse the relationships between a project or organisation and its various stakeholders, helping to identify key influencers, assess their interests, and prioritise engagement efforts. When team members know who the stakeholders are, they can firmly build relationships with each one of them.

Stakeholder maps can vary in format based on specific needs or priorities. However, they should consistently prioritise clarity, conciseness, and organisation into discernible groups. Commonly, these maps categorise stakeholders by power and a secondary criterion in most stakeholdergrids. 

Key Elements of Stakeholder Mapping

An effective stakeholder map has the followingfeatures and elements:

  • It minimises the subjectivity to the greatest extent.
  • It ensures transparency in the assessment process.
  • It simplifies the comprehension of intricate stakeholder data.
  • It establishes a solid foundation for analysis and discussion.

Understanding the Stakeholder Circle

The Stakeholder Circle offers a versatile five-step methodology for understanding and managing relationships within and around an activity, emphasising the dynamic nature of the stakeholder community. Grounded in the idea that an activity requires the informed consent of its stakeholders, the methodology highlights the importance of managing these relationships to enhance the likelihood of success. By categorising and charting the influence potential of key stakeholders, the process guides the targeting of stakeholderseffectively throughout the activity's lifecycle.

The five steps of the Stakeholder Circle include: 

  • Identification of stakeholders
  • Prioritisation of stakeholders
  • Visualisation
  • Engagement
  • Monitoring of engagement outcomes

Stakeholder Expectations

It is normal for stakeholders to expect personal or organisational gains from the success of a particular activity.

Examples of personal gains are enhanced power, strengthened reputation, career progression, financial gains, avoidance ofvadverse consequences, or a harmonious life. Organisational gains, on the other hand, include enhanced power, improved reputation, social acknowledgment, and social cohesion.

How to Do Stakeholder Mapping?

Here is a quick overview of the steps in doing a stakeholdermapping:

  1. Compile a viable list of stakeholders.
  2. Evaluate some of their crucial attributes.
  3. Present the list in a manner that facilitates the team's execution of planned stakeholder relationship management initiatives.

Different Stakeholder Mapping Models

Stakeholder Mapping Models are strategic tools that visually represent and categorise stakeholders based on particular criteria. These include the stakeholder’s level of authority, concern about project outcomes, ability to influence the project, and capacity to bring about changes in project planning or execution. These models help organisations and project teams understand and manage relationships with various stakeholders, facilitating effective communication, engagement, and decision-making processes.

What is a Stakeholder Influence Map?

A Stakeholder Influence Map is a tool crafted for policy development, illustrating the impact of specific stakeholders on a given activity. It employs a triangular structure with the activity at the apex, offering two key dimensions of stakeholder data:

  1. The proximity of the stakeholder symbol to the apex signifies the extent of their influence.
  2. The size of the circle denotes the significance of the stakeholder in the context of the activity.

Common Tools Used for Stakeholder Mapping 

Mapping Template

A stakeholder mapping template aims to capture stakeholder’s information and record updates about an activity. This tool is often created with a user-friendly interface and the capacity to store data, measure trends, and analyse insights. 

Mapping Matrix

Another widely used tool for stakeholder mapping isthe 2x2 matrix. This matrix delineates two dimensions of stakeholder attributes, occasionally incorporating a third or fourth dimension denoted by the colour or size of symbols representing individual stakeholders. Commonly assessed stakeholder attributes include power (low, medium, or high), support (negative, neutral, or positive), influence (low or high), interest (low orhigh), and attitude (obstructive or supportive).

Stakeholder Cube

The three-dimensional stakeholder cube represents a more advanced evolution of conventional charts. This is designed this way to enable the visualisation of stakeholders' interest (active or passive), power (influential or insignificant), and attitude (backer or blocker). This tool typically introduces eight typologies with recommended approaches for stakeholder management. Despite its sophistication, the chart's nature makes it challenging to depict specific stakeholders or illustrate relationships between stakeholders and the activity.

Software Tools

Software tools are digital programs or apps that canbe used to create a stakeholder map. These tools offer capabilities such as maintaining a comprehensive history of stakeholder interactions, summarising information about stakeholders, recording their contributions, and facilitating effective monitoring and measurement of communication effectiveness. 

Some tools function as spreadsheets that can perform calculations and generate simple graphics for reporting on the progress of stakeholder relationship management. While others, functioning as databases, support complex data collection, sophisticated reporting, and in-depth analysis. Overall, these software tools empower organisations to conduct predictive risk and stakeholder analysis, contributing to informed decision-making and strategic planning. 

Other Identification and Analysis Tools

Several schemas have been developed to describe the relationships between specific stakeholders and the activity. These include the influence map, project environment map, various versions of the two by two matrix, engagement profile matrix, the three-dimensional grid, and the stakeholder circle community representation.

Delving into Stakeholder Engagement 

The Stakeholder Circle methodology employs two key diagrams to explore relationships with an activity's stakeholders. The primary focus is on the Stakeholder Circle, emphasising the identification of relevant stakeholders and determining their significance in the current stage of theactivity's life cycle.

The second component, the Engagement Profile Matrix, assesses the attitudes of each stakeholder, aiding the team in planning proactive communication efforts. This matrix identifies stakeholders requiring additional effort to positively influence their attitude or maintain crucialsupport for the activity. 

While the Stakeholder Circle assesses the balance between supportive and opposing stakeholders, the Engagement Profile Matrix compares stakeholders' current attitudes and receptiveness with the project team's target attitude, guiding the team in narrowing gaps, determining achievable actions, assessing required effort, and implementing effective communication strategies.

Learn more about Stakeholder Mapping and the right way to do it by signing up at our PMP course in Join us on the journey to mastering project management and unlocking the full potential of your projects.


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