Stakeholder analysis is the process of identifying and prioritising key players in a project (or organisation) and understanding what type of information they need in order to buy-in.
The main objective is to gain a deeper understanding of each person’s goals, and developing the mental framework for effective communication.
The exercise usually comes in the form of a matrix or a table. If you type ‘stakeholder analysis template’ on Google Images, you’ll be greeted with endless options/inspiration to choose from. While it’s certainly nice to have options, the focus should be drawing insights from the tool, and not the tool itself.
For stakeholder analysis, you decide to focus on these two questions.
What does he/she care about the most?
What do they need the most from me?
Chances are, each stakeholder will care about many different things depending on their role and level of influence in a given project or organisation. To add a layer of complexity he/she also has to juggle their stakeholders' concerns, which means that the individual could potentially have a laundry list of requests to fulfil.
The key is to figure out which concerns matter the most to the stakeholder and use them to guide your conversations with them. Prioritising their concerns is no different from prioritising tickets; it’s ultimately to help you understand what will have the most positive impact.
Once you figure out what each stakeholder cared about the most, you will understand what types of information they need from you. This will allow you to deliver the right amount of details in your conversations.
Top 3 Tips for Effective Stakeholder Communication
After completing the analysis, I did a quick retrospective and gained some insights which I think will also be helpful for you.
Understand your audience: Do some sleuthing and figure out what each stakeholder’s goals and motivations are. Comb through your inbox and meeting notes. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to tailor a message that resonates with them.
Be clear and succinct: Try not to ramble during stakeholder meetings. It’s easier said than done when you’re new and/or nervous, but it’s important to deliver the right amount of information without under or overwhelming the stakeholders.
Keep the matrix or table alive: Once you complete the analysis, don’t let it sit in the corner and collect dust. Treat it like a living, breathing document. Revisit it as many times as you need to reflect changing stakeholders and their goals.
Keep in mind that learning to communicate effectively takes time, dedication, and lots of practice. You're not going to be an overnight success, but with continuous effort, you'll be on your way to becoming an effective product manager.