The precessional effect says that the actions you take will affect other people. Common sense says that the more people you impact on, the more likely it is that your actions will affect people who have some power and influence over your actions. These people could be useful supporters of your projects – alternatively they may block your projects.

We call people who are impacted by our projects/business activities, stakeholders. A key skill in project management is learning to win support from interested parties or stakeholders. Mastering this skill ensures that your projects are more likely to succeed.

Stakeholder Analysis is the methodology we use to identify who are the key people who have to be on our side and supporting us to ensure that our project succeeds.

The benefits of using a “stakeholder-based approach” are:

  • Stakeholders tend to have opinions which may be sought earlier in the project cycle than later. Their knowledgeable input early in the project life, can improve the quality of the project, and give them a sense of ownership in ensuring the project actually happens successfully.
  • In gaining support from the more powerful stakeholders we can gain access to more resources – financial, time based and people based.
  • When we involve the stakeholders on a regular basis, even if is simply reporting on progress to them, we ensure that they understand what we are doing and are kept abreast of the project status and benefits. If and when we need their active support they are already “on side”.

We can predict what stakeholders’ reactions to our project may be and ensure that we are actively marketing the project in a way that will win their support. The first step is to identify who the key stakeholders for a particular project are:

  • Brainstorm in a group if possible, who will be impacted upon by the project.
  • Local government, regulators, unions, employees, customers, special interest groups, neighbouring sites, businesses, Trades people, contractors, investors, managers, suppliers, financiers/banks, the press, etc.
  • Stakeholders may be either an organization e.g. a trade union, or an individual e.g. the trade union delegate.

The next step is to work out their power and influence over and interest in the project. This activity ensures that we know who we should focus and prioritise our attention, marketing and communications.

To create a power interest grid, on a page draw an X and Y axis. Label the y axis, “power” and the x axis “interest": 

  • Where the axes meet, mark both “low” and at the extremity of each axis mark “high”
  • Now from our list of interested parties, we mark on the grid, where each person/organisations level of power vs. interest is.
  • Those who we identify as having high power and low interest will need nurturing and attention.

However those who we identify as high power and high interest will need to be marketed to early and regularly in a way which allows them to continue to see the advantages of the project to them. To do this, we ensure that we develop a good understanding of the most important stakeholders so that we can predict how they may respond. This allows us to work out how to win their support.

To get an easy to use visual report on stakeholders and their impact on the project, we can colour code the Power interest grid. Potential project blockers or critics can be coded in red; Project supporters can be coded green, those who are perceived to be neutral can be coded orange.


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