In my previous blog post, Stakeholder Analysis and the Vampires Among Us - Part 1, we focused on Key Stakeholders. In this post we'll hone in on the Primary Stakeholders, keeping in mind that Primary Stakeholders can also be Key Stakeholders.
To reiterate, the Primary Stakeholders are:
- Those individuals or groups directly affected by a change such as: changes in process, new business initiatives, changes to a user application, etc.
- Typically involved throughout the entire lifecycle or during various phases of the project.
Once the Key Stakeholders have identified the Primary Stakeholders and have committed that they will be available for the project, you can proceed with the Primary Stakeholder Analysis.
Although similar to the Key Stakeholder Analysis, the level of involvement with Primary Stakeholders is much higher and requires a more in-depth analysis and approach to keep those stakeholders engaged - and to have a plan handy, when those stakeholders go for each other's throats.
Conducting the Primary Stakeholder Analysis
There are several options, as to where to being this process. We prefer to start with one-on-one interviews if you can.
Since everyone views and interprets the world based on their own experiences, the one-on-one interview allows you to gauge the stakeholder's motivation, regarding the project, and identify any pain points or preferences. Here are some tips to get the most out of the interview.
Rules of Engagement
- This is your first opportunity to build a relationship with the stakeholder - talk to them - not at them. Do not try to impress them with a litany of technical jargon. Be empathetic!
- Come prepared - if you have gathered any information from your analysis of existing documentation, include those points in your discussion to confirm or update. If you haven't gathered that information yet, check out Building a Catalog of Resources.
- Actively listen and use a template to take notes so that you're making eye contact most of the time. Again, you are trying to get a feel for the stakeholder's attitude and position and at the same time collect information needed for the project.
- Try to keep things at a high level. Note any details to discuss in later sessions, but don't get bogged down at this point.
- Pay attention to body language and tone, which can often tell you more about how the person actually feels, as opposed to what they are saying.
- Not all stakeholders are actual users of an application or process, such as the project manager, business analysts, developers, testers, etc. Interviewing these stakeholders last, will identify any gaps in scope and help you determine if everyone on the project is actually in sync.
Questions to Ask
Before getting into the nitty-gritty details, take a page from journalists and use the: Who, What, When, Where, How, Why method to obtain information. Here are some higher-level questions to ask:
- Who do they report to?
- What are their roles and responsibilities?
- What services or products do they provide?
- How (at a high level) do they provide/perform this service/product (e.g. process steps or procedures)?
- When and how often do they provide this service/product?
- Why do they perform it (are there any regulations, policies, goals, targets, etc.)?
- Where do they perform it (on-site, off-site)?
- Who else do they interact with (departments, etc.)?
Deeper Dive Questions
- What are their "Pain Points" in performing/providing this service/product?
- What, if anything, has been done in the past to relieve these pain points and why do they think they were not successful?
- What do they know about this current project? Be prepared to give them a short overview.
- How do they think it will impact them or their area? Even small, benign changes can have huge downstream consequences.
- What is the most critical aspect of the product/process that cannot change and are there any deal breakers in the proposed project/change that they are concerned with?
- What are the other projects or initiatives that are being worked on in their area or other areas that may affect their service, product, etc.?
- If the stakeholder is representing a department, team, or group; ask them if they are willing to provide (and authorize) additional users/subject matter experts (SME) that can be called upon for elicitation, feedback, walk-throughs, etc. A broader (not too broad) representation will help reduce conflicts and will ease buy-in later in the process.
Now, Tell Me How You Really Feel
Okay, you've been asking the pertinent business questions and hopefully getting clear answers, but you've, also, been paying attention to body language and tone. Right? So at this point you should have an idea as to where the stakeholder stands on the project to be able to create a baseline rating of their AMI - Attitude, Motivation, and Influence.
Attitude - How would you rate their initial reaction to the project or enhancement?
Motivation - What are their internal drivers/motivation? How would you characterize them?
- Controlling - likes to have things their way
- Conformist - a follower who likes to stick to the rules, does not like change
- Creative - produces new ideas and products
- Eccentric - better with abstract ideas, can be socially awkward
- Extrovert - outgoing, optimistic, social, likes to be center of attention
- Passive/Aggressive - uses indirect methods to express negative/aggressive emotions
- Problem Solver - resourceful, reliable, stable, self-starter, calm, achieves goals
- Vampire - life revolves around their needs being met, monopolizes conversations, needy
- Victim - pessimistic and negative, feels mistreated, complains but will not change
Influence - What is their level of influence over other stakeholders (positive or negative)?
The AMI Stakeholder Analysis should be performed at the beginning, midway through, and post implementation of the project, or more frequently as changes in stakeholder attitudes occur or as your skill set improves. As part of your professional development, perform the AMI on yourself and see where you need to change to be a better business analyst.
Stakeholder Analysis Results
The results of the AMI allow you to:
- Classify stakeholders according to potential for threat or collaboration on a project based on their attitude and level of influence. Keep in mind that influence may have nothing to do with title or organizational structure; sometimes the administrative assistant may have more influence than a manager, because they have everyone's ear.
- Reveals potential conflicts between groups that will need to be addressed.
- More fully understand and empathize with stakeholders by "walking in their shoes", enabling you to care, connect and, potentially, enrich their lives.
- Develop a strategy and communication plan to improve the stakeholder's attitude, create a mitigation/enrichment plan to address stakeholder's influence on the project, based on their individual motivation profile.
- Determine if actual changes are needed to the project plan, processes, policies, etc. based on outcomes of individual stakeholder analysis.
The results of the analysis can be represented in a grid or matrix, but I prefer a simple table or spreadsheet outlining: Stakeholder Name, Title, Reports To, Team/Dept., Concerns/Interests, (A) Attitude, (M) Motivation, (I) Influence, Strategy [to address: Mitigation of Influence, Enrichment, Communication Plan, etc.].
Stakeholder Enrichment/Management Plan
As a business analyst, you're responsible for interacting with and bringing together individuals with various skill set levels, interest and motivating behaviors to function as a cohesive group, a community with a common purpose. To facilitate that process create a Stakeholder Enrichment/Management Plan that will:
- Build relationships - in order to better understand how to engage stakeholders. This begins with empathy - if you're not an empathetic person - learn how to be one.
- Communicate, make a connection - everyone needs to feel that they have value.
- Be their guide - educate them on the value of the project and their contributions.
- Make them feel good - about being involved in the project by addressing their interests and concerns.
- Manage conflict - by understanding individual, underlying, motivational factors.
- Establish trust - by engaging stakeholders on a personal level.
Step out of your comfort zone - take a risk. Try to build a community, a tribe, an organization that focuses on common goals, while nurturing individuals to reach their full potential.