Stakeholder Engagement for Testers – The talk I never did (Part 3)

Well Hello!

Another morning is upon us, which means its time for part 3 of my stakeholder engagement series. if you have stumbled across this post and you want to start from the beginning part 1 can be found here. This part is a continuation of part 2. Today we focus on prioritisation of your stakeholders and a little bit about the physiology of  stakeholder engagement.

so without further ado…

Who are Your Stakeholders? (cont.)

Who’s important? How do we prioritise them?

After going through these various ways of identifying who the stakeholders are in this project, you are going to more than likely have a very long list. This is likely to be too many for you to realistically manage. You’re going to need to cull this list, but how?

Well the good thing is that not all stakeholders are created equal! There is a well-used, and proven technique for working out whom you need to spend more time on and whom you can leave alone.

Stakeholder Analysis is a technique that helps us to prioritise our list of stakeholders that we now have. To do this is very straightforward. We start off with a standard two by two table like this one:

Screenshot 2015-08-07 08.38.56

The y-axis is going to represent “Power” from low power up to high power. On the x-axis we are going to show the interest in what we are doing. Again the scale will go from low to high.

Now in our two by two, in the box represented by low interest and low power we have “Monitor”. These are going to contain the people we are going to spend the least amount of time managing.

The next box is the high interest, but low power. In here we put Keep informed. We are going to have to keep these people adequately informed about what is going on talk to them to ensure that no major issues are arising. These people although not powerful they can often be very helpful and are enablers.

In the high interest and high power box we have those that we will “manage the closest”. These are going to be the people that we must fully engage with and make the greatest effort in keeping satisfied.

In the final box, the low interest, with high power need to be kept satisfied. We are going to spend some effort to keep them informed because they can be both potentially helpful to us, but can also if left completely out of the loop, become an unwanted pain in the backside!

So now all we need to do is map our list of stakeholders onto this two by two.

Remember they’re not Roles they’re People!

Now that we have our priorities stakeholders we have need to find out more about those that we have prioritised as key. Information is power; so the more we know about our stakeholders the easier it is going to be to manage them. It will also help you to identify potential stakeholder conflicts early so that you can do something about it. Even if you cant do anything about it you can at least deal with it internally by accepting that there’s nothing you can do and therefore not beat yourself up about it.

The things you are going to need to know are how each of your key stakeholders are going to react to your project. For example, high interest is not automatically a positive trait. It could be that they are interested because they are not in support of it.

Also the more you know about your stakeholders the better you are going to be able to engage them and communicate with them.

Some things that you might want to know are;

  • what interest do they have in relation to the output of what you do? Is it financial or emotional? Is it positive or negative?
  • What motivates them the most? Is it quality, time to market, cost, or something else?
  • What information do they want from you and what delivery method do they prefer?
  • What is there current opinion on yours and your team’s work, and is there opinion based on good information? It’s also important to understand who influences their opinions general, and especially their opinion of you? It maybe these people need to be added to your key stakeholder list.

If the stakeholder is unlikely to be positive what is likely to win them around to support what you do? If however you don’t believe that they can be you need to understand how you can best manage their opposition.

It might seem daunting but it’s my experience the best way to start to get this information is to just talk directly with them. It will also go a long way to building the relationship you desire with them.

Part 4 can be found here.

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