Stakeholders Management

Practice
tag Stakeholder
tag Stakeholder Value
tag Internal Stakeholder
tag External Stakeholder
tag Partner

“How to manage stakeholders” is one of the challenges a Product Owner in an Agile environment faces when fulfilling her role. Especially as part of a scrum team, it is important to really engage both customers, and stakeholders to value. Communication and inspection during the sprint review and backlog management are vital to ensuring the engagement of the stakeholders and delivering value as desired by customers and stakeholders.

This practice consists of an article describing the Stakeholders Map theory and a step-by-step accompanying guide.

Article
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Stakeholders Map: Theory

One of the tools for stakeholder management is the stakeholders map. In most Product Owner trainings (either for CSPO or PSPO), the importance of stakeholders map is highlighted as well. However, I have not seen many Product Owners actively using this stakeholders map, nor have I seen it being applied to strategically managing stakeholders. With this in mind, I advise Product Owners to visualize the stakeholders map and adjust the communication according to the quadrant they are in. In this article I will elaborate on the stakeholders map and highlight how to effectively use the stakeholders analysis and explore the preferred communication style for each quadrant.

The stakeholders map consists of two axes. The horizontal axis is the extent to which a stakeholder is engaged with the team, product or goal. The vertical axis is the amount of influence a stakeholder has on decisions to reach the goals.

stakeholdermap

Key Players

Key players are stakeholders who have a high level of engagement and also have high influence to reach the team, company, or product goals. These stakeholders are easy to recognize, as they are willing to help you as a Product Owner to clarify any ideas you are thinking about.

As a Product Owner, you should try to have as many stakeholders in this quadrant. These stakeholders not only love your idea, but they also help you to market and discuss with other stakeholders on your behalf.

Preferred communication styles:

  • Involve these stakeholders to discuss “crazy” ideas
  • As these stakeholders are easy going, they will not judge you and help you to clarify and help you make your ideas more concrete.
  • Use direct communication like live meetings, coffee moments, brainstorm sessions, calling at the end of the day etc.
  • Let them be the first to know any upcoming changes or risks which may influence reaching your goals
  • Invite them personally for the sprint reviews

Blockers

The stakeholders in this quadrant are typically stakeholders who do not have much time. They, however, have big influence on the success of your idea. Managers, leadership team members, and leading teams are usually in this quadrant. These stakeholders like being involved as little as possible and are only interested in highlights and the decisions that have to be made.

Preferred communication styles:

  • Involve these stakeholders when a plan needs to finalize
  • As these stakeholders don’t have much time but have big influence, it is important not to pass them in the decision making process.
  • Use high level communication and only update these stakeholders when plans might change
  • Use stakeholders update on the end of the sprint to update these stakeholders
  • Be aware, that any update which is not yet known to these stakeholders might cause more communication effort to explain the situation.
  • Invite them personally and only for sprint reviews that involve change communicated earlier or concrete results to show

Fans

Stakeholders in this quadrant are highly engaged with your goal and the team. These stakeholders, however, do not have a large influence on the rest of the organization. These are your biggest fans and will follow you wherever you want to go. In an agile environment, these are typically agile coaches, team members etc.

Preferred communication styles:

  • Use more indirect than direct communication.
  • Use personalized communication to engage with these stakeholders
  • Let them be the first to know about the decision you have taken
  • As with any other fan, they do not want hearing things from other parties
  • These stakeholders do not like it when other people know things before they do
  • Invite them personally for the sprint reviews

Critics

These stakeholders have low engagement and have low influence on reaching your goals. Although the quadrant is called critics, they are not all critics. Some of these stakeholders just don’t have anything to add to you reaching your goals.

Preferred communication styles:

  • Update these stakeholders on high level
  • Update them only on major achievements
  • Do not invite them for the sprint reviews
  • Maybe if you have a quarterly sprint review or demo it might be interesting for these stakeholders
  • Communicate as indirect as possible, using newsletters and short communications
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Guide
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Create a Stakeholders Map

This step-by-step guide explains how to set-up a stakeholders map. Refer to the Stakeholders Map Theory article for more information on preferred communication styles and background on the guide.

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