The best information on stakeholders is safest hidden away.
That's the gist of a point I made in an article recently. The point was that good stakeholder information can be so controversial that you cannot place it in a standard stakeholder analysis document.
Stakeholders are a key part of your project workforce. And good stakeholder information is a very valuable project treasure. If you know your stakeholders well, you have already reduced surprises.
The wise project manager keeps two kinds of stakeholder information. The first kind can be documented in standard forms and posted on sites for document sharing. The second kind should be kept away from public view.
So there is a public analysis and there is a private analysis. Your public analysis, includes information like
- Preferred methods of communication/interaction
- Requirements for project
- Ability to participate
- Preferred meeting cadence, time of day
Your private analysis can include all the public information, but have extra columns. These extra columns should show
- Whether the stakeholder is a supporter of the project objective, an active resistor, a passive resistor, or a "bedfellow". A bedfellow is passive supporter.
- How it is to work with
- Conflicts with other stakeholders
- Level of power or prestige in the organization
- Conditions of satisfaction (What it takes to be satisfied with project)
- Needs for interaction / how close to keep
- Level of interest / impact from project on activities
Consider creating a diagram with level of Power/prestige on the X axis and on the Y axis, a spectrum from Fully opposes (project), Somewhat opposes, Neutral, Somewhat supports, Fully supports. Place stakeholders within this diagram.
How do you get this information? If you have been in an organization for a long time, you pick it up from experience. If you are new to an organization, then start talking to people informally about the stakeholders. Do your best from it appearing as an interview. You want the feel of a friendly (safe) conversation. Ask questions about the stakeholders.
- "She says that she is a supporter, but is she really fully supportive of this effort?"
- "How powerful is this person in the organization?"
And so on. You get the idea.
And, because this private information can be controversial if made public, you'll need to keep this for yourself in your own notebook or somewhere else where it will not get into other's hands. Like any valuable treasure.