Teleworker Toolkit: Stakeholder Analysis

Back in July, I described a tool called RACI, a responsibility matrix that helps to clarify the who-does-what on your virtual team.  While working with a team recently I realized that RACI is often confused with a similar tool called a stakeholder analysis.  What’s a stakeholder?  In the case of telework, a stakeholder is any individual, group or organization that can have a significant impact on or can be significantly impacted by the telework initiative.  A stakeholder analysis is a process to align the political aspects of the organization  to the needs and goals of telework. 

(Note: Although I will describe this in terms of implementing a telework program, the stakeholder analysis can be applied to any project or initiative, just like the RACI.) 

The success of a telework program can be influenced by many factors.  As many studies have pointed out, some of the biggest hurdles in telework are management resistance, organizational culture, and communication.  A stakeholder analysis can help overcome these barriers by forcing the implementation team to identify all the potential parties and individuals that can positively or negatively influence the initiative and then develop strategies to align those stakeholders.

Creating a stakeholder analysis is simple.  Here’s how to do it step by step:

  1. First, identify the individuals or groups that qualify as stakeholders (you can list them in the first column).
  2.  Next, identify whether they are resistant, supportive, or neutral in regards to the telework implementation.  I have colored coded mine (red, green, yellow) to make it stand out more.  Some teams like to use a scale of 1 – 5 to add in categories of “very resistant” to “very supportive.”
  3. In this step you will identify the issues or reasons that explain the stakeholder’s position.  If they are resistant, why are they resistant?
  4. Once the team labels the stakeholder’s position, they can use the same scale described in Step 2 to list where they need the stakeholder to be.  This step will help you prioritize where to focus some of your communication and change management efforts.  For example, you may have stakeholders that are neutral to the initiative but they are not vital stakeholders and as long as they are not resistant, then there is no need to focus on them. 
  5. Lastly, for the stakeholders the team needs to align, the team can identify the specific strategies to employ to get them onboard.  Additional columns can be added to assign specific team members to the strategies and due dates.

So what’s the difference between the stakeholder analysis and a RACI?  Both are living documents and can be used to help increase intra-organization communication.  However, the RACI is typically used to determine who-does-what while the stakeholder analysis helps get various people or organizations onboard with the initiative.

 Like the RACI, there are may variations to the stakeholder analysis.  Some practitioners like to add an additional column to help prioritize stakeholders, such as level of impact the stakeholder might have.  Other matrices can be get more elaborate by adding additional columns for identifying root causes to certain issues or specifics of the communication plan (i.e. frequency, medium, etc.).  My advice is to keep it simple.  The intent, not the table, is what is important.  Successful telework implementations depend on managing a number of stakeholders.  Getting them aligned at the onset and keeping them onboard is key and can be done with a little forethought.

– Jason


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