Key relationships for Business Analysts are with the project stakeholders. Without them onside projects can be very hard but first I guess we should start with a definition of who stakeholder is. My definition is “Anyone at all who is impacted or has some kind of involvement in the process or system that’s in scope of the analysis”.
Some typical stakeholders would be:
- Anyone who provides something to the process. So these could be teams further up the line from the process. It could be suppliers who provide materials, components or data for the process.
- Anyone who receives something from the process. So these could be other teams further down the line, or could be customers. It could be people you provide reporting to.
- The owner of a parallel process that shares some the suppliers or customers above.
Depending on the nature of the project I am working on, other stakeholders could include: Teams that do the selling, marketing, quality control, or audit, health & safety, human resources, or external bodies like regulatory bodies, or client forums.
So that’s a list of typical stakeholders, the next thing is finding out who yours actually are. I find that no matter how well prepared I am, I always find more people along the way. At each point in the project more stakeholders will appear, here’s the normal flow:
- From the initial project brief or conversations with the sponsor I get a feel for the first stakeholders.
- Once we start the current state analysis more will emerge.
- As we move into looking at solutions more will appear.
- Finally as an early part of the implementation of a solution we should have any last ones.
Building and maintaining a list of the stakeholders is really important, once you have this list you can start to work out who has influence and who is critical to the project.
Now there are established techniques like the stakeholder map diagram (pictured), where you categorise by power/influence. This can be really good on a large complex project but I think for most of us a simple list is ok
The key thing really is to record who they are (their name and title), who they represent (e.g. the team or agency etc), and why they are important to the success of the project (e.g they provide the materials you need, or they provide know how or can stop the project somehow)
From this I can then workout who I need to keep informed, who to go to when I have certain issues, who I need to be nice to! And finally who I shouldn’t upset!