When we begin a journey in UX design, our primary focus is ensuring users' satisfaction and optimizing product usability. We aim to create products that simplify people's lives and enhance their experiences. However, it's crucial to recognize the impact of stakeholders alongside user experience.
Because they also have a significant influence on the product's success. This recognition is essential for building trust, maintaining a competitive edge, and securing long-term financial gains.
As the title suggests, today's discussion revolves around stakeholder mapping and analysis techniques in UX projects. Before we get into the details, let's first clarify what defines a stakeholder.
Who Are The Stakeholders?
Dr. Edward Freeman defines stakeholders as those crucial for an organization's existence. So, who are the stakeholders? Simply put, they're anyone interested in your project or needed for its success.
Stakeholders can be internal or external. Internal stakeholders, like the CEO, marketing director, or your manager, directly impact your project. External stakeholders, depending on your project, can also play a role.
In User Experience (UX) projects, engaging the right stakeholders is vital. They ensure your research aligns with project goals, making your work more beneficial and getting genuine investment.
Here, stakeholders can come from various areas within your organization—engineers, product managers, UX designers, and more. Each brings unique perspectives, which can lead to challenges.
Managing these differences and expectations is crucial. Failing to do so can jeopardize your UX project. Effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders are essential for success.
What is Stakeholder Mapping?
A stakeholder map is a graphical four-quadrant influence-interest matrix used to categorize stakeholders based on their influence and interest in the project. Stakeholder mapping is the visual technique of representing all product, project, or concept stakeholders on a single map. The primary advantage of a stakeholder map is obtaining a visual picture of all the individuals who can influence your project and their connections.
A stakeholder map is like a project's contact list that helps the project manager make decisions about how to work with different people involved in the project. It's the first step in managing stakeholders. The map helps decide things like how often to talk to them and how much they need to know.
In the map, we use a graph with two lines. One line goes up and down to show how much each person cares about the project (the top is most interested, the bottom is least interested). The other line goes from left to right to show how much each person can affect the project (left is low influence, right is high influence).
Then, each stakeholder is put on this map based on their stand on these two metrics.
You can shape your projects early on based on what the most important people think, and their input can also improve your projects.
Getting the support of influential stakeholders can help you win more resources, making your projects more likely to be successful. I will discuss this point in elaboration in the following section:
How to Do Stakeholder Analysis and Map for a UX Project?
Stakeholder analysis for a UX project has some crucial steps to follow. A proper process can help you effectively analyze your project's stakeholders. Here are the steps to follow for a proper stakeholder analysis.
Make a comprehensive list of the stakeholders. You may include the CEO, product manager, product designer, marketing manager, marketing executive, developer, engineer, etc., in the list.
They might not be equally important for your project, but aligning every stakeholder can help you create a better outcome. The crucial part is you must understand who can be a stakeholder.
Based on the interest and power of the project, categorize the stakeholders. You can refer to the chart below for a basic overview of stakeholders' power and interest in a UX project.
You should place the stakeholders into one of five categories, taking into account both their power and interest levels:
- Low power, high interest
- High power, low interest
- High power, high interest
- Medium power, medium interest
- Low power, low interest
It's crucial to recognize that not all stakeholders hold the same level of interest or power. Therefore, understanding their priority for your product is essential. So, In this segment, we will discuss how to interpret the information you received from stakeholder analysis and how to deal with it.
Low power, Low-Interest
Don't ignore low-power and low-interest stakeholders, but don't spend too much time on them. Check in occasionally to see if their interest or influence has changed. This includes the general public, who often don't know much about your project.
Low Power, High Interest
These stakeholders have little influence on your project but care about its progress. Keeping them informed, like giving them access to your website and sending monthly updates, is enough. Community groups are one example of such stakeholders.
High Power, Low Interest
The individuals in the upper left of the matrix are the big players you need to keep satisfied. They have major control over your project due to finances and permits. They're like the building department, not caring much about your project's success but having a big say in your ability to stay on track and on budget.
High Power, High Interest
You are obligated to maintain the satisfaction of the stakeholders in the upper right corner of the matrix and to engage with them actively and discuss with them. These stakeholders are the "big dogs," and they have the potential to or will almost certainly have a considerable influence over your project. These individuals consist of financing agencies, higher management, and (often) your client base.
Once you have completed the prioritization of stakeholders, the next step is to analyze them based on their respective roles. Create a list that includes each stakeholder's name, designation, level of influence, and the extent to which you need to satisfy their requirements.
For instance, consider the CEO who wields the greatest influence over the product you are developing; therefore, your primary focus should be on satisfying their needs. Similarly, the product manager holds a significant level of influence over the product, which underscores the importance of maintaining regular communication with them throughout the project.
If you have a problem analyzing stakeholders' positions in your matrix, you can make a spreadsheet, categorize them, and give values according to the following questions:
Based on the answers, you can decide how to involve or communicate with them while working on the project.
This section is dedicated to mapping stakeholders based on their priorities, facilitating a better understanding of the extent of input required from them. The subsequent flow chart provides a fundamental stakeholder mapping.
You can categorize stakeholders into three priority levels: high priority, medium priority, and low priority.
The composition of the priority group is not consistently universal, necessitating careful consideration of the project type when determining priorities.
In order to craft a stakeholder map, you have the option of utilizing either Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. Please consult the accompanying map below, which employs a standardized scale of 1 to 10 for gauging both interest and power. The greater a stakeholder's placement on the map, the higher their priority.
The process of mapping stakeholders, engaging in collaboration with them, and soliciting feedback from them is instrumental in refining your project. As such, the following section delves into the advantages of conducting stakeholder analysis and mapping.
How Does Stakeholder Analysis Make Your Project More Successful?
These are some of the crucial ways in which stakeholder analysis makes your project more successful.
Setting The Proper Objectives and Priorities
The analysis of stakeholders is the preliminary stage in the UX design process as a whole. It aids in comprehending the primary product/service owner's vision and defining the different goals, such as business objectives, user objectives, and product/service objectives.
Improving communication with the product owner is crucial to the UX design process. Collaboration and bonding with stakeholders increase both parties' confidence and appreciation, which helps to comprehend and validate the design efforts.
Taking Calculated Risks
The interaction with project stakeholders aids in managing the project's unidentified risk. The owner can evaluate all the benefits and drawbacks, as well as the consequences, of revising any important decision made previously to mitigate risk.
Prevention of Conflict and Mismanagement
Even the most promising projects could be jeopardized by inter-organizational conflict. Before beginning a project, analyzing the stakeholder model helps to identify potential grounds for contention. This enables you to identify the best angle to convince top executives or anyone else who may require additional persuasion.
Expectation management can also be accomplished via stakeholder mapping. Stakeholder mapping allows you to see where each group stands in relation to the project at any given time. Therefore, a project manager can gradually address these expectations as the project is carried out, bringing them into line with the project to ensure that the deliverables satisfy everyone involved.
When ideas and thought processes are shared with stakeholders, and their input is also heard for every given project, this helps owners realize the caliber of the UX designer or team. This practice aids in gaining the confidence of stakeholders.
Saves Money and Time
The discussion with project stakeholders offered the appropriate contrast to his perspective on the undertaking. It narrowed the scope of assumptions and presumptions. Consequently, fewer errors and redos are made.
Hopefully, this discussion will help you understand how to do stakeholder analysis and mapping for UX design. Be sure to get their input as it helps align your design process with the project's goals.
Moreover, mapping stakeholders is your secret weapon for managing expectations effectively. By understanding each stakeholder's role and position in the project, you can gradually address their needs and ensure everyone is content with the final results.