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How to Identify the Stakeholders in Your Business Analysis Project

The business analysis project participants also have project-related roles and duties that are separate (although related) from their professional responsibilities. Just like actors in a play, stakeholders have roles in the project. Someone may have the title of Retail Sales Person Level 1, but they’re the subject matter experts for the retail sales project, which ends up being their role in the project.

You use two main steps in identifying your cast of stakeholders: a stakeholder list and an RACI matrix.

How to find stakeholders of your business analysis

The first thing to do is look for all the stakeholders (anyone who impacts or is impacted) on the project. A stakeholder is a group or person who has interests that may be affected by an initiative or has influence over it. Stakeholders can be found anywhere for a project.

If you identify a group or department, make sure you identify the correct individual stakeholders within a stakeholder group. Someone has to be the point person.

Here’s how to create a stakeholder list:

  1. Analyze the project documentation.

    Look for people, groups, departments, customers, and project team members affected by the project. Note: Go directly to Step 2 if no documentation is available.

  2. Pull project team members together to brainstorm about other affected parties that aren’t included in the documentation.

  3. Make a stakeholder list.

    Your list should include the stakeholder, whether he has sign-off authority, and how he’s affected by the project (his stake).

You may also want to include a “Notes” column in your stakeholder list to keep track of effective ways of communicating with the stakeholder or other reminders. Just be careful about what you write and with whom you share the notes; you don’t want your personal notes to be taken the wrong way or end up in the wrong hands.

[Credit: Illustration by Wiley, Composition Services Graphics]
Credit: Illustration by Wiley, Composition Services Graphics

How to use the RACI matrix for business analysis

Another tool you can use is an RACI matrix. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. It’s basically a chart that shows the different responsibilities people hold on your project. By thinking through the chart and presenting it to the project team as an official deliverable, you can help everyone understand who’s doing what on the project.

You and the stakeholders should create the matrix together to ensure that it’s accurate and that everyone is on the same page.

Here’s how to assemble an RACI matrix:

  1. List all the actions or responsibilities needed for the project along the left side of the page.

  2. List all the stakeholders for the project along the top of the page.

  3. Fill in each box with R, A, C, or I to describe the person’s level of responsibility.

    Each letter corresponds to a level of responsibility:

    • Responsible: The actual person performing the work. For instance, in the case of the requirements package, the business analyst is generally responsible for the work. For the technical documentation, it’s usually the implementation subject matter expert.

    • Accountable: The one ultimately answerable for the correct completion of the deliverable or task and who delegates the work to the responsible party. This person also approves (signs off on) the deliverable or task. You can specify only one accountable for each task or deliverable.

    • Consulted: Those whose opinions are sought, typically subject matter experts, and with whom you have two-way communication. Your project support personnel are typically consulted parties.

    • Informed: Those who are kept up-to-date on progress. This communication is usually one-way — for example, the business analyst informs the external stakeholders that the requirements phase is complete.

  4. Distribute the matrix to all stakeholders.

    This dissemination keeps everyone on track and informed.

    [Credit: Illustration by Wiley, Composition Services Graphics]
    Credit: Illustration by Wiley, Composition Services Graphics

Roles aren’t 100-percent exclusive. Remember, these roles are just parts in the overall project play. Just like some actors play multiple roles in films (Mike Myers in the Austin Powers movies comes to mind), stakeholders on a project may wear multiple hats and play different roles.

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