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What Is the Power/Interest Grid?

written by: Rupen Sharma, PMP • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 7/31/2010

Managing a project or an initiative involves various stakeholders. Some of these stakeholders are more critical than others. So, which ones should you focus on? Use the Power/Interest Grid.

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    Keeping Track of Stakeholders

    The Power/Interest Grid, which is also known as the Power/Interest Matrix, is a simple tool that helps you categorize project stakeholders with increasing power and interest in the project. This tool helps you focus on the key stakeholders who can make or break your project. In turn, this helps you in stakeholder prioritization.

    PMP Tip: The Power/Interest Grid is part of Project Communication Management as per the fourth version of the PMBOK. You should know what it is and how to apply it. Stakeholder Management is a key role of a project manager.

    During the stakeholder analysis of a project, you:

    • Document the interests and motivations of stakeholders in the project
    • Identify conflicting interests between stakeholders
    • Identify relationships between stakeholders
    • Determine the level of participation required from each stakeholder

    The Power Interest Grid in stakeholder prioritization pertains to stakeholder interests in the project. By using this matrix, you can determine which stakeholders to manage closely and which stakeholders to put minimum effort in. This helps you channel your time and energy on the stakeholders that have the most power and interest in project success.

    Next, let’s see what the Power/Interest Grid looks like.

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    Power/Interest Grid Template

    The Power/Interest Grid contains four quadrants. Each quadrant gives you an indication of the level of stakeholder management that you’ll have to employ and may also influence the type of communication style. The four quadrants of the Power/Interest Grid are shown below. (Click image for a larger view.)

    PowerInterestMatrix 

    Stakeholders that lie in the Manage Closely quadrant can easily ensure project failure, if you don’t manage them properly. For example, suppose you are the project manager of a consulting project. The sign-off authority on the deliverables is someone who’ll fall in the Manage Closely quadrant in the Power/Interest Grid. However, your business development manager (the person that got your organization the contract) does not need to be managed closely. You may want to include her in the Monitor quadrant.

    As you might have already deduced, interest is very subjective and can be error prone. You might think a certain stakeholder has a high level of interest in project success, but in relative terms, may actually not. For example, a project manager has a very high interest in ensuring the project is successful. This success would in turn impact the bottom line of the organization. The bottom line is of very high interest to the CEO and CFO. However, there are several other factors that play a role in impacting the bottom line. Therefore, in relative terms, the CEO and CFO interest will not be as interested in your project success as your Program Manager.

    Hence, identifying and gauging the interest levels of stakeholders is critical when using the Power/Interest Grid in stakeholder prioritization. As a matter of fact, there are many softskills for project manager qualifications that focus on Communication and Stakeholder Management.

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    Drawing Out Stakeholder Interests

    The following questions can help you identify the interests of stakeholders:

    • What do stakeholders expect from the project and how do they benefit?
    • Are there any conflicting interests that the stakeholder may have with the project?
    • How committed is the stakeholder to the project? Is he/she willing to commit tangible resources?
    • Are there relationship conflicts between stakeholders that can hinder the project?

    By getting answers to these questions, you’ll be able to determine the actual interests of stakeholders and manage them appropriately by using the Power/Interest Grid in stakeholder prioritization. In turn, this will reduce the project negative risk caused by stakeholder mismanagement.


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