Using a Power/Influence Grid (Power/Influence Matrix) in Stakeholder Prioritization

Using a Power/Influence Grid (Power/Influence Matrix) in Stakeholder Prioritization
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The Power/Influence Grid, which is also known as the Power/Influence Matrix in stakeholder management, is a simple tool helps you categorize project stakeholders by the power and influence they have on the project. This tool is very similar to the Power/Interest grid. The Power/Influence grid helps you focus on the key project stakeholders who can make or break your project. In turn, this helps you in stakeholder prioritizations.

By definition, power is the level of authority a stakeholder has in the project. While, influence is the level of involvement the person has.

PMP Tip: The Power/Influence Grid is part of Project Communication Management as per the 4th version of the PMBOK. You should know what it is and how to apply it.

During the Stakeholder Analysis of a project, you:

  • Document the interests and motivations of stakeholders in a project
  • Identify the stakeholders that can make the project unsuccessful
  • Identify conflicting interests and relationships between stakeholders
  • Determine the level of participation required from each stakeholder and the level of involvement each stakeholder is willing to give
  • Identify stakeholders whose influence evolves during the project
  • Determine communication media and style best suited for each stakeholder

The Power Influence Grid in stakeholder prioritization pertains to the level of influence stakeholders have on the project. By using this matrix, you can determine which stakeholders to manage closely and which stakeholders require minimum effort. This helps you channel your time and energy on the stakeholders that can make or break your project. In addition, it helps you create a communication and stakeholder strategy.

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

Power/Influence Grid

The Power/Influence Grid contains four quadrants. Each quadrant gives you an indication of the level of stakeholder management that you’ll have to employ. The four quadrants of the Power/Influence Grid or Power/Influence matrix in stakeholder management is shown below (click on image to enlarge).

Stakeholders that lie in the Manage Closely quadrant can easily ensure project failure if you don’t manage them properly. For example, suppose you’re the project manager of a software product development project. The sign-off authority on the deliverables is someone who’ll falls in the Manage Closely quadrant in the Power/Influence Grid.

As you might have already deduced, influence is very subjective and can be error prone. You might think a certain stakeholder has a high level of influence in project success, but in relative terms, may actually not. Hence, identifying and gauging the interest levels of stakeholders is critical when using the Power/Influence Grid for stakeholder prioritization.

Gauging Stakeholder Influence

The following questions can help you gauge the level of influence stakeholders have on the outcome of your project:

  • What are the responsibilities of the 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?
  • What are the consequences of the not managing a certain stakeholder?
  • Can stakeholders influence others, who are the dominant stakeholders?

By getting answers to these questions, you’ll be able to determine the actual influence of stakeholders and manage them appropriately by using the Power/Influence Grid for stakeholder prioritization. As communication is a key component of stakeholder management, read the Basic Principles of Communication article.