Stakeholder Classification Models

Various models of stakeholder classification used in the Identify Stakeholders process in project stakeholder management

Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder analysis is a technique used to identify the stakeholders, and their interest, experience and influence on the project.

Why is Stakeholder Classification important

Large projects may have hundreds or even thousands of stakeholders. Projects have limited time, and resources. Therefore, the amount of effort spent on stakeholder management and engagement needs to be prioritized. But what criteria do we use to classify the stakeholders? How do project managers determine which stakeholders have the biggest impact or influence on the project and deserve the most attention? How do project managers prioritize their attention to competing stakeholders?

These are exactly the problems that the stakeholder classification models address. It is important to prioritize the stakeholders to ensure efficient use of effort to communicate and manage their expectations. We have various models that help classify the stakeholders according to the their power, interest, impact, influence, urgency and other parameters.

Stakeholder Classification Models

Several models are available to classify stakeholders as described below.

Grid-based Models

The grid-based models are useful for small projects or projects with simple stakeholder relationships. The three common grid-based models are:

  • Power/Interest grid
  • Power/Influence grid
  • Impact/Influence grid

These grid-based models are explained in detail in PMI Library article Stakeholder analysis - a pivotal practice of successful projects and in MindTools’ article Stakeholder Analysis.

Stakeholder Cube

The three dimensions of a stakeholder cube are:

  • Power
  • Interest
  • Attitude

Mosaic Project’s post For Stakeholders, 2×2 Is Not Enough! provides a very good explanation of the Stakeholder Cube.

Salience Model

The Salience Model classifies stakeholders based on their:

  • Power,
  • Urgency, and
  • Legitimacy

Refer to Deep Fried Brain Project’s blog post The Salience Model for Stakeholder Classification for an in-depth explanation of the Salience Model.

Directions of Influence

Stakeholders can be classified based on their influence on the project or the project team. This method of classification includes:

  • Upward: Senior management, sponsor, steering committee
  • Downward: Project team members and experts working on the project
  • Outward: Suppliers, government agencies, regulators, public and end users
  • Sideward: Peers such as other project managers, and functional managers

Prioritization

Prioritizing stakeholders may be necessary when:

  • Large number of stakeholders are involved
  • Stakeholders are changing rapidly
  • Relationship with stakeholders is complex
Last updated: January 09, 2024