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Appendix A.3 Tools for identifying & understanding your audience(s)

Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholder analysis is a structured examination of the main impacts of an integration initiative. The analysis is a way of answering the question, "Who cares about this project and why?" Anyone who cares is considered a stakeholder, and the reasons they care are examined in terms of the products and features of the initiative.

What is it?

Identify impacts on stakeholders. In the analysis, you identify the impact each product or feature will have on each stakeholder group. You also examine what products will benefit or harm these groups and in what ways.

Quantify project effects. The stakeholder analysis attempts to quantify these effects. You can begin to understand what kinds of investments might lead to different outcomes. At a minimum, you should be able to understand how far the analysis will have to go before you really understand how your project will affect stakeholders.

Group work. A stakeholder analysis can be prepared by one knowledgeable person and then reviewed and refined by others. It can also be prepared in a facilitated group decision conference, where consensus decisions are made about impacts and estimates.

What is it good for?

Expand project scope. A stakeholder analysis expands the scope of a project design and strategy. Too often, information system projects are defined in terms of only one stakeholder- the agency that will build it. More often a project will be defined in terms of two stakeholders-the agency and those directly affected by the program. This is better, but still ignores a host of factors that can impinge on the final result.

Examine impacts to design better plan. There are many stakeholders in the environment of a government program, and most information systems have multiple features or products that will affect stakeholders in different ways. Some will see increased access to services, or better quality service. Others may experience higher costs or more competition for scarce resources. It is important to anticipate these effects before a full-blown project gets underway.

Expand understanding of environment. Most organizations are better at understanding internal dynamics than external ones. The stakeholder analysis pays little or no attention to the internal dimension and forces you to look outside your organizational boundaries to estimate the impacts and outcomes of a new initiative.

Predict potential results. The stakeholder analysis forces you to be specific about how various elements of a proposal will affect stakeholder groups. It helps you move from very general descriptions to more specific and measurable ones.

Identify high-priority features, stakeholders. Once you understand the different ways the proposal will affect different stakeholders, you should be able to see which areas need priority attention. You should also be able to identify measures of how your initiative will impact different stakeholders and estimate the magnitude of those effects.

Assess data needs. A full analysis provides a basis for making a rough assessment of what data is available and what other data is needed for a more complete evaluation. You will seldom be able to quantify all effects. Often even baseline data will be unavailable. The stakeholder analysis helps you see where your data is weak.

Help choose a good problem. A "good" problem is one worth the time, effort, capital, and commitment it takes to solve it. Good problems may have a number of uncertainties about them, but their main components should be readily understood. They should not be too narrowly constructed (this makes you tend to leave out important factors) or so broadly defined that they are far beyond your ability (in terms of skills, resources, or authority) to influence or solve.

Some limitations and considerations

Assumptions required. The analysis requires assumptions about causal relationships and processes . Since you have imperfect data, make educated guesses about causes and influences. Keep testing these assumptions as your project proceeds.

Qualitative and quantitative measures. Since not every effect can be reduced to a number, qualitative measures may be the only ones that make sense. The stakeholder analysis allows for both, but don't take the lazy way out by stating a qualitative gauge, when a quantitative one would be better.

First cut analysis. This analysis will give you a rough understanding of an issue or objective. If done well, it will gather and generate useful information, but it won't carry the weight of an entire project. Use some of the other tools presented in this guide to delve deeper.