Stakeholder Communications Matrix

What is it?

The Stakeholder Communications Matrix is very similar to the Project Communications Plan (or Matrix) used by project managers and is intended to define and document the business analyst’s communication plan for the business analysis work they are about to undertake.  It is one potential solution for Task 2.4 of the BABOK Guide v2.0, “Plan Business Analysis Communication”.[1]

The key difference in the use of a Stakeholder Communication Matrix as part of a business analysis plan is in the types of communications activities that occur and the outputs that are communicated.

A Project Communications Matrix will focus on project communications such as:

  • Project status updates
  • Communication of specific project deliverables such as:
    • Project Charter
    • Project Plan
    • Issue / bug logs and reports
    • Post-Implementation Reviews
    • Project Lessons Learned
  • How all of the communications above will take place
  • Who the communications above will go to

However, the Stakeholder Communications Matrix for a business analysis effort will focus on communications such as:

  • Updates on the business analysis work
  • Specifying attendee’s for:
    • Status update meetings
    • Planning meetings
    • Elicitation sessions
    • Review sessions of requirements, feasibility studies, solution assessments, etc.
  • Communicating the results of the activities above to participants and non-participants for their review
  • How all of the communications above will take place
  • Who the communications above will go to

As you can see, the two efforts are very similar and complementary.  They just have different focuses on what is being communicated.

Why do it?

The need for a communications plan is pretty well established within the project management community (if not always followed), but most Business Analysts don’t think of establishing a communications plan for the business analysis effort.  But in reality, creating a communications plan should be part of a business analysis planning effort.  This is especially true if you are working on a process improvement effort, enterprise analysis effort, benchmarking effort, or similar BA work stream that is frequently done outside the constraints of a standard project structure.

By ensuring that you have not only identified which stakeholders will participate in different communications tasks, but also which stakeholders need to informed of the outputs of the business analysis effort, the BA ensures:

  • That stakeholders are receiving the information they need or want
  • That stakeholders have the opportunity to provide additional information

By ensuring that stakeholders have the information they need or want, the BA helps to ensure they are supportive of the analysis effort and will make the necessary time and resources available to ensure it is successful.  Additionally, by keeping everyone informed throughout the process, the BA has a higher likelihood of understanding when additional time is needed for the analysis, or scope change discussions need to occur, or other unforeseen issues arise (as they always do).

A solid communication plan that is both effective and agreed to by the stakeholders is a key factor in ensuring a successful result for the analysis effort.

 

How do I do it?

The Matrix usually takes the form of a table with stakeholders along the left horizontal side, and communications activities and tasks that across the top of the table. Notes and indications fill out the rest of the table indicating what stakeholders will be taking part in different communications activities, and which stakeholders need to included in different communications results.

Step 1

Identify stakeholders.  If you don’t know your stakeholders, you don’t know who you be communicating with and you can’t form a business analysis plan.  Make sure you don’t just focus on those stakeholders who are directly affected or who need to directly participate.

The Stakeholder Identification entry in this wiki has additional information on this, and you may also want to look at the entries for Stakeholders, Stakeholder Analysis, and Stakeholder Management.

Step 2

Create the business analysis plan.  You need to know what you want to do as part of your business analysis effort before you can plan your communications.

Step 3

Create a draft communications matrix.  At a minimum your matrix should include the answers to the following questions: [1]

  • Who = What stakeholders will be communicated to
  • What = What will be communicated to the stakeholders. Consider the content, level of detail, and formality level
  • When = How often will the communication occur, or on what date(s)?
  • How = What form will the communication take? Email? Phone Call? Face to face meeting? Virtual meeting? Document?

There are number of factors that should be considered in creating your draft.  These include:

  • The type of business analysis effort being undertaken and what the appropriate communications would be
  • Stakeholder location / time zone
  • Stakeholder preferred communication method
  • What is the best way to communicate the relevant information
  • How frequently should specific communications activities take place?
  • Cultural impact on the choice of communication methods and formality
  • What are the time and resource constraints that may impact communications

Step 4

Validate your plan with the stakeholders.  It is imperative that you validate your proposed communication plan with the relevant stakeholders and get their buy-in.  You may need to make changes based on their feedback and iterate the review process until there is agreement from all stakeholders.

Step 5

Follow the plan.  Having a communications plan does you no good if you don’t follow it.  So make sure you actually follow the plan you have laid out so that your stakeholders get the communications they expect.

Step 6

Make changes as necessary.  As the business analysis effort progresses, it may be necessary to modify the communications plan.  Have new stakeholders been added?  Has an existing stakeholder had to be replaced?  Did planned dates for communication activities change?  All of these are examples of when the plan documented in a stakeholder communications matrix may need to be updated.

What Should the Results be?

The below image provides a simple example of a Stakeholder Communications Matrix. Note however that you can vary the information and layout. For example, rather than putting the date in the table, you could put the date as part of the communication even and track the different types of participation for different stakeholders (some might be physically present, some might virtually present and seeing a shared screen, and some might only be on the phone).  The idea is to make sure the matrix has the level of detail that both you AND your stakeholders need to feel comfortable with the communications plan.

StakeholderCommunicationsMatrix

Advantages

  • A Stakeholder Communications Matrix is an easy to understand resource that is easily shared and used to set expectations.
  • It also acts a reference for the business analyst to make sure they are communicating with stakeholders in the best way possible, which not only improves the quality of the business analysis effort, it also increases the stakeholder willingness to participate.

 

Disadvantages

  • I can’t think of any.

 

Tips

  • As part of your business analysis efforts, make sure to regularly check if anyone has any suggested changes to the communications plan. This ensure continuous stakeholder buy-in and may help identify missing stakeholders who should be communicated with.

 

References

  1. The Guide to the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK Guide) v2.0: Section 2.4 – Plan Business Analysis Communication. International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). Page 37-42. 2009.
  2. Article: Communication Plan. On The IT BA blog. July 16, 2010.

 

Other Resources

 



© 2013 by David Olson

2 thoughts on “Stakeholder Communications Matrix

    1. Dave Post author

      Julieta,

      Are you referring to the table in the picture? If so, it’s just a table I created in Excel. I don’t keep a standard template as I just create a new one each time so that I can tweak it to whatever seems the most effective layout for the project I am working on.

      If you were asking for something else, please clarify. 🙂 I’m glad you found something of value on the site.

      Thanks!
      Thanks!

      Reply

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