Managing stakeholder collaboration

People skills is a must for every business analyst.

As a business analyst, you would have to work with numerous stakeholders, these stakeholders would have various levels of importance.

Identifying these levels is importance because it influences the change. Identifying these levels is not easy but the RACI matrix can help.

The RACI matrix is used to identify responsibility levels of various stakeholders in a change.

RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted and informed.

  1. Responsible: the responsible stakeholders are those people who complete the task.
  2. Accountable: the accountable stakeholders signs off on the task.
  3. Consulted: the consulted stakeholders are usually subject matter experts who are typically consulted on information.
  4. Informed: while the informed stakeholders are people who need to be kept informed on the progress of the task.

Once the stakeholder groups have been identified, the business analyst has to continuously collaborate with these group of stakeholders throughout the change.

The business analyst has to actively manage the stakeholders to ensure that they maintain that a good working relationship and remain involved in the change.

Poor working relationships with stakeholders can have a detrimental effect on the change. It could lead to resistance to change, lack of support, strong negative reaction and failure to provide quality information.

There are three elements which can help with managing stakeholder collaboration and they are:

1. Gain agreements on commitments: It takes time and resources for stakeholders to participate in business analysis activities.

The business analyst has to work with the stakeholders to agree on these time and resource commitments.

The business analyst has to be efficient at negotiation, communication and conflict resolution for effective stakeholder management.

2. Monitor stakeholder engagement: The business analyst has to actively monitor the stakeholders to ensure that the stakeholders are staying interested and commitments are maintained.

The stakeholders also have to be monitored to ensure that their responsibility levels are assigned properly and have not changed due to changing job roles or circumstances.

3. Collaboration: Its never easy to come into a new organisation, meet a bunch of people and build a good relationship with them. Building relationships takes time and effort but time is something that you don’t have when working on a solution.

A solution is a project with time, cost and quality constraints, so how do you build a good relationship when you don’t have the time ?

That is where collaboration comes in, the business analyst has to encourage the free flow of ideas, information and innovations among stakeholders so that they feel heard.

The stakeholders have to feel like their opinions matter and their contributions are recognized.

Collaboration involves frequent, regular and bi-directional communication which would help maintain the flow of information.