The Process Element Series: 4 steps to identifying stakeholders

4 steps to identifying stakeholders

In this little series we’ve discussed the benefits of well documented processes, the scope, it’s owner and manager. The next element are the stakeholders.

If you’ve missed our previous posts find a small recap of the different elements below.

Why do we need Process Stakeholders

Same as with a project or a business, stakeholders are those people who have skin in the game. In other words; who does this process impact? More importantly how do we identify them?

Before we delve into the how, why is the identification of stakeholders important?

All stakeholders need to be involved when creating or revisiting a process. There are several reasons but I’ll only mention the more salient.

  • Gets more buy in
  • People will be more willing to adopt and follow the process
  • You avoid breaking stuff in the process.

Of all the 3 I believe the 3rd one is the most important and this will become more obvious further down once we’ve explored the how to identify the process stakeholders. In summary though, it will make sure that if something is changed within the process, everyone is aware of it.That means if the output of process A is an input to process B, process B is also changed and adapted accordingly. If we had to implement the change without consultation, the 2nd process would break, creating disruption and a not so favourable impression to say the least.

How to identify the process stakeholders.

Step 1: Inputs and Outputs

The best method I found is to first identify the inputs and outputs of the process. We’ll talk a bit more about these in the 6th instalment of these series. In a nutshell, the inputs and outputs are those elements, be it people, resources, reports or other materials that are:

  • Either required to execute the process; or
  • Are produced, as a result of, the process execution.

Once the 6th instalment is out, I’ll be sure to link it here for more detail.  For now let’s assume that we have successfully identified all the inputs and outputs.

Step 2: Categorize

Once you have all your inputs and outputs, the next step is to consider the following:

For each input whether:

  • it is produced by someone;
  • it is produced as a result of another process;
  • if it is a tangible physical item – who is it purchased by? Who makes sure it’s available?

For each output whether:

  • It is produced within the process itself for use within the same process;
  • It is produced to be consumed by another process;
  • It is consumed/used by someone.

Each input and output can check more than one box.

For example as part of a process I produce a report, the results of which feed into another step in the process. The same report is also consumed by my manager as well as feeds into a system that further processes that information for the use of another department altogether.  Sounds far fetched? Let’s make it real.

Let’s say the report that I’m compiling is a report of the number of support issues and the time spent per support issue, split by person within the team.

  • I will use this report to ensure that each person within the team is contributing their fair share when tackling the support queue.
  • The same report is used by my manager to gauge the resourcing, the workload and determine whose leave to approve, if we need to recruit more people etc….
  • In addition the same report is fed into a system which together with other data can determine whether the support tickets were resolved within the agreed contractual time frame with the client (as per SLA).

The same output is immediately consumed within the process and also acts as an input to two other stakeholders. These being my manager and the business owner of the system.

Step 3: Put a name on it

For each input and category combination as well as output and category combination, you must now identify the person, team or process that either produces it or consumes it.

Note systems are also stakeholders, represented by their business owners. If one day I decide to change the format of the report, my manager might be unaffected but the system would need to be modified. In that case who would be responsible to take care that such modifications are carried out? That is the system owner.

Once this step is done, you would have successfully identified 99% of all the stakeholders of the process.


Step 4: The 1%

The 1% are those stakeholders that neither produce and input nor consume the output but have a vested interest in ensuring the process works. These are usually people from management, or departments that have horizontal and overarching functions such as compliance or Internal Audit. The 1% are a bit more difficult to identify and can only be done by fully understanding how your organization works.

There you have it, you now know how to identify your stakeholders. All that’s left to do is ensure that you consult with them to ensure you have an airtight process on all fronts.

Next week, we’ll be delving into the process itself. Stay tuned.