Stakeholder mapping

This guidance includes reasons and processes for mapping stakeholders for user engagement.

This stakeholder mapping guidance is provided by the Engagement Good Practice team from the Engagement Hub at the Office for National Statistics. If you would like further resources, information or support after reading this guidance, please contact Engagement.Hub@ons.gov.uk. The available resources include:

  • a short presentation about stakeholder mapping
  • guidance documents for stakeholder mapping
  • tools for stakeholder mapping

There are resources linked throughout this guidance, and definitions of frequently used words can be found at the end of the guidance.

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:2 February 2024
Owner:The Engagement Good Practice team
Who this is for:Anyone who is planning to engage with users of statistics
Contact:Engagement.Hub@ons.gov.uk

What stakeholder mapping is

A stakeholder map is a tool which will help you to create an engagement plan based on audience insight. In a stakeholder map, each of the stakeholders for a project are listed alongside a contact level, based on the level of interest and potential effect they have. The stakeholder map will inform your decision making around what engagement is needed for the project and when.

Why stakeholder mapping is important

Engaging the right stakeholders at the right time during your project can make a big difference to how your project is completed and received. Communicating with stakeholders effectively will help to ensure project objectives are met and that your project is received positively. By creating and regularly updating a stakeholder map for your project, you will understand:

  • who the stakeholders are for the project
  • what role each stakeholder has
  • what type of involvement the stakeholder should have
  • how much the stakeholder should be contacted

You will use this information to write a stakeholder engagement plan.

When to map stakeholders

Stakeholder mapping should always take place at the start of a project, once the objectives have been set. It will provide audience insight for the engagement plan, which should be written after completing the stakeholder map. After you have written the engagement plan, you should review the stakeholder map regularly to make sure it is still accurate.

Which stakeholders to map

The word ‘stakeholder’ refers to those you work with or those who may be affected by or involved in your project. For example, this could be:

  • Government Statistical Service (GSS) organisations
  • individual professionals
  • other users of statistics

It is essential that you identify who the stakeholders are for a project. We recommend that you discuss this with your project team and take a three-step approach.

Step 1: Define what the word ‘stakeholder’ means for your project

You should make sure that this aligns for everyone working on the project.

For example, consider whether you will:

  • map internal or external stakeholders
  • map organisations or individuals
  • include current stakeholders, or potential stakeholders
  • have a minimum level of interest or involvement for stakeholders to be mapped

Step 2: Define how you will group your stakeholders

You may wish to define the groups, sectors or themes that stakeholders fit into. Grouping stakeholders will make it easier to:

  • list stakeholders systematically, so you do not miss any
  • view stakeholders in a colour-coded map or create lists of stakeholder groups to consider separately when writing an engagement plan
  • target stakeholders in the engagement plan based on the context of their involvement with the project

An example of defining stakeholders by sector can be seen in the stakeholder definitions template. You can download a template of the stakeholder definitions table to use for your own project.

Step 3: List each stakeholder

Once your team have defined which stakeholders will be mapped, work together to list each stakeholder in the stakeholder recording template.

How to map stakeholders

Once you have listed the stakeholders for your project, you will add them to a stakeholder map. This will show the amount of contact each stakeholder needs. Stakeholders’ positioning will be based on scores that your team allocate for their level of influence or interest, and impact for the project.

The stakeholder mapping matrix. A four quadrant graph with “impact” on the y-axis and influence or interest on the x-axis. The top of the scale for each axis is labelled “high”, and the bottom is labelled “low”. The top left quadrant is “consult with”, the top right is “manage closely”, the bottom right is “keep satisfied” and the bottom left is “keep informed”.

Categories for scoring

You will assign scores to stakeholders based on two categories:

  • either influence or interest
  • impact

The categories that you select will be the same for all stakeholders on the stakeholder map.

Impact should always be measured. This is because you must always consider how much stakeholders may be able to challenge or support the implementation of your project.

What we mean by influence, interest and impact

Influence

Influence refers to the way the project is completed and received by others at the end stages.

Your considerations should include whether the stakeholder could change:

  • public discussions about the project
  • the way the project is completed
  • the final outcomes of the project
Interest

Interest refers to the level of investment stakeholders may have in the project.

Your considerations should include whether the stakeholder:

  • relies on your statistical product for their own purposes
  • regularly uses your outputs for progressing their work or understanding
  • uses your output to engage with their audiences
Impact

Impact refers to the potential effect a stakeholder could have on the way your project is completed or received in each stage, or how much your project could affect the stakeholder.

Your considerations should include whether the stakeholder:

  • could change the way your project is completed if they decide to intervene
  • sits on a directorial team or board which governs your work
  • has connections with influential people in your project area
  • may need to change their work based on the outcome of your project
  • may need to protect their reputation based on the outcomes of the project

Scoring stakeholders

There are two methods that we suggest for scoring your stakeholders. You should select the method which makes sense for how much time you have, and the approach you would like to take. Both methods will allocate a contact level for each stakeholder on your stakeholder map.

Scaled stakeholder scoring

Using the scaled stakeholder scoring method will provide you with a set of averaged scores for more objective decision making. The final scores will become co-ordinates for the stakeholder mapping matrix to create a map of stakeholders with assigned contact levels.

Scores range from 1 to 10, where 1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest.

0 is present for scale, but stakeholders without any influence, interest or impact should not be added to the map. 10 would indicate a substantial level of influence, interest or impact, so is unlikely to occur often. Most scores will be between 1 and 9.

The scaled scoring process steps:

  1. Appoint three scorers to provide scores for each stakeholder.
  2. Provide scores from 1 to 10 for interest or influence, and then impact.
  3. Average each stakeholder’s scores for interest or influence, and impact.
  4. Use the average scores as stakeholder co-ordinates for the stakeholder map.
  5. Create the stakeholder map using the stakeholder mapping tool.

You will need the following resources to complete this:

Descriptive stakeholder scoring

Using the descriptive stakeholder scoring method will assign stakeholders a level of contact based on how many statements they meet in each category. You will select the contact level in which stakeholders meet the most statements. This is because too much contact presents less of a risk than too little contact.

The descriptive stakeholder scoring steps:

  1. Select influence or interest to compare to impact and assign each a colour.
  2. Highlight all statements that apply to the stakeholder for each category.
  3. Count the highlighted statements in each contact level.
  4. Assign the contact level with the most statements highlighted.
  5. Set a date to review the contact level after engagement has started.
  6. Manually add the stakeholder into the correct section of the stakeholder map.

You can download the descriptive stakeholder scoring document, which contains an example of completed scoring, and the scoring sheet template.

You will need the following resources to complete this:

Contact levels for stakeholders

Once you have scored stakeholders, the stakeholder map will indicate their contact level. You should review the stakeholders’ positioning as a project team and decide if the contact levels are suitable. Adjust stakeholders’ positioning if you need to, then record your reason in the stakeholder recording template.

Manage closely

A stakeholder in this category:

  • will have a high level of interest in the topic area or project, or a high level of responsibility or knowledge within the topic area
  • may have mutual contacts whose agreement is vital to the project
  • may be a partner on the project
  • may be advising you on the project or acting as a consultant
  • may have the same governance as you, or work on the same topic
  • may have work or reputation with a risk of notable impact from project outcomes

Consult with

A stakeholder in this category:

  • will have a low level of interest in the topic area or project, or a low level of responsibility within the topic area
  • may have mutual contacts whose agreement is vital to the project
  • may be affected by the outcome of the project
  • may be able to influence the reputation or reception of the project

Keep satisfied

A stakeholder in this category:

  • will be part of similar workstreams or working groups or have subject expertise
  • will have knowledge on aspects of the project area which they can share
  • will be eager to work with you on this or other related projects
  • is unlikely to have shared important contacts who can directly impact the project
  • may be in contact with your organisation or discussing your organisation

Keep informed

A stakeholder in this category:

  • sometimes engages with your organisation’s outputs in the project area
  • may subscribe to related newsletters
  • may subscribe to news updates on your organisation or team’s work
  • may comment on or question the organisation’s work from time-to-time
  • may work in the project area
  • may be interested in the future of the project or topic area

The headings included in this guide are used by the Government Communication Service (GCS). The terms used in other maps that you view may vary depending on the profession the creators belong to, but stakeholders’ position on the map should indicate the same level of contact. A more detailed description of what each contact level means is available in the stakeholder contact levels document.

Explaining your decisions

You should record the reason for each stakeholder’s score in the stakeholder recording template, with the moderator’s name and the date the decision was made. This should be a concise sentence.

For example, you could write: “Company has multiple projects which use our output of statistics, and they contact our organisation monthly with queries on methodology. Joe Bloggs, 12 November 2023.”

Recording the reason for your decision will help make the mapping process transparent, justifiable, and traceable. This is important if the stakeholder map is passed on to another team, or the team members on the project change.

If you are sharing your map with other people, you should create an accessible scored stakeholder list to go with it. If you need a template for this, you can contact the engagement good practice team at Engagement.Hub@ons.gov.uk.

Freedom of information requests

You should consider that correspondence and tools used in the scoring process may be shared if the stakeholder submits a relevant freedom of information request (FOI). You should carefully consider the words you use when you discuss stakeholders. For example, you should avoid using words like ‘not important’ or ‘irrelevant’, as these may appear negative to readers.

You can find out more about Freedom of Information requests on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

Next steps

Once you have completed the stakeholder map, you should:

  • share it with the project team and review each stakeholder’s position
  • change the position of stakeholders on the map as needed, recording your reasoning
  • use the stakeholder map to create an engagement plan
  • review and refresh the stakeholder map regularly throughout your project

Additional resources

Stakeholder mapping and engagement plans

Ensuring Effective Stakeholder Engagement on the Government Communication Service website may help you to further develop your knowledge of stakeholder mapping and engagement planning.

If you would like guidance or support with how to create a stakeholder map or an engagement plan, please contact Engagement.Hub@ons.gov.uk.

Glossary of terms

Engagement

Engagement includes any communication that you have with your stakeholders. This may be completed over a range of different communication points and channels across the timeline of your project. For example, you may send out information in an email or newsletter, meet with stakeholders, run a consultation, hold events, or advertise on social media. All these different types of communication are classed as engagement.

Map

When we refer to a map, we are talking about a stakeholder engagement matrix. You can see an example of this in the ‘how to map stakeholders’ section of this guidance. This is a four-quadrant plot which shows four different levels of communication. You will place your stakeholders onto one of the four quadrants, and contact them based on the heading of that quadrant: manage closely, consult with, keep satisfied, or keep informed.

Scores

In this document, ‘scores’ are how stakeholders’ positioning on the map is decided. Scoring systems rank stakeholders’ potential involvement in a project based on their levels of interest, influence and impact. Within this document, scores are added using a scale from 1 to 10, and by meeting multiple criteria from written statements.

Stakeholder

A stakeholder is anyone that you work with, or anyone that works with your product. That includes producers and users of statistics from all backgrounds. When planning communication for a project, you should focus on the stakeholders who fit onto the stakeholder map. This will be based on their level of influence or interest, and impact.

  • If you would like us to get in touch with you then please leave your contact details or email Analysis.Function@ons.gov.uk directly.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.