Stakeholder Role Matrix

What is it?

A Stakeholder Role Matrix is a table matrix that lists all of the stakeholder roles needed for a project, and the associated characteristics / skills / knowledge, etc. that role is expected to contribute.  These are roles that project team believes a stakeholder should fill before a stakeholder has been found to fill that role, and are often skill or knowledge-based roles rather than the responsibility-type roles identified by a responsibility matrix.

Why do it?

Defining the stakeholder roles BEFORE you find stakeholders to fill them enables the project team to think of the projects stakeholder needs more objectively than might happen if team starts with specific people and attempts to create roles around them. This enables the project team to think of the project stakeholder needs as separate from the project stakeholders that are readily available and visible.

How do I do it?

To relate this technique, I am going to use the following scenario which is similar to past work I have done. It’s not as detailed as it could be and I have deliberately kept it simple, but it gives you an idea.


As a scenario I’ll use the concept of a financial services firm undertaking an effort to roll out a website supporting a new global campaign that is customized to their German market. I am assuming that this is an international effort and that English is the common language of the firm.

Step 1

As part of a brain-storming session with the rest of the project team, I usually begin with creating a mind-map of the stakeholder groups/types that will possibly need to be included in a project. From there I evolve the mind-map out to define (at least at a high level initially) what sort of knowledge I expect each stakeholder to have. As you can see from the mind map below I have identified initial stakeholder needs in 7 overall areas, comprising at least 17 roles with 24 specific knowledge areas. I prefer starting with a mind-map because it’s easy to create new branches, drag stakeholder groups to different levels, copy an attribute and add to others, and all of the other various things that a mind-map makes easy.

Stakeholder Role MM

Step 2

After the initial brain-storming session to create the mind-map, this is tent translated into a table structure similar to that below. You can add other specific columns or use less, whatever works for you. But I usually start with the four items below. They are:

  • Stakeholder Role Name: This is the name the stakeholder role will be referred to by.
  • Expected Stakeholder Role Knowledge: This is the specific knowledge and expertise you expect the stakeholder to bring to the project.
  • Stakeholder Role Responsibilities: These are the specific responsibilities you expect the stakeholder role to undertake.
  • Decision Maker: This is a simple Yes / No flag to indicate if you expect the stakeholder to be the key decision-maker for their area of knowledge? This is usually part of the Responsibilities column, but I like to add a separate column with the information as well so that it is easy to see just how many decision-makers I am envisioning on a project.
Stakeholder Role Name Expected Stakeholder Role Knowledge Stakeholder Role Responsibilities Decision Maker?

Step 3

As you fill in the Matrix with roles and their attributes, continue discussing each role in order to help determine if there are missing roles, knowledge, or responsibilities. This information is then used to ensure that all of the needed stakeholder roles are filled with real people, helping to eliminate the issue of some stakeholders or stakeholder perspectives not being represented. I usually use this matrix as a reference and use an actual Stakeholder Matrix to map which stakeholders are filling which stakeholder roles.

Step 4

Evaluating this matrix should be an ongoing process throughout the project, as different project phases or changes in the project structure and goals can lead to changes in the roles.

What Should the Results be?

The complete Roles Matrix looks similar to the example below.

Stakeholder Role Name Expected Stakeholder Role Knowledge Stakeholder Role Responsibilities Decision Maker?
Sponsor Should have full knowledge of the why the project is being undertaken, what the corporate goals are, what the budget is, and the expected delivery time frame. Act as key visionary and decision-maker for the project effort. Yes
Project Manager Knowledge of project management. Acts as project manager for the overall project, ensuring project is delivered on time, with full functionality, on budget. No
Technical Project Manager Knowledge of systems project management lifecycle. Supports the Project Manager by overseeing the technical aspects of the project, including systems analysis, development, testing, and deployment. May be responsible for overseeing ongoing system maintenance once deployed. No
Business Analyst Knowledge of requirements elicitation, analysis, and documentation. Preferably has strong knowledge of the international marketing domain. Elicits, analyzes, and documents business and process requirements for the new web site. Supports change management, user testing, and project management efforts. No
Systems Analyst Knowledge of web systems, web architecture, systems analysis and specification. Working with the rest of the project team, designs and proposes specifics of the system design and implementation. No
U/X Designer Deep knowledge of web site user experience analysis and design. Provide U/X expertise in the presentation of all site content to ensure best customer experience in line with firm, legal, and compliance limitations. No
German Legal Specialist Knowledge of current German financial regulatory system, especially rules and laws regarding the presentation of marketing content via the web (if any), and marketing rules in general. Provide guidelines and advice on ensuring new web site and content is in line with German financial marketing regulations.Provide Legal sign-off of final project solution before deployment “go live”. Yes
German Compliance Specialist Knowledge of current firm systems and processes in place to ensure firm stays compliant with German regulatory and legal strictures that impact the firm. Deep knowledge of marketing content compliance measures needed. Provide advice and guidelines to the project team to ensure new web site content creation, maintenance, and deployment processes meet compliance standards.Provide Compliance sign-off on final project solution and processes before deployment “go-live”. Yes
German Regulatory Language Specialist Deep knowledge of the German language as used in the financial services regulatory and legal frameworks, with the ability to translate that knowledge into English. Provide language expertise where necessary to ensure project team fully understands German regulatory codes and laws.Reviews new web site legal or regulatory content (caveats, etc) to ensure language use is appropriate and in line with regulations. No
German Financial Services Language Specialist Deep knowledge of the German language as used in the financial services industry, including acronyms, slang, and formal usage. Should have knowledge of both professional and common use of language in these areas. Provide language expertise where necessary to ensure project team fully understands German financial services industry dialect.Reviews new web site content to ensure it is easily and fully understandable by native German speakers. No
German Marketing Lead Knowledge of overall firm marketing strategy for Germany, local marketing initiatives, key marketing concerns, and local-only marketing campaigns. Provides direction to project team on new web site content that tailors global campaign message to the local market. Yes
German Marketing SME Knowledge of German marketing campaign processes, teams, and systems. Provides advice to project team on how content for new web site can be created and supported by the existing German marketing teams and processes. Or identifies gaps where new capabilities may be needed. No
German Sales Lead Knowledge of overall firm sales strategy for Germany, local sales initiatives, local sales processes, and local sales goals. Provides recommendation to project team on new web site content that tailors the content to match sales talking points, strategies, and makes it easy to incorporate into current sales processes.Provides direction and commitment on how new site content will be included in the sales process, and how that use and effectiveness will be tracked and communicated back to the senior management. Yes
German Sales SME Knowledge of German sales processes, teams, and systems. Provides advice to project team on how content can be referenced in Sales presentations, and tracked in sales systems (CRM system for example). No
Global Marketing Lead Knowledge of overall firm global marketing strategy, the specifics of this campaign in particular, and corporate goals for the campaign. Provides direction to project team on the new campaign content, what content can be localized and which must remain to global campaign standard, and how firm wants campaign effectiveness tracked. Yes
Branding Standards SME Knowledge of firm global branding standards, preferred presentation methods, and guidelines. Provide advice to the project team in order to ensure new web site meets global branding standards. No
German Web CMS SME Knowledge of the current CMS system underlying the current German web site, it’s capabilities and limitations. Provide advice to the project team of current German web site CMS capabilities, architecture, and processes. No
German Web Tracking & Analysis SME Knowledge of current German web analytics capabilities. Provide advice to the project team on the tracking capabilities and possibilities of user interaction with the new web site. No
German Web Support SME Knowledge of the current support process, maintenance processes, maintenance schedules, and current web systems architecture of the German web site. Provide advice to the project team of current German web site capabilities, architecture, and processes. No
Web Developer SME Knowledge of Javascript, HTML 5 for desktop web, HTML 5 for mobil web, creation of interactive charts and graphs for the web. Provide advice to the project team of technical limitations, best approaches, and current web development capabilities. No

The table above is a simple example. As you define more about the project goals and solution, you will be able to add more depth to the Knowledge and Responsibilities areas, or to define entirely different roles.

Please also note that one individual stakeholder can end up filling multiple stakeholder roles. For example, in the scenario above the German Marketing Manager could fill the Sponsor, German Marketing Lead, and German Financial Services Language Specialist roles (if not more).


  • The biggest risk is in not thinking of critical stakeholder roles early on, which leads to a failure to identify someone to fill that need.



  • Note that while it is certainly likely that one stakeholder may fill multiple stakeholder roles, but identifying the discreet roles first you can make sure that no roles are unfulfilled and that the stakeholder fully understands what is expected of them in the project effort.



  1. This particular process is a way I (Dave Olson) start Stakeholder Identification, so there are no references. Others may do something similar, or have described a similar specific process, but if so I have not seen it. If you know of any, please add a comment or pass them on to me so that I can cite them as references or include them as resources.



  • See the references in the Stakeholder Identification entry. It was reading those that led me to evolve this particular approach (which isn’t really unheard of from a general perspective, just not in the specifics that I have seen).


© 2013 by David Olson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *