Salience Model

A stakeholder is defined as anyone with an interest in your project or program. They may be working directly on the project, or have their interests impacted positively or negatively by the project. The bigger that project you’re responsible for, and the more complex the organization in which you’re working, the more attention you should pay to stakeholder management. You can project manage the execution of your project perfectly, but failure to manage the expectations of a powerful stakeholder can result in your project being perceived as a failure.

A problem facing project managers, especially in large projects, is how to communicate effectively with all the different stakeholders, who all have competing communication needs that they expect you, as the project manager, to fulfil. The Salience Model attempts to solve this problem by categorizing stakeholders according to their prominence. It works by rankingh stakeholders according to their power, legitimacy, and urgency.

  • Power: to influence the project deliverables or the organization
  • Legitimacy: of their interaction with the project and it’s appropriateness
  • Urgency: of their communication requirements

These categories overlap, and we acknowledge this by placing our stakeholders into the following Venn diagram:

Salience Model Venn Diagram

As you can see, we have 7 categories of stakeholders in total (excluding non-stakeholders). We can write these groups in order of there prominence and the amount of attention you need to give each type of stakeholder as follows:

Prominance and Attention Diagram

The classes of stakeholder which need special attention are those that overlap in the Venn diagram – 4, 5, 6 and 7. Class 4 (Dominant) stakeholders not only have the power but also have a legitimate claim for communication and thus their needs should be taken into account. Class 5 (Dangerous) stakeholders have the power, the need for time critical updates, but not the legitimacy. You need to pay special attention to these stakeholders and their needs as they could be dangerous to your project otherwise, possibly using their power and influence to build a concensus perception that your project is a failure. Class 6 (Dependent) stakeholders have the urgency and legitimacy but not the power – perhaps these stakeholders are part of your project team. These need to be kept informed. Their urgency and legitimacy can be a great asset to the project.

Class 7 (Definitive) stakeholders are the most important of all. They have the power, the right to demand urgency from you or the organization, and the legitimacy to demand the communication.

As a final note, remember that the different classes of stakeholder can be gained or lost over time, they are not static, so you may need to change how you communicate with different stakeholders as the project progresses.