Stakeholder Types

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In this lesson, we'll review the difference between internal customers, external customers and stakeholders. We'll use the interest-influence matrix to identify stakeholder types. 

Stakeholder vs Customer


Customers: people who receive our product, service or information

Customers may be external or internal to our company.

External customers, or simply "the customers", are typically your paying customers. They purchase a good, product or service from your company.

You may have additional external customers, like regulatory agencies or external auditors, who have some control over your companies' operations or who may receive information from your company.

Internal customers are people who work within your company, your co-workers. They may be within your workgroup or in another department. They rely on you for information in they need to complete their work or task.

Stakeholder: a person or group of people in a position to influence your project or who may be impacted by your project. 

A customer is also a stakeholder. The customer receives a good, product or service, influences your project AND is impacted by your process improvements.

Interest-Influence Matrix


To help us understand our stakeholders, we use the interest-influence matrix. This helps us gauge each stakeholders level of interest, either positive or negative. It also helps us understand their level of influence. The first step is identifying our stakeholders.

We’re going to review each of the 6 types of stakeholders.

On the matrix, you'll see that we have stakeholders who are highly interested or supportive of our effort, but we also have stakeholders who are disinterested or may be unsupportive.

Low or Neutral Interest: Observers & Influencers

  • Observers and Influencers may be fairly neutral on their level of interest or disinterest. Or maybe they just haven't formed an opinion yet.

- Observers are typically not directly impacted by project.
- Influencers are generally seen as influential or trusted in the organization but may not be directly impacted by this project.

High Positive Interest: Supporters & Champions

  • Supporters and Champions have a greater, positive interest in your effort.

- Supporters have minimal influence on your project.
- Champions have a high level of influence and often make excellent sponsors and change agents.

High Disinterest: Troublemakers & Disrupters

  • Troublemakers and Disrupters are uninterested or unsupportive.

- Troublemakers have minimal influence and just make a lot of noise. They create a distraction.
- Disrupters are influential and present a big risk to your project’s success.

While your stakeholders may be supportive or unsupportive now, we have an opportunity to influence these stakeholders ourselves.

We want to keep the interested stakeholders engaged. We want to leverage those who are influential to support our cause.

Gather your project team. Using the template, list all of your stakeholders. You may list individuals (Supervisor of Accounting, Business Analyst) or groups of individuals (Contracts Department, Billing Team). Identify each stakeholders' current Stakeholder Type.

Download the Stakeholder Engagement & Communication Template to list your stakeholders and their stakeholder type.

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