Help Files

Visualization: the Stakeholder Circle

Detailed Methodology

The top 15 stakeholders (based on their priority) are selected for display in the Stakeholder Circle™ – this number was selected based on the theories associated with ‘span of command’, a practical view of the ‘reasonable maximum’ number of stakeholders a project team can actively manage and the need to produce a useable diagram that is not too complex. Whilst the actual Stakeholder Circle is limited to 15 stakeholders:

  • All active stakeholders are considered during the engagement phase of the methodology, and
  • All active stakeholders are listed in the system and normal printed reports.

Reading the Stakeholder Circle

The data collected through the identification and prioritization processes enables a map of the key members of the stakeholder community to be developed. The outcome of the visualization process is the Stakeholder Circle, a diagram designed to facilitate decisions on where the project team need to concentrate their stakeholder management effort.

The stakeholder allocated Priority #1 starts at the top center of the chart (12 o’clock position) and is shown as the first colored segment moving clockwise. Stakeholder #2 comes next with each of the stakeholders in sequence through to #15 which completes the circle. The same stakeholders with a small sample pattern are listed in the key to the right of the ‘circle’ with #1 at the top through to #15 at the bottom.

Colors and Patterns

Color coding is essential for interpretation of the direction of influence of these key stakeholders:

  • Upwards, ie, Senior managers – are coded orange
  • Outwards, ie, Stakeholders external to the project – are coded blue
  • Downwards, ie, The project team – are coded as green
  • Sidewards, ie, The project manager’s peers – are coded purple.

Within each general categorization (eg ‘Upwards’ = orange),

  • Internal stakeholders have darker shadings (dark orange),
  • External stakeholders lighter shadings (light orange).

To differentiate stakeholders within the same categorization (eg, Upwards, Internal), a set of standard patterns are used. Each color group follows the same sequence starting with a solid color. All of the standard colors and patterns may be viewed in the database.

The allocation of a particular color / pattern is determined during the creation of the Stakeholder Circle, and is dependent on the current sequence of stakeholders in the top 15. This means the same stakeholder may have different patterns allocated at different times depending on its position in the list, and which other stakeholders are currently in the ‘top 15’.

Size and Position

The second dimension of interpretation involves addressing the size and sequence of the segments in the stakeholder map: • Stakeholders are listed in order of priority starting with #1 at 12 o’clock position and progressing clockwise to #15 • For each stakeholder:

  • If the wedge cuts the Circle, the stakeholder has power to ‘kill’ the project through withdrawal of funding, support or resources (power = 4)
  • The larger the size of the outer edge the more influence the stakeholder can wield in support of the project or in opposition to the project
  • The closer the stakeholder is to the center, the closer to the project: the team will be closer to the center; the CEO will be more remote.

The identification of the project’s stakeholders for a particular time in the project’s life, their prioritization, and their depiction in the Stakeholder Circle creates a map of the project’s key stakeholders, this is the foundation needed to develop an effective strategy for their engagement in support of the project, and thence the development and implementation of a Communication Plan.

Visit the Methodology Page to read a summary of the overall StakeholderCircle methodology.

To understand the diagram, see: Reading the Stakeholder Circle

Data Management

The Stakeholder Circle creation process is largely automatic, to create a ‘circle’ for your current data set, select ‘Create SHC’ from the Main Menu. Largely hidden from the user, the database selects the ‘Top 15’ stakeholders (these can be reviewed from the ‘View Top 15 Data’ button).

The ‘Top 15’ are then processed to generate the Stakeholder Circle: this involves up to 10,000 separate calculations and may take a few minutes on slower computers.

When the processing is complete, you are taken to the Stakeholder Circle management screen. From this screen you can:

  • View and print the Stakeholder Circle you have just created (Go Last SHC)
  • View and print any other Stakeholder Circle you have just created (Go This SHC)
  • Print a copy of the current Strip Chart as shown on the ‘management’ screen (this diagram is not saved)

To access the Stakeholder Circle diagrams after the initial one has been created (without re-processing), select ‘View Last SHC’ from the Main Menu.

View Top 15 Data

This screen is primarily intended as an error trap. If there are data problems, the processing stops at this screen. Potential problems include:

  • Less than 15 stakeholders (the calculations for the SHC require a minimum of 15 active stakeholders)
  • A stakeholder’s name is blank or ‘Required’
  • There are errors or missing data in the:
    • Index
    • Power
    • Proximity
    • Direction, or
    • Internal/External data fields

Error messages define the problems. To correct an error:

  • Click on the button ‘Stakeholder #xx’ at the beginning of the line that has an error displayed
  • You will be taken to the specific stakeholder in the ‘Prioritization List’
  • Select ‘Edit Stakeholder’ to correct the problem.

To view the Top 15, select ‘View Top 15 Data’ from the Main Menu. The system only stores the last version of the data in this location.

Create SHC / View Last SHC

Select ‘Create SHC’ from the Main Menu to process the data to create a new Stakeholder Circle (SHC)

  • If the Version Number (see Manage Version Numbers) has been updated, a new Stakeholder Circle will be created and the existing diagrams preserved
  • Otherwise, the last Stakeholder Circle will be overwritten with the new data / diagram.

Select ‘View Last SHC’ from the Main Menu jump to the Stakeholder Circle management screen without processing / re-processing the data.

Stakeholder Circle Management Screen

This screen is designed to provide access to all versions of the StakeholderCircle created to date. From this screen you can:

  • View and print latest version of the Stakeholder Circle. Select ‘Go Last SHC’ to move to the chart
  • View and print any other Stakeholder Circle you have created. Select ‘Go This SHC’ adjacent to the version you wish to view / print
  • Printing the Stakeholder Circle chart select ‘Go Last SHC’ or ‘Go This SHC’ to move to the chart:
    • To print a copy of the current Stakeholder Circle being viewed. Select ‘Print Chart’:
      • The page is formatted for A3 paper (see Print Reports help) – if your printer has different sized paper:
      • Print to Microsoft Image Writer or Adobe PDF format with A3 paper selected (this creates an image file)
      • Then scale the saved image file using Microsoft Image Writer or Acrobat Reader to suit the available paper size
      • A free PDF writer, CutePDF is available from
    • After printing, you can:
      • Return to the Stakeholder Circle management screen; select ‘View SHC List’
      • Go to the Main Menu
      • Step through the saved Stakeholder Circle reports by selecting Previous / Next

Help (email only – 24 Hrs)

Help is available to all Stakeholder Circle users – we will attempt to answer your questions within a 24 hr period. To access help in the first instance email your question to:

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