The continuing professional development (CPD) planning process is a creative, complex effort that requires careful consideration of how to make sure the right stakeholders have a seat at the table. Broad stakeholder involvement is critical as a CPD program requires cross-departmental coordination along with external stakeholders to operate effectively and enhance outcomes. Collaboration and communication among CPD stakeholders lend itself to interdisciplinary, interprofessional healthcare education and patient-centered care (AHRQ, 2014).
Who Are CPD Stakeholders?
CPD stakeholders are individuals and groups, both inside and outside the organization, who can influence the success of CPD implementation. It can also be anyone who is impacted by CPD, like the target audience or others who will benefit from the intervention. Your communication with different CPD stakeholders will help identify the educational need/gap, select an appropriate learning format, design outcome measurements or account for professional and/or legal regulations that are part of the CPD landscape.
What Is a Stakeholder Analysis?
A stakeholder analysis is the visual process of laying out all the stakeholders of a project or program on one map (Blomquist, 2020). It is an exercise to help you determine who your stakeholders are and how much engagement, communication or consideration they need. The main benefit of a stakeholder analysis is to create a visual representation of all the people who can influence the project and how they are connected to your CPD. By mapping and prioritizing your stakeholders, you can focus your attention in the most impactful way before the CPD project planning begins.
The stakeholder map is a four-quadrant, influence-interest matrix used to identify stakeholders and categorize them in terms of their influence and interest in the program (Figure 1). The y-axis determines the level of interest, from highest on the top to lowest on the bottom — meaning how much the stakeholders are impacted by the outcome of the project. The x-axis of the grid measures the stakeholder’s level of influence, or how much can the stakeholder impact the project, from low (left side) to high (right side).
Stakeholders are then plotted on this map depending on how they fall on those two metrics.
Figure 1. Stakeholder Map
A stakeholder map is the first step toward stakeholder management in that it defines the stakeholder’s relationship to the project. It will inform every decision a project manager makes regarding their stakeholders, including the frequency of their meetings and how much information they are given about the project. You want to group stakeholders according to their levels of participation, interest and influence in the CPD. Then you determine how to best involve and communicate with each of these stakeholder groups throughout the CPD project.
Manage Closely Quadrant (in upper right quadrant):
Stakeholders in this quadrant have a High Interest + High Influence in your CPD program. You should involve these stakeholders extensively throughout the CPD planning process. You need to invest most of your time regularly communicating, consulting and collaborating with them on your CPD. An example of this type of stakeholder could be your direct boss supporting you with the implementation of your CPD.
Keep Satisfied (in upper left quadrant)
These stakeholders have High Interest + Low Influence in your CPD program. Address these stakeholders’ concerns with your CPD. You will need to make sure they are happy and will remain an advocate for your CPD by regularly communicating and consulting with them by addressing their concerns. An example of this type of stakeholder could be an accounting staff member interested in your CPD who does not have much influence in your CPD outside of seeking to ensure your budget is being effectively managed.
Keep Informed (in lower right quadrant)
These stakeholders have Low Interest + High Influence in your CPD. Involve these stakeholders with your CPD on an as needed basis. You need to make sure they have the information they need and are not worried about your CPD by engaging them on an as needed basis with the CPD. An example of this type of stakeholder could be the head of marketing who may not have much interest in your program but has influence by supporting the program’s marketing efforts to generate participation.
Monitor (in lower left quadrant)
These stakeholders have Low Interest + Low Influence in your CPD. Keep these stakeholders informed on your CPD as needed. You should spend the least amount of time and resources on them unless they can be moved up to upper left and become an advocate if you were to share essential information and contacting them. An example of this type of stakeholder could be customer service support staff who do not have interest or influence in your CPD program and are just assisting customers with their questions regarding your program.
The Importance of Stakeholder Analysis
Stakeholder analysis is important because stakeholders are important to the success of a project. There are usually many stakeholders, which means many and varied expectations and communication needs (Griebenow, et al., 2017). Without mapping stakeholders in relation to their influence and interest in the project, you will have a hard time communicating with them and might inadvertently cause a conflict or breakdown in trust.
But it is also a two-way street. Having good communications with stakeholders gives project managers much-needed insight into the project, which can help in innumerable ways, such as discovering the stakeholder’s real goals for the project or advancing the project forward through resistance.
In other words, stakeholder mapping is the start of an effective communication plan. Projects cannot succeed if there is little to no communication. The better the communication, the smoother the project will proceed and the easier it will be to understand your stakeholders’ desires.
Stakeholder mapping is also a way to manage expectations. By mapping out your stakeholders, you know how they stand regarding the project. Therefore, as the project is executed, a project manager can incrementally deal with those expectations, bringing them in line with the project so everyone is satisfied with the deliverables.
Keeping different stakeholders involved throughout the CPD process is instrumental to a successful activity and program.
Stakeholder Analysis Exercise
Case 1: New Chief Learning Officer on Team
A new chief learning officer (CLO) has been hired to join the team. The CLO has been informed that the team has been without a leader for over a year and that the development and delivery of over 20+ programs has been done with limited-to-no oversight from a leader.
As their incoming program assistant, you have been tasked to ensure the CLO understands all the team's 20+ programs and their performance from the past year for revenue and program evaluations.
Hint: In this situation, the CLO should be managed closely as a high interest and high influence stakeholder.
- Which stakeholders should you have a conversation with and why, to understand the 20+ program offerings and their performance?
- What critical information should be presented to the CLO?
Case 2: Unresponsive Faculty
Your conference keynote speaker, a world-renowned expert in her field, disclosed a relevant financial relationship on her disclosure form. Your organization requires peer review of their presentation to mitigate the conflict of interest. However, the speaker has yet to respond or provide their slides despite multiple requests from CME staff. The conference is now one week away.
Hint: As you navigate this case, your different stakeholders will be managed closely or keep informed.
- Who might be considered a stakeholder beyond the speaker and the staff member?
- As the staff member, which of these other stakeholders should you reach out to first for help? Explain why.
- What methods, language and/or resources could help you obtain the slides and accomplish the peer review step?
- If the speaker does not provide content in time for a review, which stakeholder(s) should be contacted first?
Case 3: New Program Idea
In your last program needs assessment, you identified a critical gap in care. As the director of CME, you plan out several innovative education formats that could help close the gap in care.
Hint: This case is challenging as it covers the full spectrum of the stakeholder map. Think carefully as to who you need to approach for information only (monitor or keep informed) versus stakeholders who will have an active role (keep informed, manage closely and keep satisfied).
- Which stakeholders should you have a conversation with about the gap in care, intervention and format designs?
- Which stakeholders should you approach first?
- What critical information should be presented to each stakeholder group?
Using Your Stakeholder Analysis
In conclusion, identify and involve your stakeholders early for your CPD to be successful. Be clear about what you want from each stakeholder and share the expectations with them to get their support of the CPD. Plan how and when you will interact with each of your stakeholders. When planning communications, adapt your style and frequency, as necessary, based on the stakeholder analysis. Lead with integrity; meaningful engagement requires trust.
AHRQ. (2014). Designing Care Management Entities for Youth with Complex Behavioral Health Needs. AHRQ. Retrieved May 10, 2022 from https://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/chipra/demoeval/what-we-learned/implementation-guides/iplementation-guide2/implguide2pt3.html.
Blomquist, B. (2020). How to do a Stakeholder Mapping Exercise. Jambo. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://blog.jambo.cloud/stakeholder-mapping-exercise.
Griebenow R, Campbell C, McMahon GT, et al. Roles and Responsibilities in the Provision of Accredited Continuing Medical Education/Continuing Professional Development. J Eur CME. 2017;6(1):1314416. Published 2017 May 4. doi:10.1080/21614083.2017.1314416
Case exercises provided courtesy of Heather Ranels, Samantha Cribari-Starr and Debbie Platek, as presented part of the Career Pathway Series 201: Designing and Managing a CPD Program.