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Q. Can I use SARM without including stakeholders?

A. Yes, though you will miss out on some potentially valuable perspectives when you reach the trade-off analysis.  If you don’t want to name stakeholders and associate them with requirements, just leave cells E3 to S3 of the ‘Context’ worksheet blank, and you can move on to the next step of the SARM process once you have described and categorised all the requirements and determined their impact.

Q. How can I add more than 15 stakeholders?

A. You can’t.  Do not try adding rows or columns into any of the spreadsheet tabs, as the whole spreadsheet links information across the different tabs.  Adding a row into one tab (worksheet) will damage the integrity of the information that is used across tabs.  Most projects or initiatives have more than 15 stakeholders, and we suggest you begin your stakeholder analysis on a whiteboard without considering these limitations.  When you have identified all stakeholders you should identify those stakeholders that are particularly interested in, or affected by, the solution for inclusion in SARM.  if you have more than 15 of these, consider how you can cluster them together.  If their attitude towards the project or initiative will be very similar, you could group them together and give them a single group name.  You should find it possible to reduce a large number of key stakeholders into 15 or fewer clusters, which might have names like ‘major vendors’, ‘strategic clients’, ‘executive management’.

Q. Didn’t SARM used to apply a particular stakeholder analysis model?  Why has it disappeared?

A. Yes, SARM was originally designed with the Mitchell, Agle and Wood stakeholder model built into it.  The trade-off analysis then provided abstracted views of stakeholder perspectives for stakeholder salience and classes.  However, the benefit of abstraction is marginal when we are only concerned with 15 stakeholders.  It is almost as easy to look across 15 rows, reflecting the actual stakeholders, as it is across 7 rows representing the stakeholders aggregated by class.  Removing the model from SARM reduces the amount of effort needed to complete an architecture analysis, while freeing users from having to use a particular stakeholder analysis model with SARM.  If you’d like to know more about how to use the Mitchell, Agle and Wood model for stakeholder analysis, read this article.

Q. Where did the SARM stakeholder model come from?

A. The paper that first described this model was published by Ronald K. Mitchell of University of Victoria and Bradley R. Agle and Donna J. Wood of University of Pittsburgh in the Academy of Management Review 1997, Vol. 22, No. 4, 853-886.  It is entitled ‘Towards a theory of stakeholder identification and salience: defining the principle of who and what really counts’.  If you are interested in reading more about using stakeholder analysis, I suggest you start with Strategic Management by R. Edward Freeman.

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