Spider Dependency

Stakeholder analysis

Stakeholder analysis is a vital component of a BA role, we have to work with a variety of stakeholders on a daily basis. When working on any project you will have stakeholders that you are dependent on, this could be due to various reasons. I often find when I am trying to map stakeholder dependency for my projects, I end up using the same tried and tested tools. By using these tools, I often find my message gets lost or that my project team finds going through my power and interest grid too boring for them and they lose interest. To avoid this happening, I had to think of a different way to present my stakeholder dependency to my project team.

I am a big fan of using visualization to communicate to your team to what you are doing. There is plenty of studies that suggest that people more likely to take interest in graphic over text. With, that in mind I did some research around this area and I came across Jimmy Janlen.

Spider dependency

My favourite tool that he wrote about in his book ’96 Visualisation examples’ is called ‘Spider dependency’. This is a good visual tool for the BA to use to help their team to identify blockers and dependencies that their project is facing.

Picture of spider dependency

Spider dependency

The tool itself is very simple to use:

  • You draw your project team in the centre.
  • Around your team draw teams/ individuals that the team is dependent or they are blocking the team in some way- stopping the team from delivering.
  • Then draw spider legs between the teams/individuals and your project team.
  • On the spider legs attach post-it notes to explain how you are being blocked by this team/individual. Every time there is a blocker add a post-it note to the spider leg.
  • Once, the blocker has been removed add it to the resolved table.
  • On weekly basis, you should review the post-it notes to understand if there are any themes to these dependencies/ blockers.
  • Review the resolved post-it notes regularly with the team to identify what lessons have been learnt from overcoming these dependencies/blockers.

You can draw the spider dependency on a whiteboard and update as and when needed. I find that by having a visual reminder on a daily basis, the team is more likely to try to resolve blockers/dependencies if it was in a document that no one would see. Also, invite other teams to review your spider dependency.

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