VSJ – April 2007 – Work in Progress

Jean Davison and David Deeks of Sunderland University (an IAP Partner) report on the latest developments in PISO – Stakeholder Identification and Analysis (pisoSIA®).

PISO has seen a number of developments since we last reported on pisoMETRICS in the April 2005 issue of VSJ. Here, as promised but somewhat belatedly, we update a report that appeared in VSJ for May 2003 concerning an approach for stakeholder identification and analysis (SIA). Subsequent to that article, this has been developed into a fully documented method, trademarked as pisoSIA®. The method is of use to any organisation needing to ensure that all possible stakeholders in a project – PISO or otherwise – have been identified, analysed as to their potential involvement and involved appropriately.

The May 2003 report discussed the success of using the SIA approach within a commercial PISO project at Sunderland Housing Group. The most obvious benefits to the project were

  1. removal of duplicated effort by different stakeholders
  2. reduced project timescale due to timely consultation with the most appropriate stakeholders.

A striking example of (1) was that an external stakeholder organisation, Northumbria Police, found through PISO that they were carrying out the same legal checks as Sunderland Housing Group’s own legal department. Not only did the use of pisoSIA make a significant contribution to the efficient management of the project itself, but it also demonstrated effectively how the involvement of an external organisation might be integral to a successful system improvement. In addition, the process of carrying out the project collaboratively as guided by SIA strengthened links between the two organisations and led to further collaborations.

A diagram was shown in the earlier article to indicate the steps of the PISO method where SIA had made a contribution. For convenience, a slightly enhanced version of the earlier diagram is shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: PISO framework showing SIA contribution within the

Northumbria Police/Sunderland Housing Group PISO project

Encouraged by this early success, further testing of the approach was carried out by comparing a number of case studies using PISO alone, with those using the pisoSIA enhancement. The results were discussed in Davison et al (2006, 2005) and showed the positive impact of early identification and analysis of stakeholders to a project. In addition pisoSIA was developed within a PhD thesis (Davison 2006) and tested with commercial PISO user groups who incorporated pisoSIA into their projects. They were asked to complete pre- and post- use surveys, which confirmed its effectiveness and showed a large shift towards a positive reaction to it after use.

PisoSIA was then fully integrated within the PISO framework, version 5.1 of PISO being launched in October 2005. Although prior to this PISO had continued to demonstrate its success, it did depend to a large extent upon organisations being sure that they involved the most effective stakeholders. PISO version 5.1 took on board all the pisoSIA research, development and testing that had taken place and thus ensured much more thoroughness and less variability in this respect.

Version 5.1 of the PISO framework is seen in figure 2.

Figure 2: PISO framework v5.1 showing incorporation of SIA

As SIA research had found that the accurate identification of stakeholders prior to analysis was crucial, the new Step 0.2 (identify initial stakeholders to conduct project) was introduced to reflect this. The significance of knowing who to involve in the early stages proved to be a principal factor in timely operation of a system redesign.

Step 1.2 (identify further stakeholders, and analyse involvement) identifies further stakeholders and undertakes stakeholder analysis in accordance with PisoSIA to detect the impact that system stakeholders will have upon the project. This not only includes current stakeholders to a project, but also those whose involvement is needed to carry out system changes, such as IT expertise.

Step 1.3 (refine strategic objectives) takes account of the likely changes that will impinge upon the system stakeholders. Stakeholders are given the opportunity either via individuals or group representatives, depending upon the size of the system, to consider and negotiate the objectives or outcomes of the particular area of the system they are part of.

Although Step 3.2 appears unaltered, it is at this point that potential areas of negotiated change are taken into account – with facilitators considering in detail how particular stakeholders or stakeholder groups will be affected by a system development. They may have to learn new technology, move rooms or departments or they could have worries about continuing employment. By being aware of these aspects the system developer is more likely to avoid resistance to change and ultimate conflict. Mullins (1999) ‘resistance to change’ factors are taken into account here.

This further strengthens a key aspect in the PISO method’s success – the fact that employee stakeholders use it themselves, agreeing and engineering the changes. An important result of utilising the expertise of those familiar with the systems to create the improvement is stakeholder ownership of the solution and thus far less resistance to implementation. And as seen in the Northumbria Police / Sunderland Housing Group example, those other than employees (clients, suppliers) can make their own contribution to the successful outcome.

PISO continues to show itself to be unique in its effective combination of strategic objectives, a structured approach, and stakeholder-driven change. The SIA developments described above have further enhanced its already considerable success ratio, with well over 95% of users reporting positive outcomes and thus making PISO one of the most reliable change management methodologies.


Davison, J., Thompson, J.B., Deeks, D.A. and Lejk, M. (2005). PisoSIA an Approach to Assist Change in Information Systems Development Projects and Aid Process Improvement. The 13th International Conference on Software Quality Management (SQM), Cheltenham, BCS, pp. 239-251.

Davison, J., Thompson, J.B., Deeks, D.A. and Lejk, M. (2006). “PisoSIA a stakeholder approach to assist change in information systems development projects and aid process improvement.” Software Quality Journal 14, pp. 25-36.

Davison, J. (2006). PhD Thesis entitled “Stakeholder Identification and Analysis as an Enhancement to PISO® (Process Improvement for Strategic Objectives)”. University of Sunderland.

Mullins, L.J. (1999). Management and Organisational Behaviour (5th Ed.). London, Financial Times Pitman Publishing.

You can contact Dr Davison at jean.davison@sunderland.ac.uk and Professor Deeks is at david.deeks@sunderland.ac.uk.

[Interesting project or development? Let us know at eo@iap.org.uk!]

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