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How to Present Stakeholder Requirements Using Data Visualization Tools

By Ila Barshilia – Program Manager at Eaton

In our quest to understand stakeholder needs, the use of data visualization tools proves invaluable. These tools help us present stakeholder requirements clearly and effectively, making complex information easier to grasp. In this blog, we will explore how data visualization enhances our ability to interpret stakeholder needs and make informed decisions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding stakeholder requirements begins with recognizing the common hurdle of communication breakdowns. 
  • Insight into communication issues, organizational barriers, and false assumptions sheds light on the problem, prompting change. 
  • Effective stakeholder management hinges on understanding stakeholder influence. Categorizing stakeholders based on their power and interest levels helps tailor communication and management strategies for each quadrant, ensuring appropriate engagement.
  • Data visualization is essential for turning raw numbers into clear insights that drive smart choices. Visualizing data helps uncover hidden patterns, spot trends, and identify outliers, empowering decision-makers to make informed decisions quickly and effectively.
  • Understanding Gestalt principles such as proximity, similarity, closure, and continuity offers insights into how our brains interpret visual information.
In this article
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    Understanding Stakeholder Requirements

    In both personal and professional settings, achieving customer satisfaction can be challenging due to a gap between expectations and results. The main issue? Communication breakdowns. Customer ideas change as they’re translated by solution providers, much like a game of telephone.

    However, there’s room for improvement. Insights from communication issues, organizational barriers, and false assumptions shed light on the problem, prompting change. Understanding is crucial. For instance, a request for “medium spice” can mean different things to different people, just as the idea of “average” varies from person to person.

    Our task is to bridge the divide between what’s perceived and what’s real. Business analysts and project managers play a crucial role, using insight and empathy to align customer needs with outcomes, and fostering meaningful connections through effective communication.

    Effective Communication with Stakeholders

    Effective communication with stakeholders is paramount to success. But what exactly constitutes a stakeholder, and how do you navigate their varying levels of influence? Let’s delve into the nuances of stakeholder management and communication strategies.

    Understanding Stakeholder Influence

    Stakeholders come in various forms, ranging from internal team members to external entities such as sponsors and customers. To effectively manage these stakeholders, it’s crucial to grasp their level of influence and interest in the project. This is where frameworks like the 2×2 Matrix of power versus interest come into play.

    RI Matrix vs. RCII Matrix

    While the RI Matrix focuses on defining the responsibilities and accountability of team members, the RCII Matrix shifts its focus to external stakeholders who can significantly impact the project’s outcome. By categorizing stakeholders based on their power and interests, project managers can tailor their communication and management strategies accordingly.

    Stakeholder Quadrants

    The 2×2 Matrix divides stakeholders into four quadrants: high power/high interest, high power/low interest, low power/high interest, and low power/low interest. Each quadrant requires a distinct approach:

      • High Power/High Interest: These stakeholders wield significant influence and are highly engaged in the project. Engage them closely, keep them informed, and involve them in decision-making processes.
      • High Power/Low Interest: While these stakeholders may not be deeply invested in the project, their power can’t be ignored. Keep communication concise and focus on providing periodic updates on relevant matters.
      • Low Power/High Interest: Though lacking in formal authority, these stakeholders are genuinely interested in the project’s success. Keep them informed and engaged by soliciting feedback and involving them in relevant discussions.
      • Low Power/Low Interest: These stakeholders have minimal influence and interest in the project. Maintain basic communication to keep them informed, but avoid overwhelming them with unnecessary details.

    Management Strategies for Various Stakeholders

    Imagine a graph where power and interest intersect, forming quadrants that delineate different stakeholder types. On the vertical axis, we measure power – the capability to influence project outcomes. Horizontally, we gauge interest – the level of engagement and concern regarding the project. Let’s delve into each quadrant:

    • High Power, High Interest (Top Right Quadrant):

    These stakeholders are the titans of project influence. They possess both the authority and the enthusiasm to shape project destiny. Engage them actively, making them champions of your cause. Keep them informed, and involved in decision-making processes, and emphasize the project’s benefits. By nurturing their confidence and support, you not only secure their backing but also leverage their influence over other high-power stakeholders.

    • High Power, Low Interest (Top Left Quadrant):

    Dubbed the “unexploded bombs” of project dynamics, these stakeholders wield immense power but exhibit minimal interest. While they may not actively engage with the project, their potential to disrupt looms large. Mitigate this risk by periodically updating them on project developments, seeking their input during critical junctures, and maintaining a cordial relationship. Though their interest may be fleeting, their impact can be significant, warranting careful management.

    • Low Power, High Interest (Bottom Right Quadrant):

    Here reside the enthusiastic observers, deeply interested in project proceedings but lacking substantial influence. While they may not hold the reins of power, their passion can be a valuable asset. Keep them engaged through regular updates, fostering their enthusiasm without burdening them with decision-making responsibilities. Their energy and interest can serve as a catalyst for project momentum, albeit without the weight of high-stakes decision-making.

    • Low Power, Low Interest (Bottom Left Quadrant):

    Representing the periphery of stakeholder engagement, these individuals possess neither significant power nor interest in the project. Keep them informed through passive channels such as newsletters and project updates, but avoid investing excessive energy in their engagement. While they may not actively shape project outcomes, their awareness ensures transparency and inclusivity in project communications.

    Effective stakeholder management begins with meticulous identification. By discerning the power and interest levels of each stakeholder, project leaders can tailor their engagement strategies accordingly. Regular communication, transparency, and strategic involvement form the bedrock of successful stakeholder management.

    Why is Data Visualization Important

    In the world of data-driven decisions, data visualization is key. It’s about turning raw numbers into clear insights that drive smart choices. Let’s delve into why data visualization matters and how it transforms information into action.

    Imagine looking at a bunch of numbers without any visual aid. It’s like trying to find your way in the dark. Without charts or graphs to guide you, those numbers remain just that – numbers, lacking context or meaning.

    Example: The Nomes Squad Dataset

    To illustrate the importance of visualization, let’s consider the Nomes Squad dataset. At first glance, four sets of data seem identical when you look at their numbers alone. But when you visualize them, distinct patterns emerge, revealing their true diversity.

    Seeing Beyond the Numbers

    Visualizing data isn’t just about making it look pretty. It’s about understanding trends, spotting outliers, and making informed decisions. By bringing data to life through visualization, you gain valuable insights that may be hidden in the numbers alone.

    Unlocking Insights, Driving Decisions

    Whether it’s spotting trends in sales data or identifying areas for improvement in a project, data visualization helps you see the big picture. It’s a powerful tool for decision-makers looking to make sense of complex information quickly and effectively.

    How Does the Data Actually Look Like

    In the world of data analysis, data visualization often takes a backseat to number-crunching. Imagine this: you’re staring at a spreadsheet filled with data. Instead of diving straight into calculations, what if you paused to visualize the data first?

    The importance of visualizing data before crunching numbers has been highlighted recently. This simple shift in approach has big implications. Numbers can be tricky, hiding details within the data. But when you turn them into visuals, the truth becomes clear. Visualizations give an immediate insight into the data’s essence, showing similarities, differences, and outliers.

    For example, four datasets may seem similar statistically, but when visualized, their differences become apparent. This sheds light on why correlations might seem identical despite hidden disparities.

    Take the regression line: it might seem consistent numerically, but visually, each dataset tells its own story. This visual narrative offers insights beyond what statistics alone can provide.

    Data visualization isn’t just about pretty graphs—it’s about revealing truths hidden in the data. It empowers analysts to make informed decisions and navigate data complexities with clarity.

    So next time you face a dataset, don’t rush into calculations. Pause, visualize, and let the data speak through its visuals. Embrace visualization as a tool for discovery and understanding in the world of data analysis.

    Gestalt Principles

    Let’s explore the fascinating world of Gestalt principles, a concept deeply rooted in the way our minds perceive visual information. Gestalt, a German word, suggests that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In simpler terms, it means that when individual elements come together, they form a unified and meaningful whole.

    Imagine looking at a picture filled with dots or shapes. Your brain processes this information in remarkable ways, guided by Gestalt principles. These principles, initially proposed through various experiments with visuals, aim to explain how our brains organize and interpret what we see.

    One fundamental Gestalt principle is proximity. When elements are close to each other, our minds perceive them as related or belonging to the same group. Think of it like seeing a cluster of dots close together—they appear as one cohesive unit.

    Another principle, similarity, highlights how our brains group similar elements together. This could be based on color, shape, or other visual attributes. For example, when presented with dots of different colors, our minds naturally group dots of the same color as belonging together.

    Closure is yet another fascinating principle. It demonstrates our brain’s ability to fill in missing information to perceive incomplete shapes or patterns as a whole. Even if parts of a shape are missing, our minds effortlessly complete the image.

    Continuity, the fourth principle, illustrates how our brains prefer smooth and continuous patterns. When presented with a series of elements arranged in a line or curve, we perceive them as part of a continuous flow, even if interrupted by other elements.

    These principles not only explain how our minds interpret visual stimuli but also have practical applications in various fields, including user interface design and branding. For instance, logos often leverage these principles to create memorable and impactful designs that resonate with audiences.

    Design Elements

    In the realm of design, certain elements wield immense influence over how information is perceived and communicated. These fundamental components, intertwined with Gestalt principles, form the backbone of compelling visual narratives. Let’s embark on a journey to explore these pivotal design elements and their role in crafting impactful visuals.


    • Versatile tools used for creating sparklines, trend lines, and graphical elements.
    • Offer condensed visual representations of data trends, enabling quick insights.


    • Ubiquitous in data visualization, with rectangles in bar charts and circles in pie charts.
    • Each shape conveys distinct visual properties, influencing data interpretation.


    • Powerful storytelling tools that evoke emotions and perceptions.
    • Contrasting colors highlight important information, enhancing visual clarity.
    • Strategic use of hues, saturation, and contrast enhances engagement.


    • Crucial for conveying information effectively through font choices, styles, and spacing.
    • Impact readability and visual hierarchy, contributing to overall aesthetic appeal.

    Negative Space:

    • Often overlooked but vital for defining spatial relationships between elements.
    • Enhances visual clarity and composition, ensuring balanced designs.


    • Texture adds depth and visual interest to designs, engaging viewers on multiple sensory levels.
    • Utilized to evoke specific emotions or convey tactile sensations, enhancing the overall user experience.

    Question for Reflection:

    Despite their widespread use, pie charts and donut charts are often criticized in data visualization. What might be the reasoning behind this critique, and how can alternative visualization methods better serve data communication needs?

    Graphical Integrity

    Exploring the world of data visualization unveils the principle of honesty – graphical integrity. If you dissect visuals from The New York Times, where seemingly innocent graphics concealed distortions, you can learn four key principles:

    • Context is Crucial: Without historical context, visuals lack meaning. Comparing data to relevant benchmarks uncovers the complete story.
    • Simplicity Wins: Complex visuals obscure data. Simple tools like bar and line charts effectively convey information without embellishment.
    • Design vs. Data: Fancy visuals may impress, but clarity trumps complexity. Data presentation should prioritize accuracy over aesthetics.
    • Numbers Never Lie: While visuals may deceive, raw data remains steadfast. Graphical integrity hinges on presenting unvarnished truths.

    Data visualization tools offer us a clear and concise way to communicate stakeholder requirements. By presenting information visually, we can better understand stakeholder needs and ensure project success. As we continue on our journey, let us embrace the power of data visualization to bridge the gap between stakeholders and project outcomes.

    About the Author:

    Ila Barshilia – Program Manager at Eaton

    Frequently Asked Questions

    To present data to stakeholders effectively, start by understanding their needs and expertise. Choose appropriate visualizations and simplify complex information while providing context. Use clear labels and titles, and craft a compelling narrative around the data. Encourage interaction and transparency, and follow up to address any questions or concerns promptly.

    Data visualization helps organizations represent complex data visually, aiding in comprehension. To determine the best way to present data:


    • Define objectives: Clarify the purpose and insights needed.
    • Know your audience: Understand their background and preferences.
    • Choose appropriate visualizations: Select formats that effectively convey key insights.
    • Simplify complexity: Focus on relevant information and avoid unnecessary detail.
    • Provide context: Frame data within organizational goals or industry trends.
    • Test and iterate: Experiment with different formats and gather feedback for improvement.

    While both reporting and visualization tools are essential for data analysis, reporting tools prioritize structured, textual reports, while visualization tools emphasize dynamic visual representations for deeper analysis and communication.

    Gestalt, a German word, suggests that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In simpler terms, it means that when individual elements come together, they form a unified and meaningful whole.

    • Bar Charts: Represent data using rectangular bars of varying lengths to compare categories or show trends over time.
    • Line Graphs: Display data points connected by lines to illustrate trends or changes over time, ideal for showing continuous data.
    • Pie Charts: Divide a circle into segments to represent the proportions of a whole, useful for displaying parts of a whole or comparing percentages.
    • Scatter Plots: Plot data points on a two-dimensional graph to show the relationship between two variables, helping identify correlations or patterns.
    • Heat Maps: Use colors to represent data values within a matrix, making it easy to visualize patterns or identify outliers in large datasets.
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