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choosing stakeholder management tools
7 min read

Choosing Between Stakeholder Management Tools

A properly resourced stakeholder management plan that works towards an overall strategic direction is crucial for meeting project goals.

And without an effective stakeholder management tool, putting this plan into action can become a difficult task, lead to inadequate engagement and risk the success of the project. 

If there's one thing we learned from the COVID-19 Test and Trace blunder back in 2020, is that Excel spreadsheets are not proper tools for stakeholder data.

So what should you use if you need to manage stakeholder information and want to support stakeholder communication and better engagement?

The answer lies within a proper stakeholder management tool. Keep reading to learn what to consider when choosing one.


Understand Your Engagement Needs

Firstly, you need to understand who you’re engaging with and how much engagement your stakeholders will require.

It’s essential to recognise the level of influence and interest/involvement that each identified stakeholder will have with your business, program or project.

While undertaking your stakeholder analysis and categorisation, also think about the communication channels you will require to reach them, as you will want to address this need with your new stakeholder management tool.

Email, newsletters, events, and surveys are all communication channels widely used for both digital and face-to-face engagement you must evaluate if you are going to need.

Articulate Your Goals

It’s important that goals are well articulated inside your organisation as this establishes a shared understanding across the project.

Businesses often only measure success once the work is completed. However, punctuating your stakeholder engagement plan with milestones throughout the project will ensure it’s more effective overall.

Consider choosing a stakeholder management tool that can keep track of all the project achievements and offer regular reporting. This not only ensures you’ll be following through with your strategy but also means that any failings can be identified and measures can be taken more promptly.

Now that you have a clear picture of your engagement and management needs, it's time to weigh up your options.

Weighting Up Your Options

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a stakeholder management tool:

1. Cost vs. Functionality

Consider the following questions:

  • What is the budget for your tool?
  • What staff are available to manage the information needed to make the tool work?
  • How big is the project team?
  • How many tasks are in the primary project work breakdown structure (WBS)?
  • And how many levels of indenture are there?

The power and degree of control needed for your choice of a tool hinge on the answers to these questions.

Thoroughly assess whether the software specifications are going to meet the needs of your project. There are free online tools, however, whilst these claim to help you manage engagement, they’re often inadequate and a just means of forcing you into a high-cost subscription service.

Tools such as the industry-standard Microsoft Project implemented in a SharePoint cloud environment will cost thousands to acquire enterprise licenses. Not to mention the thousands more in overhead costs to staff the team to make it run smoothly and keep it running.

By planning first and identifying exactly what you require, you can find a software package that meets the needs of your engagement approach and avoid the inefficient and time-consuming process of navigating multiple free tools.

2. Capability vs. Ease of Use

The more capable the tool is, the higher the learning curve is going to be. Remember that your entire project team will have to be able to use the tool at some level.

How much time do you have to give each member of your project team to learn the software?

You could also hire an expert for a price - but then you’re defeating the cost versus functionality paradigm.

Consider customisation options. Tools that allow users to choose which features and functionalities they want to use help take advantage of the product's full capabilities while providing a more streamlined experience. And it can help with internal stakeholder buy-in.

3. Compatibility with Other Systems

Your company has already invested in an integrated technology stack of communication, accounting, and reporting software for enterprise use.

Therefore, it's essential to ensure that any new tool you adopt can interface seamlessly with your existing apps.

Does the new tool require a lot of custom integration work to interface with your existing apps, or is it designed to work out of the box with the most popular business software tools?

And if custom integration is necessary, does the new tool provide what's needed (such as an API) and is that included in your pricing or will it be an extra cost?


4. Documentation, Support, and Ongoing Technical Support

All software requires some degree of learning before you can become proficient in its use. How much support does the vendor provide for the software package?

Consider the quality of the documentation you’ll receive - user guides, video tutorials, a helpdesk - and the type of support you'll be given during the onboarding process.

Ask about the setup and ongoing support you can expect. Can you contact the support team by phone or by email only?

Check their working hours and consider the time zones if you are looking to purchase software from a different country.

Also, remember to check how long-term technical assistance and bug-fix policies work and if upgrade features are included in your plan. 

5. Security and Encryption

Do you need to protect personally identifiable information (PII), competition-sensitive documents, and intellectual property? If the answer is yes, can the tool provide those services?

Always perform your due diligence on any software package you’re considering buying.

Read up on the experiences of other users and consult independent industry rating guides for tool performance. You won’t be sorry you did your homework.

Secure File Sharing

You must be aware of all laws and regulations concerning the protection of personally identifiable information (PII), copyright infringement, and protection of intellectual property.

Failure to protect PII and violation of copyright infringement laws carry penalties (financial and corporate reputation). In addition, failing to protect intellectual property (IP) can hurt the profitability of your company and result in litigation.

The important consideration on your part concerns access to the data repositories and what communication tools and methods you use to transmit sensitive data.

First, let’s identify the laws governing such activity in the United Kingdom:

1. The UK legislation implementing the EU Data Protection Directive was the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), s.1(1) of which provides, in words that differ from the Directive’s definition:
a. "personal data" means data that relate to a living individual who can be identified–
i. (a) from those data, or
ii. (b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller,
b. And includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of the individual.
2. The UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Digital Economy Act 2010 apply to and may be breached by file-sharing activity.
a. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 aims to protect the intellectual property rights of the creator or copyright holder. File sharing violates this act when the copyright owner has not permitted its material to be shared.
b. The Digital Economy Act changed the penalties related to copyright infringement. The legislation is concerned more directly with copyright on the Internet than previous legislation that was more concerned with commercial abuse of copyright.

The actions you should take:

1. Implement a tiered hierarchy
Identify the level of access each project team member has to the document repository and archives. Sensitive documents must be kept separate from routine, unclassified documents and access control imposed.

2. Double check
Two-factor authentication of users should be employed as a means to prevent hacking into the project database.

3. Always encrypt
The transfer of sensitive files and any documents that could have elements of PII in the document must be encrypted before transmission using tools such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) tools.

Free Procurement Template Document

When looking for a stakeholder management tool, there are so many functionalities to be considered.

The Stakeholder Engagement System Procurement Template is a practical document you can use as a checklist, where you will find all the relevant features you should look for in a proper stakeholder engagement system. Download if for free!


The Leading Stakeholder Management Tool

Tractivity is a stakeholder engagement tool built with stakeholders at its core. It's the leading solution in the UK, offering a safe and secure way to keep stakeholders' information in one place, easily accessed across teams. 

We're already helping many organisations like SSEN, EDF Energy, Midland Metro Alliance and the NHS deliver better results with our complete solution.

Contact us for a free demo and learn how we can help you support your stakeholder communication and greatly improve your outcomes.

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