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Over recent months it has been interesting to hear about the many obstacles Stakeholder Engagement professionals require to overcome, irrespective of their engagement reason, project size or industry. Although we often use the term ‘stakeholder management’ which would indicate to control and manage, the focus and overall aim is to engage, consult and collaborate with your stakeholders (not manage). This blog will hopefully outline how this process can be made easier, allowing you to save time and resources.
Managing your stakeholder database effectively is paramount to your success, it becomes the base of your engagement process. Spend time to create detailed stakeholder profiles, capturing information of importance and relevance to your project. The volume of stakeholders is of less importance than capturing and engaging with the right stakeholders, ensure you have the right mix of stakeholders with the correct interests, influences and residence to your project.
Not all your stakeholders will require the same level of communication, therefore group your stakeholders accordingly. Take into consideration their influence and interest in your project, creating targeted distribution lists. Set the appropriate level of engagement and what forms of communication are best suited to each group. Below is an example of how you may group your stakeholders;
1. Low-Interest/Low-Influence stakeholders require minimal effort and need only to know where to go to stay current on the project.
2. High-Interest/Low-Influence stakeholders need a little more consideration because the high-interest motivation in them demands participation at some level in the project.
3. High-Influence/Low-Interest stakeholders are a different breed of animal. If you rub them the wrong way, they can hurt your project. However, if you take the “keep them satisfied” approach, their low-interest level will drive their actions. Being satisfied means, they will just let things go along as you want them to.
4. High-Influence/High-Interest stakeholders are where you must focus the bulk of your effort. They have ideas, and they can hurt your project if you ignore them. The engagement level with them must be personal and dynamic.
Creating targeted distribution lists will provide you with the capability to reach each group independently and adapt your engagement level accordingly.
Consider a wide range of communication methods from newsletter updates, surveys, events and letters. Where possible try to reduce the need to copy and paste valuable data to and from different software applications as this will help to minimise room for human-error, save time and resources and keep your data more secure in the process.
Whatever the form of communication, providing your stakeholders with a way to get back in-touch is paramount. Look at ways you can record, track and log stakeholder feedback and issues. Make it easier for your team to access your whole engagement process, so they can view every element including your stakeholder database, communications, feedback and any issues raised.
Consider stakeholder management tools that make your engagement process easier. Try to ensure you can manage every aspect of your engagement process, therefore reducing the need to use multiple applications and saving you invaluable time and resources in the process.
Using one system for all your engagement process will provide you with full visibility of every aspect of your engagement process to all of your team and in conclusion, will in-turn make the recording, communicating and analysing easier throughout your whole engagement process.