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15 November 2021 5 min read

Why projects fail at the stakeholder engagement stage (and what to do about it)

Why do projects fail? The reason may not be at the last hurdle, but often, at the first: stakeholder engagement.

Despite the importance of projects to our daily personal and working lives, projects all around us fail.

It’s a fact of life, but one that not many people like to talk about. After all, who wants a ‘failure’ on their CV?

The Standish Group released some amazing statistics just about the depth of project failure.

Consider that:

  • 31.1% of projects will be cancelled before they ever get completed

  • 52.7% of projects will cost 189% of their original estimates.

  • In 1995 American companies and government agencies spent $81 billion (£63.6 billion) for cancelled software projects and paid an additional $59 billion (£46.4 billion) for software projects that will be completed, but will exceed their original time estimates.

This data may seem disheartening, but it can be very helpful to keep in mind when you begin a new project and start to consider stakeholder engagement methods.

The successful completion of a project usually depends on how stakeholders view it. Their requirements, expectations, perceptions, personal agendas and concerns will influence the project, shape what success looks like, and impact the outcomes that can be achieved.

Successful stakeholder engagement is, therefore, a vital requirement for professional project management.

If you can keep stakeholders on board, tracking their responses and engaging them throughout the process, your project is far more likely to succeed.

How can you move your project away from the ‘danger zone’?

The best way is the right technology.

Here’s why:


It helps manage engagements in the most logical fashion

As you will know, corporations are now expected to respond to a multitude of specific information requests from their stakeholders and need to meet increasingly stringent transparency and reliability requirements.

Fit for purpose software is one of the very best ways to keep a project on track from start to finish. Whilst project management software is indispensable and a CRM can help log transactional information as either sellers or buyers, a stakeholder engagement software tool helps with the ‘gaps’ in between these two offerings. For example, when a stakeholder is impacted by a project in a variety of roles they have or by multiple projects in multiple phases.

Stakeholder-specific software allows you to easily and accurately link stakeholder activities to multiple projects simultaneously, helping you draw up a picture of all the previous engagements they have had about the project across surveys, emails and calls.

This in-depth knowledge is invaluable in helping you to build the foundations of a positive relationship.


It helps you meet time constraints

Stakeholders have the ability to delay projects via regulatory, legal or public pressure. This can be a real issue when things aren’t done ‘to the book’.

When you manage a project, you need to ensure that you follow up on stakeholder concerns and commitments in a timely manner.

Various projects with various team members and stakeholders can lead to chaos (and failure) - even more so when using spreadsheets, CRM and word documents across your business.

To ensure you follow up, stick to just one system which can help remove any ambiguity in this area.


You can easily facilitate consistent stakeholder communication

Projects can fail because the managers, despite best intentions, fail to maintain consistency throughout the lifecycle of a project.

Staff changes, system changes, diverse and complex business changes can all get in the way of communication. This means that if you aren’t very careful, stakeholders are left in the dark.

If you are unable to properly manage their concerns and adequately inform them of how projects will impact them, your project may launch but may never truly be adopted or understood.

At the same time, if you are unable to show transparency to individual stakeholders and regulators with a suitable history of your engagements and how you attempted to resolve concerns raised this could be very troubling.

Knowing who needs to be engaged, when and how will not only satisfy stakeholders but will also give you peace of mind. Facilitate your stakeholder communication on a recurring basis - it is NOT a one-off task to be done at the beginning and end of a project.

Again, picking the right stakeholder engagement software to manage these communications is a smart move that will see you reaping the benefits.

Learn how our system can easily replace a multitude of time-consuming different software packages, with an ‘all in one' method to manage stakeholder engagement.