A stakeholder is an individual who either has an interest or is somehow impacted by a project and its result within an organization. Stakeholder management is the process in which those requirements and expectations are managed.
The process of managing stakeholders means both identifying and analyzing those stakeholders, as well as systematically planning to both engage and communicate with them. There are four phases to the process that bear understanding before either getting involved in management or becoming a stakeholder.
When planning a project, the first step is to identify any stakeholders. List everyone and anyone who may be potentially impacted by the project. There is no need to assign them to a specific category at this point, just know who they are or what company they represent.
When considering a stakeholder, consider those who will be impacted by the project, who have shown an interest in the project, who have power over that project, who wants the project to succeed, and who wants the project to fail.
When you have a full list of stakeholders, you can then break them down into categories. There are both external and internal stakeholders; use a stakeholder map to properly identify them.
When you have your list of stakeholders at the ready, you need to evaluate them in terms of power and interest that they have related to your project. Part of effective stakeholder management is knowing what each stakeholder represents and what their goals are.
There are a few different techniques used for analysis of stakeholders. There is the power interest grid, the SWOT analysis, and the Onion Diagram. Each of these offers their own unique set of benefits when analyzing stakeholders.
You can prioritize them based on their importance to the process, their hierarchy, and a number of different factors. It gives you a better idea of where they sit in the pecking order, who is most important, and so on.
When you know who is involved and how often you have to both engage and communicate with those stakeholders, it becomes time to plan ahead. The plan should be to deliver the proper message to the right stakeholder. All of this should be done in a timely manner.
But before you create a communication plan for the stakeholders, it is important that you keep a stakeholder profile. The profile – and there should be one for each category of stakeholder that you have – should list out that individual or entity’s interests, needs, goals, level of power and interest, responsibilities, communication channels, and any other relevant information.
From there, a communication plan can be developed for each specific profile. The plan should cover the engagement approach, the type of information that goes into the message, the frequency of engagement, and the means of communication (video call, email, newsletter, and so on).
This is the final step in the process and where you execute that communication plan. During the engagement process, you need to identify what, if any issues, that they have with the development of your project. There are software specialising in stakeholder engagement management like Borealis which a business can use.
In this step, you can take any actions necessary to address the stakeholder and work to ensure their support. It is important to find a suitable engagement approach based on the type of stakeholder. For instance, you may want to take slightly more costly approaches for high power and high interest players. That includes things such as face-to-face meetings or extensive consultations.
For those who are lower on the chain, emails and newsletters should suffice. It is important to measure the effectiveness of these strategies and adjust them as needed.