Stakeholder Engagement Planning – Two Steps for Engaging Stakeholders in Project Implementation
March 29, 2011
Effective stakeholder engagement planning is a necessary part of the project implementation process to identify the level of stakeholders’ influence on the project, state their intentions and develop a strategy for managing the overall engagement process. In this article we will talk about the key steps of stakeholder engagement planning.
There are two key steps for engaging stakeholders in project implementation. Please view the descriptions of the steps below.
Step #1: Identify key stakeholders and their intentions.
The first step in stakeholder engagement planning is to identify people and organizations that may be able to significantly influence the project objectives or success of any of the implementation phases. The project manager needs to take this step and analyze the intentions (including values and expectations) of key project stakeholders.
It is convenient to use a coordinate plane for visualizing the stakeholders’ levels of engagement and influence on the project. The vertical axis of the plane will reflect Influence Level while the horizontal axis will indicate Engagement Level. Please view the picture below.
The project manager can use templates and patterns in project management software to build the coordinate plane and make necessary estimations. Project management software will also help share the results and exchange feedback with the stakeholders.
The first step of stakeholder engagement planning ends up with the project manager’s decision on stakeholders intentions. By having viewed the levels of influence and engagement this person defines the intentions in terms of project implementation. In other words, the project manager makes a statement of stakeholders’ expectations and values regarding the project deliverable, in line with the project scope. This statement is to be sent to stakeholders for review and approval.
Step #2: Develop a strategy for engaging stakeholders.
The next step for engaging stakeholders in project implementation is about developing a strategy and using specific approaches for communicating with, informing and managing key stakeholders. This step is intended for accomplishing the following tasks:
- Build trustful relationships with the stakeholders.
- Convey and turn their intentions into project expectations.
- Receive and analyze feedback/input.
- Provide the stakeholders with information on project implementation progress.
- Build credibility critical to further stakeholder engagement planning.
- Understand their perspective and vision on the project.
- Seek for buy-in.
A stakeholder engagement strategy is a detailed plan of actions for producing specific methods and approaches to collaborating with key stakeholders, identifying their commitment/input to project implementation, and managing their intentions. It is a formal document that defines the level and nature of consultations between key stakeholders and the management team.
The strategy for engaging stakeholders in project implementation has to identify two key components of effective stakeholder management planning, such as follows:
- Commitment/Input. Define what commitment or input each stakeholder will provide to the management team. How this should be done? For example, a stakeholder of your project provides expert knowledge (what commitment) to the project team through establishing online consultations and webinars (how this should be done?) with experts in the appropriate field of project management knowledge.
- Communications. How the stakeholders will communicate with each other and the management team? What nature of contact is required? Usually a communications plan is developed to manage collaboration and rapport between the stakeholders and the team. Such a plan should set up both indirect and direct contact and be simple and with the minimized bureaucratic level. A good communications plan should also outline specific tools for managing communications and planning stakeholder engagement levels (for example, newsletters, online collaboration through a website, public forums, webinars, briefings, real-time remote conferences).
The strategy for stakeholder engagement planning becomes complete and comprehensive when it makes clear the logic and depth of consultation with key stakeholders. Then the two mentioned components (Commitment and Communications) are supported, and a foundation for managing the overall process of stakeholder engagement planning can be created. Of course, the strategy should be developed in line with the project objectives identified during the Project Setup phase. It also should be stated in compliance with the scope statement and adequately budgeted.