How Do I Manage Stakeholder Engagement?
Successful stakeholder engagements require you to stay on top of key processes, while managing the various stakeholder individuals and groups you’re engaging with.
But without the right tools and techniques, consulting with stakeholders can quickly become overwhelming. And if the engagement is ineffective, it could have bigger consequences, like wasted resources, project delays, higher risks, and dissatisfied stakeholders.
So, let’s explore six ways you can stay in control of your consultation to do list and successfully manage your stakeholder engagement requirements from start to finish.
1. Define Your Stakeholder Engagement Objectives
Get off to the right start with your stakeholder engagement by starting with your objectives. Know why stakeholder engagement matters and what you can achieve by engaging with your stakeholders in a more strategic way. Some good objectives include:
- Gain new perspectives and knowledge to inform decisions
- Better understand the people impacted by the project and those that have an influence on it
- Better meet the expectations of stakeholders
- Achieve more sustainable outcomes
- Gain support for your organization or project
- Proactively minimize delays and manage risks
- Increase stakeholder trust and improve sentiments
Once you know the objectives of your stakeholder engagement, you can move onto the next steps with greater purpose and meaning.
2. Identify and Analyze Your Stakeholders
Create or refine your stakeholder list to include all the people and groups that may be impacted by, interested in, or have an impact on your project. To make it easier to manage your stakeholder engagement, add your contacts to stakeholder software like Darzin. Allow yourself adequate time to discover stakeholders and record their details, and be prepared to adjust your stakeholder list as you learn more over time.
Once you have your list, you can begin to anaylze your stakeholders. This involves assigning characteristics to each person on your stakeholder list, like demographics, interests, impact, influence, expectations, concerns, sentiments, and more.
You can use this information to map your stakeholders using a variety of models.
Our preferred stakeholder mapping criteria uses the 3 Is (impact, interest, and influence) to assign a value for each stakeholder contact. This can help you efficiently manage your stakeholder engagement by prioritizing your most critical stakeholders first, or even identifying whether certain stakeholders are more engaged than others.
Once again, stakeholder software like Darzin can make this process a lot easier. Darzin allows you to segment your stakeholders based on their level of impact, interest, and influence, along with other characteristics like their current position or sentiment. By using custom fields and tags, you can easily track any stakeholder characteristics that matter to your engagement.
3. Make a Plan
Now that you know who your stakeholders are, you can plan your stakeholder engagement. Create a stakeholder engagement plan that defines your approach in advance or update your existing plan to make sure it still fits your requirements. A basic plan should cover:
- Objectives – What you aim to achieve
- Stakeholders – List of who you plan to engage
- Activities – Previous and future engagement activities
- Program – The strategies, engagement methods, and formats you’ll use
- Resources – Tools, software, physical space, staff, and consultants that will help you implement the program and manage your stakeholder engagement
- Timeframe – When you plan to implement the program and activities
- Roles – Team members and their responsibilities
- Monitoring – How you’ll track your stakeholder engagement and when you’ll report on your activities and outcomes
To make this step easier, we’ve put together a stakeholder engagement plan template you can easily fill out online. Build your stakeholder engagement plan here.
4. Manage and Engage Your Stakeholders
Once you’ve got an approved stakeholder engagement plan, it’s time to put it into action. Managing the engagement may involve a range of activities, including:
- Updating stakeholders via email, SMS, or post (at appropriate milestones or on a regular basis)
- Tailoring the engagement approach (and topics) to stakeholder interests
- Opening up communication channels (dedicated phone line, form, email address, etc.) so that stakeholders can ask questions, share comments, and make suggestions
- Delivering project reports
- Sharing formal or informal presentations
- Engaging in conversation via email, phone, social media, and other platforms
- Setting up face-to-face meetings or events
- Requesting feedback and comments
- Managing conflicts and grievances
- Negotiating with stakeholders
- Meeting any legislated requirements for the engagement (if relevant)
- Keeping records of all interactions, communication, and feedback
The way you engage with your stakeholders will depend on your objectives and how to best achieve them — based on your stakeholder analysis. But whether you need to apply all of the engagement methods above, or just a few, it can be a monumental task to implement and manage your stakeholder engagement. That’s why it’s critical to ensure you have the correct resources as outlined in your plan, including sufficient staff and a powerful stakeholder tool like Darzin.
5. Monitor and Adapt
Throughout the engagement, it’s important to continually monitor the activities and the response you’re getting. This will ensure you stay on track with your plan (and objectives) and allow you to adjust anything that’s not working. It’s also important to ensure that any stakeholder insights and feedback is shared with the project team to help inform any decisions.
Some data you might gather through monitoring includes:
- Survey responses
- Sentiment (based on text analysis)
- Comments and feedback
- Interactions with communications (opens, clicks, shares, views)
- Event attendees
- Time on the phone
In order to manage the volume of data that often comes with monitoring your stakeholders (and efficiently interpret it in a meaningful way), make sure you have the right tools in place.
For example, Darzin can keep a record of any survey responses, emails, form fills, SMS messages, phone calls, meetings, events, and more — each linked to the relevant contact record. This makes it much easier to analyze the data because you can filter by stakeholder impact, interest, influence, and other characteristics. Plus, Darzin’s built-in surveys with qualitative analysis make it easy to better understand stakeholder issues, needs, and concerns.
From here, you might discover that you’re getting plenty of engagement from one type of stakeholder, but another type isn’t responding to the topics you’ve presented so far. You could adapt your plan to target the non-responsive stakeholder group with different angles or a different format (e.g. mailouts instead of emails).
6. Report and Evaluate
You should also be prepared to report on your stakeholder activities and outcomes. Reports are typically shared with the relevant external stakeholders so that they can see how their input has impacted the project and decisions.
Finally, to help you manage your stakeholder engagement more effectively in future, it’s a good idea to evaluate your consultation. Look at the performance indicators and consider whether your plan was realistic — and whether you achieved what you originally set out to do. You’ll always learn something new from each engagement, so it’s worth taking the time to reflect on how everything went.
We’ve mentioned Darzin a few times here because there is nothing like having the right tools in place to make managing your stakeholder engagement more efficient and effective.
No matter the number of stakeholders, communication channels, or issues at play, Darzin has you covered. Learn more about how our software can support your engagement or reach out to book a demo with the team.