Introducing Stakeholder Management
New to stakeholder management and not sure where to start? Or perhaps stakeholder management has been part of your role or business for some time now, but you’d like to feel more confident with it?
Let’s go through some stakeholder management basics. We’ll define stakeholder management, unpack why it’s worth doing, and share a simple stakeholder management process that works for nearly any team or project.
What is Stakeholder Management?
Stakeholders are the people or groups that are involved in or affected by an organization, project or action.
This might include members of the public, government or regulatory bodies, businesses, suppliers, employees, shareholders, government bodies, and even customers.
Stakeholder management means identifying your stakeholders, seeking to understand them, strategically interacting with them, and tracking those interactions.
Who Does Stakeholder Management?
Stakeholder management is an important activity for most organizations and projects. It’s a key part of many job descriptions, including leadership, communication and project management roles.
But the bigger the project and the higher the stakes, the more critical this function becomes. You’ll usually find dedicated stakeholder management teams in energy, resources and mining, not for profit organizations, health, infrastructure, and government organizations.
Why Do Stakeholder Management?
Stakeholder management can help you understand how people are impacted by a project, what influence they have, and what their sentiments and key concerns or needs are towards it. This can help you identify potential risks and opportunities ahead of time so that you can manage them and reduce negative impacts.
But the stakeholder management process is about more than getting your project to the finish line.
Managing your stakeholders can help you:
- Build mutual understanding
- Strengthen relationships
- Get more input and insights
- Reduce risks, remove roadblocks and reduce delays
- Achieve more sustainable outcomes
- Improve your reputation
- Gain a social license to operate
- Fulfil legal obligations
Gaining extra perspectives can help reveal new information, influence the project, and create better outcomes for more people.
In turn, this may help some stakeholders feel more positively towards your organization — and more open to your project and the changes it may bring.
Stakeholder Management Vs Engagement, Consultation & Other Terms
The field of stakeholder management is quite broad. You may also come across some other terms that are used to describe different aspects of or approaches to stakeholder management, including:
- Stakeholder engagement – This focuses on building relationships with stakeholders (which include individuals and organizations)
- Community engagement – This focuses on building stronger relationships with communities (defined by location, affiliation, interest or something else)
- Public participation – The goal is to get the public actively involved in making decisions or finding solutions
- Public consultation – The goal is to get input from the public on specific issues, at any stage of the project
- Citizen engagement – The focus here is on getting the public engaged in decisions and activities of government
Many of these terms are used interchangeably and may have slightly different meanings in different parts of the world. However, they all fall within stakeholder management.
5 Steps to Managing Stakeholders
So, how do you actually do stakeholder management?
The steps you’ll need to follow will depend on the scale and complexity of what you’re doing. But for most projects, you’ll need to work through the following stakeholder management process.
1. Stakeholder Identification
Start by brainstorming who your stakeholders are. Prepare a list that includes any groups or individuals who might be impacted by or have an impact on the project; or who you have a statutory requirement to consult.
2. Stakeholder Analysis
You might analyze your stakeholders based on:
- Sentiment – How might each stakeholder or group might feel about the project (positive, negative or neutral)?
- Influence – How much of an influence could each stakeholder or group have on the project?
- Impact – How much of an impact could the project have on each stakeholder or group?
- Interest – What is their level of interest in this project or work?
- Concerns – What are their top needs and priorities?
- Expectations – How involved would they expect to be? And what kind of consultation or engagement process might they expect from you?
Mapping this information to each stakeholder in your list will help you identify themes and priority areas to address in your stakeholder management plan.
Want to learn more about stakeholder mapping? – check out this webinar on Stakeholder Mapping Tips
3. Stakeholder Management Plan
Following your stakeholder analysis, you can determine what approach you’ll need to take with each stakeholder or group. This may include:
- How and when you plan to engage with them
- What you need their input on
- What messages you need to communicate with them
You’ll also need to outline any resources you need, what outcomes you’d like to see, and how you’ll evaluate your plan’s success.
Use your written plan to guide your team and ensure that any decision-makers understand the stakeholder management process and how it can benefit the project.
4. Feedback, Participation & Communication
Now it’s time to put your plan into action, communicating with your stakeholders and giving them opportunities to provide feedback and participate.
Good administrative practices are critical here. Keep a history of each stakeholder interaction (online and in-person) in one place so that you and your team can build on conversations, strengthen relationships, and engage with individuals in a more meaningful way.
5. Analyze & Reflect
As you receive input from stakeholders, you’ll need to collate the data and present recommendations, ensuring that they form a key part of the decision making process. You’ll also need to keep stakeholders informed about the project and how their feedback is being used to influence decisions.
Throughout the project, reflect on whether your plan is working and whether you’re achieving the outcomes you had in mind.
Want to learn more about Darzin’s stakeholder management reports? Book a demo here
Stakeholder Management Examples
Looking for some stakeholder management inspiration? The following examples show how you can apply stakeholder management strategies across different projects, plus different ways to analyze, engage with and track your stakeholders.
Rail Projects Victoria – Metro Tunnel
|About the project||The Metro Tunnel in Melbourne is a $10.9 billion project that will kickstart the transformation of Melbourne’s rail network into an international-style metro system. When it opens (ETA 2025), it will create a new end-to-end line from Cranbourne/Pakenham in the south east to Sunbury in the west, impacting a large number of workers, residents and students.|
|Stakeholder management strategies||Community Reference Groups (CRGs) were one of the main stakeholder management strategies implemented by Rail Projects Victoria (RPV). CRGs were established in a number of precincts along the Metro Tunnel route.
These CRGs provided forums for local community and stakeholder engagement during the construction of the Metro Tunnel by:
RPS Ireland Stakeholder Management
|About the company||Founded in 1970, RPS is a leading global professional services firm that works across six sectors: property, energy, transport, water, resources, defence and government services. Their focus is on defining, designing and managing projects that create shared value by solving problems that matter to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.|
|Stakeholder management strategies||As a company RPS implements a number of strategies to assist their clients to manage and engage their various stakeholders, including:
INPEX Ichthys Development
|About the project||Following a number of successful joint ventures in the Australian energy sector, global energy company, INPEX, took on the role of project operator at Ichthys, and commenced production in mid-2018.
Located around 220 km offshore Western Australia and 820 km southwest of Darwin, Ichthys incorporates subsea, offshore, pipeline, and onshore development and production. It’s expected to reach peaks of 8.9 million tonnes of LNG per year, 1.65 million tonnes of LPG per year and 100,000+ barrels of condensate per day.
|Stakeholder management strategies||INPEX’s stakeholder management methods are primarily focused on collaboration and shared two-way engagement with:
Each of their enquiries from community members are documented using stakeholder management software, with 400+ enquiries received in 2021. They work with stakeholders to address feedback promptly and consistently.
Learn More About Stakeholder Management
Enjoyed this introduction to stakeholder management but want to dive deeper? These resources will build on what you’ve learned with additional strategies, insights and tips:
- The Ultimate Guide to Stakeholder Management [Article]
- Why Stakeholder Engagement Matters [eBook]
- Stakeholder Management Plan in Five Steps [Article]
- How to Manage Stakeholder Expectations [Article]
Use Darzin for Effective Stakeholder Management
Ready to apply some of the strategies covered here?
Darzin’s stakeholder management tools can help you cover more ground at every phase of the project — and ensure better visibility for your whole team.
- Interaction tracking – Complete history of interactions with stakeholders, all in the one place. See who has been speaking to the stakeholder, and what was discussed.
- Stakeholder Mapping – Segment your stakeholders based on their level of influence, interest and impact; how critical they are to your project as well as their current position or sentiment. Use custom fields or tags to track the info that matters to your work.
- Analysis – Use built-in surveys and qualitative analysis to better understand issues, needs and concerns of stakeholders. Analyse the effectiveness of your stakeholder engagement activities.
- Activity scheduling– Plan meetings and events via a shared calendar.
- Tasks & Complaints – Stay on top of follow-up tasks with integrated communication, response time tracking and automatic notifications in visual kanban style task boards