Join Terri Wagner for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing stakeholder engagement strategies, part of Project Management Foundations: Stakeholders.
- The purpose of designing a stakeholder engagement strategy is to find the required level of stakeholder involvement, and the associated scope of activities each stakeholder will ideally support. This step also helps set expectations about when and how stakeholder groups will be engaged throughout your project's life cycle. Proper planning and communication will allow you to proactively manage activities to sustain your stakeholders' level of engagement, build buy-in and commitment, and address any potential roadblocks.
There are several areas within the project management body of knowledge that provide guidance on engaging with your stakeholders. Let's start by looking at a stakeholder management plan. This stakeholder management plan is a subsidiary component of your project management plan. Some of the elements you might capture here would be: stakeholder engagement levels, relationships and potential overlap between stakeholders, and stakeholder communication requirements, such as type and frequency of information, level of detail required, whether you will push information out to them or provide them access to poll data or information when they need it from a cloud location or shared server site.
So your stakeholder engagement levels would be simple to capture in a matrix that would document the current engagement levels of key stakeholders and your desired level of their engagement. To build such a matrix, you can list stakeholders in the far left column, then list one stakeholder on each subsequent row. Additional columns can be added across the top to indicate the current engagement level of each stakeholder and your desired level for that stakeholder to engage. So additional column headings might include the titles: unaware, resistant, neutral, supportive, and leading.
You would then place a "c" in the column that represents that stakeholder's current engagement in your product, and a "d" in the column that represents where you would like that stakeholder's desired level of engagement. When you finish compiling the matrix, you will have a clear understanding of those stakeholder's you may need to provide more information so you can get these folks more involved and enthusiastic about the project goals. The more stakeholder's you have aware of your project and supporting your efforts, the stronger your coalition of leaders.
This coalition can help bring about the desired change with much more ease and acceptance than a single individual trying to accomplish the same thing. The output of your earlier stakeholder analysis produced a worksheet with each stakeholder's specific needs and interests. During our current activity when we shift a stakeholder from unaware to supportive, we may also need to refresh the earlier worksheet through progressive elaboration. Capturing these details helps the project manager anticipate stakeholder feedback at subsequent checkpoints.
Project managers can also rate stakeholder importance through the power and interest, or salience model, so that input provided by and to the stakeholders can be prioritized. Additionally, project managers should consider establishing a contract or written agreement, signed by the project manager and the stakeholder, so everyone knows what roles they can be expected to play during the project's life cycle, such as reviewing documents, contributing resources, producing deliverables, or approving reports.
You'll need to decide who should have access to documents you create about your stakeholders. Some documents may have sensitive information that should only be shared with your core project team, rather than stored on a shared server or cloud location. Remember, you must communicate with all project stakeholders to discover and manage their expectations before and during project execution. Active and thoughtful stakeholder engagement strengthens your chances for well received projects, supportive participation, and successful outcomes.
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