A Stakeholder Engagement Plan enables communication with stakeholders to get support for your project. The plan outlines the location and form of communication, contact person, and communication frequency. Companies create the plan before the project starts and update it over time as stakeholders’ needs change. All projects have stakeholders, but their involvement depends on the type of industry and project. For instance, a software development project may have a few stakeholders, while a huge construction project may have a large number of stakeholders.
- Parts of a Stakeholder Engagement Plan
- Principles of Stakeholder Engagement
- Stakeholder Engagement Assessment Matrix
- Benefits of a Stakeholders Engagement Assessment Matrix?
- Why use Engagement Assessment Matrix?
- Developing a Stakeholder Engagement Plan
- Stakeholder Engagement Plan Templates
- Stakeholder Engagement FAQs
- How to Improve Stakeholder Engagement
It may not be necessary for project managers to write a stakeholder engagement template for small projects. However, stakeholder engagement is critical to project success for huge projects with many stakeholders. The many stakeholders will have varying ideas and needs. What’s more, each will have unique powers and interests in the projects, necessitating specialized consultation. Regardless of the size of the project, it is important to maintain a good relationship with the stakeholders for proper management of the project.
Stakeholder engagement planning builds a strong foundation to making stakeholders buy in to your project. You need to tailor the plan to your project’s size and other project management plans. Once you have developed stakeholder engagement plans, you present them to the project management team and parent company for approval. Then project managers will implement the plans and keep updating the plan according to each stakeholder’s status.
The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) recommends developing Stakeholder Engagement Plans. According to the sixth edition of PMBOK, stakeholder engagement planning is a crucial element that develops strategies to ensure stakeholders take part in making project decisions and execution processes. A Stakeholder Engagement Plan can be formal, informal, highly detailed, or with fewer details depending on the stakeholder’s expectations and the project’s needs.
Parts of a Stakeholder Engagement Plan
A good engagement plan should have the following components:
- Stakeholder list. Your stakeholder engagement plan should list all the stakeholders. PMBOK calls the list Stakeholder Register. You need to be thorough when creating the list since underestimating a minor stakeholder failing to communicate with them may cause the downfall of the project.
- Project phase. The section identifies the stakeholders for each project phase.
- Contact name. You need to ensure you contact the right people. Some stakeholders, particularly large companies or the government, may have many lawyers, making it hard to communicate with them. Consequently, it may lead to project delays.
- Influence area. The section defines the stakeholder’s stake. It highlights how the stakeholders’ interests overlap with the project, their goals, why they are interested in the project. Stakeholder engagement can only be meaningful if both of you have a mutual understanding.
- Power. All the stakeholders have the power to stop or change the project. Stakeholders’ power can be removed, but you will pay for it. You may incur monetary costs, or the stakeholder may be unhappy and influence other stakeholders to withdraw from the project.
- Engagement approach. The plan must also include the strategies for engaging each stakeholder. It should highlight the frequency and forms of communication, for example, daily, weekly or monthly emails, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. Additionally, it should also highlight the content of the communication, like design information and project progress.
Principles of Stakeholder Engagement
Stakeholder engagement and management are essential for the delivery of successful projects. The project management team relies on people’s feedback on the outputs and benefits they offer. Keep in mind that people can only respond if they have been involved in the project. Below are some stakeholder engagement principles you should follow to achieve your goals.
- Identify all stakeholders through different methods, including assessment matrix, influence diagram, salience model, or stakeholder cube. Stakeholders are individuals with a positive or negative interest in what you are trying to accomplish. Depending on your project’s size, you may have a few or many stakeholders.
- Find stakeholders who are powerful enough to drive or stop your goal. Doing this will help you narrow down to stakeholders that significantly contribute to your project. It is also important to identify individuals or groups with the greatest interest in your outcome, even if they lack power. These stakeholders may work harder to ensure the successful completion of the task.
- You should push for your goals in the mind of positive stakeholders and minimize telling negative stakeholders to achieve maximum engagement.
- Active engagement. It is important to proactively engage your stakeholders from the initial stages of the evaluation to the end. You need to consider what each stakeholder considers a major issue and allow them to make meaningful contributions to the project.
Stakeholder Engagement Assessment Matrix
One of the most challenging tasks you will face as a project manager is managing stakeholders’ engagement. There are different techniques, such as a stakeholder engagement matrix designed to improve your stakeholder management process.
The stakeholder engagement assessment matrix is a powerful project management model that project managers use to monitor stakeholders’ engagement levels. The technique also identifies potential gaps in the levels of engagement and forms discussions about each stakeholder’s desired level of involvement. The stakeholder engagement matrix was introduced as part of several processes in the PMBOK, including:
- Communications management planning
- Communications monitoring
- Stakeholder engagement planning
- Stakeholder involvement monitoring
The stakeholder matrix documents the desired involvement of every stakeholder in the planning processes. In the monitoring processes, the matrix compares the degree of stakeholder involvement to the level desired by project managers. As a result, it helps you to identify gaps and know how to handle them.
Benefits of a Stakeholders Engagement Assessment Matrix?
Identifying how stakeholders feel about the project will help you in many ways:
Increase Project Support
The matrix helps you identify stakeholders who broadly support the project and ensures you communicate in such a manner to gain their continued support. You can ensure these stakeholders have current information about the project. If the stakeholders are influential and trusted, you can encourage them to share the information.
Build awareness and engagement
People with disinterest in change can negatively impact your project success. You need to identify stakeholders who seem unaware of the project and develop an effective communication plan to increase their awareness and involvement. Keeping people in the loop and getting their feedback will make them active participants.
Why use Engagement Assessment Matrix?
A stakeholder engagement assessment matrix has many rows representing individual or homogenous stakeholder groups. The columns show the degree of involvement of the stakeholders. Stakeholders can be classified in various ways:
- Unaware. It is the first level where stakeholders do not know about the project and how it may impact them.
- Resistant. In this category, stakeholders are aware of the project but resist change.
- Neutral. Neutral stakeholders know about the project, but they do not support or resist it.
- Supportive. At this level, stakeholders know about the project and its outcome and fully support it.
- Leading. Leading stakeholders know about the project and how it will impact them and are proactive in ensuring the successful delivery of the project. They are typically referred to as change champions.
According to the PMI’s taxonomy, the letter C is used to document the current degree of engagement while the desired level is labeled as D. A C can appear in any of the five columns. In contrast, a D is not applicable to resistant and unaware columns since you will not want to have incompetent stakeholders in your project.
Developing a Stakeholder Engagement Plan
You should consider the steps below when developing a stakeholder engagement plan:
- Classify stakeholders. It is the first step to developing an engagement plan for stakeholders. In this step, you classify the stakeholders into groups to help you effectively plan the next steps. You can categorize stakeholders as supporting or opposing. Stakeholders can also be grouped as either upwards, downwards, sideways, or outwards. For instance, upwards are stakeholders from the parent company while sideways consist of project contractors and suppliers. Outwards can be used to categorize competing projects, and downwards are the project management team and suppliers.
- Develop the power grid. A power grid is a tool for analyzing stakeholders. The tool defines stakeholders’ power on the y-axis. Power refers to the stakeholder’s influence to change the project. On the other hand, the x-axis contains the degree of interest of the stakeholder. The level of interest defines how the interests of the stakeholders overlap with the project. In other words, it is the stake of the stakeholders in the project.
- Define power. The location of the stakeholder on the graph is important, but you should have a verbal analysis of the power to determine the stakeholder’s real interest in the project. Defining stakeholders’ power will help you determine their level of influence. If the stakeholders have a greater influence on the project, you need to keep them updated on the project process.
- Outline interest. It is important to define stakeholders’ interest in the project. You can do this by expanding and analyzing the location of stakeholders on the chart. You need to prioritize the business interests of the stakeholders and fully describe their needs and wants so that the project management team gains an in-depth understanding and strategizes how to engage them.
- Create a stakeholder engagement plan. Conducting a power and influence analysis will help you come up with the best stakeholder engagement plan. The information will help you itemize stakeholders’ communication needs. You will know the suitable communications forms for each stakeholder. What’s more, you will also determine the communication frequency.
Stakeholder Engagement Plan Templates
Google Docs Free Stakeholder Engagement Plan
Google Sheets Free Stakeholder Engagement Plan
Free Stakeholder Engagement Plan Template Excel
Free Stakeholder Engagement Plan PDF
More of our favorite stakeholder engagement templets include….
Stakeholder Engagement FAQs
What is stakeholder engagement examples?
An example of stakeholder engagement is when a council decides to construct a memorial to honor veterans in the local war. The council will need to consult with the families of the veterans about the project, consult a local sculptor on the best design and involve the media in promoting the launch of the project.
What are stakeholder engagement strategies?
Companies make decisions that affect the interests of stakeholders. However, remember stakeholder groups are not equal; some may need daily updates on project developments while others will need minimal contact. A stakeholder engagement strategy helps you plan the frequency of communication with various stakeholders and select the ideal communication tools.
What are the five steps to stakeholder engagement?
The five steps are:
– Engagement strategy. Here, you review past levels of engagement and set the vision for future stakeholder engagements.
– Stakeholder mapping. In this stage, you define the criteria you will use to select and prioritize stakeholders. In addition, you choose the best involvement mechanisms.
– Preparation. The preparation stage helps you to focus on your long-term objectives and budget for engagement.
– Engagement. Conduct the engagement while ensuring equitable contributions from each stakeholder and mitigating any tension.
– Action. The action plan allows you to identify opportunities from stakeholders’ feedback and revisit your goals. From the feedback, you can plan your future steps for future involvement.
What is stakeholder engagement and why is it important?
Stakeholder engagement enables companies to collaborate with or inform their stakeholders about the ongoing project. The process involves identifying, mapping, and prioritizing stakeholders to know the best methods for effective communication using the available tools.
Stakeholder engagement is critical in helping organizations to consider the needs and opinions of individuals with a stake in their form. Consequently, it enhances trust, connections and builds confidence in your organization. When you conduct stakeholder engagement appropriately, it will prevent conflicts among different stakeholder groups. It will also eliminate uncertainties, disengagements by some stakeholders, dissatisfaction, and resistance to the project.
What is the difference between smoothing and compromising?
Smoothing and compromising are conflict resolution techniques applied in different situations. Smoothing emphasizes the areas of agreement to both parties and downplays areas of disagreement to resolve the matter.
Project managers use this technique when they need a temporary resolution. In contrast, compromising involves both parties giving up something to find areas of agreement that partly satisfy each party. Managers use the method when there is a need to reach a mutual and acceptable solution to both parties
How to Improve Stakeholder Engagement
Stakeholder engagement plans are very important to projects that require them. Constantly improving the stakeholder consultation process will drive more success rather than sticking to a rigid plan. There are many ways you can improve stakeholder involvement in your projects. These include the following.
Demonstrate Care and Concern for Stakeholders
When you show you care, stakeholders will understand that you want to win them on your side and will assume you have an effective plan to do that. Organizations that employ a more aggressive and poor attitude to strong-arm stakeholders to approve their projects get negative outcomes. An empathetic-free attitude will make stakeholders develop opposition to your change. Despite your ability to stop their ideas and concerns, the stakeholders may spread negative words about your organization which will significantly cost you money and time to neutralize the bad word of mouth. You need to exercise empathy when opposing stakeholders’ suggestions to prevent you from damaging your reputation
Emphasize the Human Aspect
Organizations that wish to increase their profit margins often take up projects in the private sector. Government and non-governmental organizations also set goals that align with the conflicting interest of stakeholders. However, not all stakeholders are all about the money; some aim to promote social benefits of the project, for example, employment benefits and generation of income in the society. Therefore, when presenting your project idea to stakeholders or consulting them, you should emphasize societal benefits rather than focusing on profits only. There are projects structures that are extremely profit-driven at the expense of other people, so you should evaluate your plan and make the necessary changes.
Ensure Stakeholders a Voice
Most people want and love to be heard. When you allow stakeholders to voice their ideas and concerns, but can bring a lot of transformation. Most stakeholders know that you may let them share their ideas but ignore them. So, they will be aligned with your goals when they know you have genuinely listened to them and implemented their ideas.
Project managers have several responsibilities, which involve initiating, planning, controlling, executing, and monitoring projects that focus on achieving specific organizational goals. In addition, they also need to ensure stakeholder engagement. However, the role is often overlooked, especially by new project managers since they do know the stakeholders’ power in the failure or success of the project. You need to familiarize yourself with stakeholder engagement tools and stakeholder engagement skills to increase the chances of project success.