Stakeholder planning

Having performed stakeholder analysis the next stage is planning how you will engage them. There are lots of approaches to this, my favorite (as always) is to keep it simple. Regardless of whether you have a specific goal or a more long term interest it is important that efficient, cost effective communication approaches are used. Push communications are appropriate for low interest/low influence stakeholders where attempts at partnership would be a waste of time and money. Collaboration and partnership are appropriate for key players – stakeholders with high influence and high interest who could bring benefits to the organization or project, but who if not managed may bring considerable risk.

The diagram below illustrates the relationship between stakeholder influence/power and stakeholder engagement approaches.

stakeholder-engagement

You can see there are a number of planning/ engagement approaches that could be taken.

Partnership

  • Shared accountability and responsibility
  • Two-way engagement joint learning, decision making and actions.
  • Participation

  • Part of the team, engaged in delivering tasks or with responsibility for a particular area/activity
  • Two way engagement within limits of responsibility.
  • Consultation

  • Involved, but not responsible and not necessarily able to influence outside of consultation boundaries
  • Limited two-way engagement; organisation asks questions, stakeholders answer.
  • Push communications

  • One way engagement
  • Organisation may broadcast information to all stakeholders or target particular stakeholder groups using various channels e.g. email, letter, webcasts, podcasts, videos, leaflets.
  • Pull communications

  • One way engagement
  • Information is made available stakeholder choose whether to engage with it.
  • Use the Stakeholder planning model above to review your communication plan and stakeholder analysis. Make sure that your engagement approaches are appropriate to each stakeholder group. Check that your communication plan isn’t over reliant on push or pull communications and that you aren’t planning to spend too much time in face to face consultations with the less influential stakeholders. Consider whether more costly push communication methods like printed materials can be replaced with cheaper options like email, online surveys or online newsletters.

    Once you have reviewed your plans you need to pull your work together to form your stakeholder engagement strategy. This should contain the following sections:

  • Purpose of the document
  • Project background
  • Introduction
  • Stakeholder analysis and rationale
  • Stakeholder communication plan.
  • These are in my experience the key steps in stakeholder planning.By now, you know who your stakeholders are, you have identified the key players and you have a plan for engaging with them. You are already way ahead.