Inspiring And Enabling People
To Make A Difference
However, adopting this view is not only unhelpful but potentially fatal for your project. Think about it; your stakeholders are the future beneficiaries of your project’s deliverables so why would you keep them at arms length? More than that, they want you to succeed and are, potentially, the biggest advocates of the solution you are building. First and foremost, your stakeholders are your allies. Put your arms around them and give them a reason to believe that they have given their allegiance wisely.
The following “5 Step Stakeholder Management Plan” will help you to not just manage your stakeholders but turn them into your first group of Raving Fans!
1 – Recruit
2 – Plan
3 – Train
4 – Arm
5 – Mobilise
Recruit – who are your key stakeholders? An obvious question but actually one that many people often neglect to pay sufficient attention. One of the first tasks for your emerging project team should be to create a Stakeholder Map. Brainstorm every possible person or group that could be affected by your project, including, but not limited to, existing and future customers/clients, suppliers, managers, sponsors, investors, partners and financiers.
Plan – once you have identified your stakeholders, it’s time to plan how you are going to utilise them in the design, development and delivery of your solution/product. The quickest way is to create a matrix with the stakeholders listed on the left and a series of columns to the right that would want to include as a minimum; key contact, communication vehicles to be used, dates of next interaction, who is responsible from within the project for the relationship with the stakeholder. This last one is important and the column should not contain the same name in every row. Everyone on the project should at least consider how they can get involved and drawing on existing relationships is definitely a good idea.
Train – The first task of the project team is to agree and standardise the core themes and key messages of the project. What are the generic business benefits and what are the specific benefits for each Stakeholder group? The first role of your Stakeholders is to become advocates of what the project is trying to achieve but they are not going to do this by osmosis. How can you help them? Or, more importantly, what training can you provide to ensure that they are confident in communicating your message?
Arm – As the project develops any number of risks and issues will arise and not all of them will have been identified up front. Your Stakeholders will be particularly vulnerable when things are not going smoothly so make sure you arm them with as much detail as possible. Obviously, it is not always possible to provide every detail but as long as they are aware of the anticipated timescales for delay and then delivery, they will be able to defend the you and your project and, continue to feel confident in the outcomes.
Mobilise – So, the project is signed-off and the launch party is announced. Remember that the most important component of the celebration is to mobilise an army of advocates. If you have done your job properly throughout the design and delivery phases, your Stakeholders will already be aware of the key benefits of the solution/product. Now all you need to do is issue them with some great PR phrases, identify for them the target client groups and send them off. Provide everything they will need to transmit your messages clearly and your job is done!