Want To Deliver Great Projects? It Pays To Know Your Stakeholders.
A stakeholder analysis will help you understand and manage relationships, and increase the likelihood of achieving your overall project outcome.
Failure to understand the dynamics of people and relationships can lead to issues that will have a negative impact. Therefore, stakeholder identification and analysis is integral to the engagement planning process and business success.
I was recently involved in a meeting to discuss a regional infrastructure project – the design was final, the funding in the bank, and the crews ready to start work. It was only at this point, with some preliminary work being undertaken, it was discovered that the local community wasn’t happy about the impact of the works. They wanted the project…just not in that spot with that impact.
Like many projects, the project team had a list of stakeholders identified. Unfortunately, in this case, the next step into analysis of those stakeholders was not undertaken, and therefore the company involved did not know that for local stakeholders environment and amenity impact was an issue.
It was a significant issue too because the area boasted several environmental groups and individuals of local, state and national influence all unhappy with real and perceived impact in their neighbourhood. In this case, the project faced continuing with significant community unrest, delays to the project to rework the plans or potentially having to go back to square one.
Stakeholder identification and analysis is a crucial first step for any project leader or organisation wanting to create positive outcomes. Here are a few reasons why:
1. You will identify your partners – be they friend or ‘foe’. These are the people you cannot proceed without. These are the people you need to understand, create a relationship with and harness their expertise, to achieve a successful project.
2. You will identify any ‘outreach’ program required. This includes those individuals and groups who are often directly and negatively impacted by a project but don’t necessarily have a voice. Understanding and working with this group is extremely important these days when social media can amplify voices – quickly.
3. You can target your communication activity. A Communication Plan is an important tool in community and stakeholder engagement. But it cannot be the only tool you use. Knowing where to target your communication, and who needs a more strategic engagement approach, will facilitate a smooth project implementation. It is stakeholder analysis that will help you know the difference.
There is no 100% guarantee that unexpected objectors will appear, but a solid understanding of whom you need to know, and how you can effectively build a strategic engagement and relationship management program, will dramatically improve results.
There are a few different methods of stakeholder analysis. My preference is a simple, effective and versatile tool. If you would like to know more about this method download my guide to Stakeholder Analysis here. Click here to download.