Help Files

Stakeholder Engagement

Detailed Methodology

Stakeholder engagement, building robust and useful relationships can only be achieved through effective communication. In this respect ‘communication’ is far more than project reports, it includes informal discussions over coffee, emails, blogs and every other transfer of information from the project team to a stakeholder. The challenge is to keep the communication workload manageable and the communication effective.

The Stakeholder Circle visualization tool charts a project’s key stakeholders according to their ability to influence the project’s success or failure. Categorization and charting of stakeholders holds the key to targeting the rightstakeholders at the right time in the life of the project and providing them with the right level of engagement, information and communication.

Defining appropriate responses requires an understanding of each stakeholder’s levels of support and receptiveness to messages about the project and if these levels are optimal or need improving: this is the engagement strategy and the precursor to a targeted communication plan. Data available in the tool and collected from earlier phases in this process are inputs to the engagement strategy.

Knowing the category (upwards, downwards, sidewards, outwards) of a stakeholder will provide the key to how the message should be developed and delivered:

  • Communication to a senior manager will need to contain only relevant information, in the format necessary, to provide management will essential data about the project
  • Messages to team members will need more detail and different language.

Knowing the expectations of the stakeholder in the form of ‘what each stakeholder requires from the project’ will help the project team deliver information that should assure the stakeholder that what they expect to gain from successful delivery of the project will be achieved and help in the negotiations with unsupportive stakeholders.

Assess Stakeholders

The first step in developing the engagement strategy is to assess the levels of receptiveness and support for each stakeholder. The ranges are:

  • Receptiveness:
    • 1 = Completely Uninterested – Refuses to accept reports
    • 2 = Not Interested – On mail list but unlikely to read reports
    • 3 = Neutral – Receives Reports
    • 4 = Medium – Indirect personal access
    • 5 = High – Direct personal contacts
  • Support:
    • 1 = Active Opposition
    • 2 = Passive opposition
    • 3 = Neutral
    • 4 = Passive support
    • 5 = Active support

One way to make the assessment process relatively objective is to identify a person who is ‘just within’ each of the categories (eg someone who is just in the ‘Passive support’ category) then by comparing the level of support of another stakeholder to the ‘minimum benchmark’ stakeholder it is easier to determine if the level of support is about the same or better in which case the stakeholder will score a 4 (or a 5 if they are deemed equal or more supportive than the next categories benchmark). If the level of support is lower, the stakeholder would score a 3 or lower. The critical outcome from this process is not to rank stakeholders against some abstract benchmark, rather to build a comparative order so that an optimum communications plan can be developed.

The current levels of support and receptiveness for the stakeholder are shown in a 5 x 5 matrix, the S/H Profile.

The next assessment is to determine a ‘realistic optimum’ for each stakeholder, this may be equal to, or lower than the current assessment, slightly better or significantly better. This ‘target’ is shown as green, orange or red square within the matrix.

Having assessed the stakeholder’s current level of engagement, the optimum level of engagement and the difference between the two, a communication plan needs to be developed to enhance or maintain each key stakeholder’s levels of receptiveness and supportiveness.

Changes over time (based on changes in the version number) for an individual stakeholder can be seen from the ‘show history’ button.

Aggregate data for all stakeholders is displayed in the Engagement Profile (see Stakeholder Engagement Profile)

Monitoring Engagement and Identifying Issues

The effectiveness of the communication plan in maintaining and improving the level of engagement should be tracked at regular intervals (see Tracking Trends and Changes)

The communication process is also likely to identify issues that will need recording and managing (see Managing Issues)

Notes:

Not all of the above features are available in the SWS Excel Spreadsheet or SoaP Word Template. For a summary of the features in each tool see: Tools Description

When ready, the list can be sorted and printed for checking.

Management of the communication plan is facilitated in our CommPlan Spreadsheet, to download a free sample see: CommPlan Sales.

Visit the Methodology Page to read a summary of the overall Stakeholder Circle methodology.

Data Entry / Data Management

Stakeholder Engagement List Navigation

Select ‘SH Engagement’ from the Main Menu to see a list of all Active stakeholders.

List Navigation: the primary options are:

  • Main Menu – returns to the Main Menu
  • Show Active – (Default) shows all active stakeholders (does not show inactive)
  • Show Inactive – shows any stakeholders that have been marked as ‘Inactive’
  • Use the scroll bar to move between records.

The secondary options are:

  • Sorts – The list may be sorted by:
    • Number – this is a sequential number created by the system
    • Name – a simple character based alphabetical sort
    • Direction – U, O, S, D o Internal External
    • Priority #
  • Print – Takes to a print option based on the current selection and sort order (see Print Reports) A summary or full report can be printed.

Entering and Editing Stakeholder Data

All data is entered via the ‘Edit Stakeholder’ pop up.

  • Select the Engagement Radio Button to change the more of operation of the database to Engagement.
  • Select ‘Edit’ to edit the specific stakeholder

Data Entry – Previously Entered Data

Data entered during the Identification and Prioritization phases are carried forward, but cannot be edited on this pop-up. To edit this data, change the radio button selection.

Data Entry – Mandatory Engagement Data

The Engagement data required for each stakeholder is:

  • Receptiveness (rating of 1 to 5) – defines the stakeholder’s willingness to receive messages from the project, the descriptions for each level are:
    • 1 = Completely Uninterested – Refuses to accept reports
    • 2 = Not Interested – On mail list but unlikely to read reports
    • 3 = Neutral – Receives Reports
    • 4 = Medium – Indirect personal access
    • 5 = High – Direct personal contacts
  • Level of Support (rating of 1 to 5) – defines how supportive of the project objectives the stakeholder is. The descriptions for each level are:
    • 1 = Active Opposition
    • 2 = Passive opposition
    • 3 = Neutral
    • 4 = Passive support
    • 5 = Active support

Benchmarking can be used to make the assessment process relatively objective. First, identify a person who is ‘just within’ each of the categories (eg someone who is just in the ‘Passive support’ category) then by comparing the level of support of another stakeholder to the ‘minimum benchmark’ stakeholder it is easier to determine if the level of support is about the same or better in which case the stakeholder will score the same as the benchmark stakeholder (or higher if they are deemed equal or more supportive than the next categories benchmark). If the level of support is lower, the stakeholder would score lower.

If the team cannot agree on a value for any of these parameters, set the value to 3 (this is the neutral rating) the value can be edited at a later date when more information is available.

Data Entry – Other

  • Receptiveness (rating of 1 to 5) – defines the stakeholder’s willingness to receive messages from the project, the descriptions for each level are:
    • 1 = Completely Uninterested – Refuses to accept reports
    • 2 = Not Interested – On mail list but unlikely to read reports
    • 3 = Neutral – Receives Reports
    • 4 = Medium – Indirect personal access
    • 5 = High – Direct personal contacts
  • Level of Support (rating of 1 to 5) – defines how supportive of the project objectives the stakeholder is. The descriptions for each level are:
    • 1 = Active Opposition
    • 2 = Passive opposition
    • 3 = Neutral
    • 4 = Passive support
    • 5 = Active support
  • Notes & Comments – many of the decisions made during this and other processes will be subjective, the notes field should be used to annotate and record decisions to assist in further analysis and review at a later date
  • Stakeholder Active – this defaults to ‘Active’:
    • If the stakeholder was involved with the project and has since ceased to be involved (eg a manager who has left the organization) set this field to ‘Inactive’. Inactive stakeholders are retained in the system for reference purposes but are excluded from all current reports.
    • You cannot ‘delete’ a stakeholder, its data may form part of an ‘old’ stakeholder circle or by used for comparative purposes in an ‘Engagement Profile’.

Data Entry – Navigation

  • On completion of the data entry/editing for one stakeholder, you may choose:
    • Save – This returns you to the Stakeholder Identification List
    • Cancel –Abandons the current set of changes
      • Both of these options check to see all mandatory data is present. If you cannot determine the input needed for one of the fields either enter a ‘dummy’ value (it is easily changed later) or make the stakeholder ‘Inactive’.
    • Previous / Next – Steps through he stakeholders in sequence.

Help (email only – 24 Hrs)

Help is available to all Stakeholder Circle users – we will attempt to answer your questions within a 24 hr period. To access help in the first instance email your question to: help@stakeholder-management.com

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