Whatever the activity at hand, involving stakeholders could prove to be a crucial decision for the success of a project. Involving stakeholders is a way to achieve influence and positive results through effective relationship management, rather than limiting yourself to communication with your stakeholders.
What is a Stakeholder?
A stakeholder is an individual, a group or organisation that can influence, be influenced or perceive itself to be influenced by a change programme.
Stakeholders can be divided into two macro-categories: internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders are those who work within the organisation while external stakeholders are all those who are affected by the project or its results, even though they are not part of the organisation.
Also read: ITIL4 Stakeholders
Involving rather than communicating
Compared to communication alone, involving stakeholders is a more fruitful and interesting activity for both parties.
Communication is part of involving stakeholders who can thus become part of the decision-making and implementation processes while remaining up-to-date. In this way you can avoid delays that are caused by approval procedures or misunderstandings.
Successfully involving and communicating
The main elements to be considered in the process of involving and communicating with stakeholders in a project are:
- Identifying and analysing stakeholders in order to send the right message to the right audience at the right time in the right way
- Communicating clearly and consistently so that the message is perceived as relevant and stakeholders can have confidence in the activities being carried out
- Using an efficient message delivery system so that stakeholders can be assured that the message will be received on time without problems
- Ensuring that feedback is received effectively and efficiently thus guaranteeing that the communication process works properly
Involving stakeholders: why?
The objectives related to stakeholder involvement within project work are:
- Define and manage the needs of customers, both internal and external
- Obtain support and approval for change initiatives in order to successfully proceed with activities
- Enabling change
It is the stakeholders who authorise and enable change actions at every level, which is why it is so important to put in place processes that involve them. This makes it possible to proceed more quickly, ensuring fewer delays and fewer errors by concluding the project on time and according to established quality standards.
Involving stakeholders: how?
In order to establish a successful relationship, the how to is also crucial. In order to involve stakeholders effectively, it is necessary to:
- Consider fairly those who support and those who oppose the project
- Mitigate the influence of those who only perceive the project as a threat
- Involve all those who have an interest in the project
- Consider even those stakeholders who are indifferent to the implementation of the project
- Deal with those that support or oppose
- Deal with those that may become both supporters and detractors of the project according to the benefits realised and the level of involvement
In a project, stakeholders have great power to influence the way the project is planned and implemented. Obviously, the more stakeholders are involved, the more influence they have. This is also why you should be able to mitigate all inputs received and try to balance the different influences as best as possible.
By involving stakeholders, the relationship with each stakeholder should be managed, as this undergoes changes according to the type of stakeholder, the context of the project and the nature of all parties involved.
Involving stakeholders: when?
The stakeholders should be involved from the very beginning of the project.
If you want to involve stakeholders more than just communicating decisions with them and asking for approval and advice, you need to give them all the tools they need to be able to participate in the decision-making process right from the start.
This will also make it easier to establish relationships and work procedures before hectic or problematic phases of project work.
Involving stakeholders is a way to achieve influence and positive results through effective relationship management.
If you want to read the first-hand experience of a professional, read our interview with Raffaele Albertini: ITIL and customer satisfaction – Interview with Raffaele Albertini