Stakeholder engagement within a programme or project

In a programme and project management environment, a stakeholder is an individual or group that has an interest in the proposed change and can influence or impact the success of that change.

What is stakeholder engagement?

Stakeholder engagement involves building and maintaining relationships. It also involves preserving the active support and commitment of the people to the implementation of change, through programme or project delivery.

Understanding motives and agendas of stakeholders makes it possible to influence the change process positively, and to address issues that may be potential barriers to change.

At its most basic level, a stakeholder engagement approach typically includes:

  • stakeholder assessment and mapping, including their interests, influence and potential impact on them,
  • identification of key concerns, risks and mitigating actions
  • outputs from stakeholder mapping used as a basis for flexible communications
  • creation and monitoring of the stakeholder action plan using stakeholder mapping information

Mapping stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement is designed to take account of all the individuals and groups impacted by the proposed change and to achieve a deeper understanding of their various interests. Stakeholders should initially be listed and profiled (or mapped) under the headings:

  • stakeholder - individual or group
  • likely impact of change on stakeholder
  • potential issues and concerns
  • potential risks to change if concerns are not addressed

A stakeholder matrix is another simple technique. It illustrates the level of impact of the change on stakeholders against the importance of the stakeholders to the success of the change.

Stakeholder engagement best practice

There are many good sources of stakeholder engagement best practice including the general information available from the Association for Project Management (APM).

Stakeholder engagement roles and responsibilities

The main stakeholder engagement roles and responsibilities are:

  • Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) - responsible for early engagement and managing the relationship with key stakeholders; the SRO endorses and owns the overall approach to stakeholder engagement
  • Programme or Project sponsor - responsible for visible public commitment and support; has the lead role in anticipating and resolving senior stakeholder issues
  •  Programme/Project Board- supports the SRO and owns the stakeholder engagement in each member business area; responsible for regular review and endorsement of the overall approach to stakeholder engagement
  • Programme/Project Manager - development and management of the stakeholder engagement approach, developing stakeholder profiles and aligning relevant communications activities
  • Business Change Manager (BCM) engaging with business units and leading the implementation of new working practices; the BCM is responsible for ongoing communication with stakeholders to identify new benefits and improved ways of working
  • Programme/Project Management Office - maintaining all relevant stakeholder information and facilitating the activities specified in the communications plan.

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