Stakeholder Engagement – Lessons Learned

Below is a list of lessons learned relating to Stakeholder Engagement, taken from a selection of recently completed programmes and projects across the NICS.

Issue 1 - Tripartite relationship between suppliers and project team not settled until the operational phase commenced. There were difficulties experienced in having the multiple suppliers working harmoniously.

Recommendation 1 - A Memorandum of Understanding should be agreed and committed to by all parties at an early stage.

Issue 2 - Ensure a single vision for the strategic outcome for the investment and identify key stakeholders early. Ensure full engagement with them.

Recommendation 2 - Have a project structure which includes a reference group of all stakeholders and staff relevant to a site, feeding in and approving the design; and a project structure which provides a collective project view which is then followed through.

Issue 3 - The project team and key supplier met regularly with critical suppliers who had the potential to delay the manufacturing program, ensuring that project timescales were understood, and actions taken to prevent delays.

Recommendation 3 - Maintaining regular contact with key stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Issue 4 - Limited feedback from stakeholders to requests for information.

Recommendation 4 - Project team to maintain and update Engagement Strategy and Communications Plan. All stakeholders to actively participate with the project team including attendance at relevant workshops.

Issue 5 - Need to complete stakeholder mapping early to identify any gaps in stakeholder engagement. 

Recommendation 5 - Stakeholder mapping to be completed for each project at an early stage and continually reviewed as project progresses.

Issue 6 - Implementation of the Scheme has required a significant amount of collaboration from the outset. The Department set up an oversight group with representation from a wide range of stakeholders, establishing good working relationships between Departments and ALBs.

Recommendation 6 - Working relationships have been excellent since the group was established and these have continued through the implementation phase. Going forward, it is important that regular engagement through meetings with the key delivery partners continues.

Issue 7 - A key supplier establishing a single technical point of contact was hugely positive. After engaging with several technical experts, the supplier assigned a digital architect as a single point of contact.

Recommendation 7 - There needs to be a single point of contact within each supplier to progress matters at an appropriate level.

Issue 8 - Stakeholder engagement and buy-in is critical. It is essential that projects are agreed that match stakeholder requirements and priorities and that stakeholders and other service users are involved throughout the digital modernisation process to achieve buy-in and avoid rework.

Recommendation 8 - It is essential to engage early and regularly with the stakeholders and other service users to ensure that the direction and the work being completed will meet their requirements.  This must be incorporated into project plans as well as project-level communications and engagement plans.

Industry guidance/ further reading

PRINCE2, Managing successful projects with PRINCE2, 6th edition (2017), pp. 61, 75-76, 90, 203.

APM, APM Body of Knowledge, 7th edition (2019), section 3.1.

NICSHR, Building and Maintaining Working Relationships, via LInKS.

Commercial Delivery Group’s Programme and Project Management hub: Stakeholder engagement within a programme or project | Department of Finance (

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