The Project Managers Guide to Stakeholder Engagement


Stakeholder engagement makes a huge difference to project outsomes, as this story shows. Here are some tips to help improve your project outcomes.

The Project Managers Guide to Stakeholder Engagement

The Project Manager’s Guide To Stakeholder Engagement

A major fire burned down my local hospital, hospice and 2 doctors’ surgeries. The Town Development Plan process* was thrown into chaos. Now, we have a Town Development Plan that encompasses a 10-year vision. It has the buy-in of key stakeholders and detailed project plans for execution. Why did this example lead to better facilities? The answer lies in stakeholder engagement.

In contrast, another town (with no major incident to contend with) wanted to replace their dilapidated town centre. A large property development company was appointed. Plans were drawn up and consultation with key stakeholders began. Many stakeholders felt alienated and progress was delayed. Several years later, the dispute rumbles on. The town centre looks even more dismal, with no end in sight.

In comparison, my town started by appointing a professional project manager. Then appointed a well-chosen Steering Committee (not dominated by vested interest). Key stakeholders were identified and engaged. Early, thorough consultation gave a clear understanding of the needs, now and in 10 years.  

After consultation, a plan was developed that meets the needs of the community. It could be executed as a programme of smaller, interconnected projects. For some projects, like replacing the burned down hospital, there is a clear and urgent need. Now, however, it will be a Community Centre. It will house the hospital and doctors’ surgeries.

In addition, there will be a 21st Century ‘Learning and Community Workspace’. For other projects there will be a phased approach. This is dependent on availability of funds; buildings becoming vacant; or infrastructure updates.

The plan is now being shared with the wider community. It is clearly based on values of well-being and concern for the environment. Thinly veiled greed and vested interests have been set aside. I applaud those who have given their utmost to develop the plan. They have not allowed the circumstances of the pandemic to derail their commitment. Well done!

So, for a more successful project outcome:

  1. Start by identifying and analysing those most affected (positively or negatively) by your project
  2. Target individuals who influence these groups and engage early, to build trust
  3. As the project progresses, regularly share good and bad news to maintain trust

Clearly, stakeholder engagement makes an enormous difference to project outcomes. It can appear to delay things at the outset. For a successful outcome, start slowly and then break into a run. Rather than start running and fall flat on your face.

Why not experience 90-minutes of free simulation training in stakeholder engagement and management. You will come away with a means of prioritising your stakeholders. Visit our website for dates and to register.

 By Sims4training Founder Trish Thurley

 * Each town is required (by law) to produce a ‘Town Development Plan’, a cohesive vision for the next 5-10 years