Stakeholder management and political collaboration is key to the execution and assessment of successful change. They are the driving political force behind change initiatives, projects and programmes. Yet, they are often overlooked by project managers. The success and failure of projects is determined by the stakeholders’ perception of the projects’ outcomes. Many project failures stem from lack of genuine involvement or a failure to identify them at all.
It is therefore essential to ensure comprehensive identification with analysis of needs and then the execution of management actions to ensure they contribute to project success. Political collaboration creates a positive environment in which communication channels are kept open and free from distortions created by deliberate misunderstanding, the focus is progressive and future-oriented not reactive and putting out local ‘fires’.
A stakeholder engagement plan is distinct from any other managed interaction that takes place with individuals as a consequence of executing the general project plan. An understanding of the political environment; who is a zealot, an ally, a waverer, and who an opponent, allows more effective management of scarce communication resources and matches the interaction with the stakeholder, leading to achieving a greater level of planned outcomes.
Using a suite of analytical and planning mechanisms, CITI clearly sets out the political landscape within which the project operates. Stakeholders as named individuals are clearly identified, their WIIFM established and the sources of power and political relationships understood in order to carry out appropriate strategies for true engagement. RACI models are also used to confirm governance structures and communication plans but stakeholder identification, planning and engagement are treated as a discrete topic.
The known stakeholder environment will be described and populated by named individuals. The information required for analysing the needs (WIIFM) is identified and individuals are assigned to collect the necessary data. Additionally, a series of structured discussions will take place with known individuals to confirm details necessary for planning their optimal engagement.
Our approach to business case studies would typically involve the use of the following tools and models: