How Effective Is Your Project Stakeholder Management Plan?

Ken Martin
By | Updated November 5, 2015 | 7 min read
stakeholder engagement

It is recognized that change and service transformation within organizations is difficult, and it can provoke powerful “negative” reactions from stakeholders.

Effective stakeholder management is important and often a critical success factor to a positive project outcome.


Stakeholder Management is a Process

Stakeholder Engagement is a process by which an organization learns about the perceptions, issues, and expectations of its stakeholders, and uses these views to assist in managing, supporting, and influencing any planned changes/improvements in service delivery.

Stakeholders can be defined as any person or group of people who have an interest in or will be affected by, any planned changes in an organization.

  • They can be internal or external to that organization and they can comprise of IT staff, leaders, business partners, users, external suppliers etc.
  • Stakeholder engagement is all about building relationships with people who you affect through your work, or who could make an impact on your success.
  • It is the foundation of effective organizational responsibility and refers to the formal management of the human dimensions of change.
  • IT organizations and other change agents within organizations need to do more to ensure that stakeholders are actively engaged in developing proposals for change, and also explaining the reasons behind any decisions that are made.
  • There are tremendous benefits to be realized from improving stakeholder engagement in service transformation and other change initiatives.
  • Stakeholder management can increase the likelihood of a service transformation initiative or change project succeeding and minimizes the risk of failure.
  • It provides access to a wide range of views, expertise, values, and beliefs, which can be integrated into the service transformation or change project.
  • Views can be incorporated into developing the case for change and the resultant realization benefits of benefits.


The Principles of Stakeholder Management

  • Identify and understand your stakeholders.
  • Define who needs to be involved, who needs to be informed, and who is likely to be affected by the issues under consideration.
  • Make sure all stakeholders are appropriately involved and ensure the activity is relevant to your stakeholders’ interests.
  • Consider who is likely to be affected by the implications of the matter in hand.


Stakeholder Analysis

  1. Identify all the stakeholders affected by the planned change.
  2. Perform a stakeholder mapping and analysis aimed to identify and group the individual stakeholders.
  3. Assess stakeholder interests in relation to the change project.
  4. Understand how these interests might impact upon the project.
  5. Develop a power/influence stakeholder map.
  6. Use the stakeholder map to identify the most effective way to inform stakeholders of developments within the change project.


Appropriate means of communication are defined for each stakeholder group.

Organize some events that encourage people to participate and air their issues and concerns as well as giving them facts and the “TO BE” state

Ask everyone to state one benefit they would like to see from the change project.


Organizational Readiness For Change

The parts of the organization impacted by the project need to be thoroughly informed of the change effort before they can provide the support and ownership that is necessary to the success of the project.

A properly developed communication plan will ensure that the stakeholders are aware of the project, buy-in to the new changes and develop a sense of ownership for the successful implementation of the project.


Communication Plan Objectives

To capitalize on existing communications channels within an organization in communicating the key messages of the project to the respective stakeholders.


Create a communications strategy to:

  • Disseminate the vision and objectives of the project.
  • To address the target audiences and issues, and gain support for the implementation of the project.
  • To develop and implement a detailed communication plan for the project, including assign timings and responsibilities to individual communication actions
  • To identify the areas which will be impacted by the project and identify communication strategies to overcome them.


Development of a Communication Plan

This stage involves creating a plan to address the stakeholders’ communication needs, taking into consideration the various appropriate communication channels, key messages, senders, and feedback mechanism.

  • The communication plan will also include the frequency or timeframe and responsibilities for implementing the communication activities.
  • Identify the infrastructure needed to implement the communication activities.
  • Plan the activities and define the roles required to implement the communication plan.
  • Develop the detailed messages of the communications plan for each set of stakeholders
  • Develop the mechanism to monitor, evaluate and report the effectiveness of communication.
  • Identify the potential issues and constraints to implement the communications plan
  • Implement the communication plan to the stakeholders.


Project Readiness Assessment

A simple questionnaire is carried out to capture the organization’s readiness to implement the planned project.

Analysis from the exercise will be used to determine the appropriate strategy required to ensure sufficient support and success during the implementation of the Project.


Key Stakeholder Questions

  • Are you and your staff aware of the planned project?
  • What is your vision of the project once it is fully or successfully implemented?
  • How do you translate this into measurable benefits?
  • What do you NOT want the project dis-benefits to be?
  • Do you and your staff understand the potential impacts on their current roles and responsibilities?
  • In your opinion, what are the potential enablers in the implementation of the project?
  • In your opinion, what are the potential barriers to the implementation of the project?
  • If you are to communicate with people in the organization impacted by the project, what is your message?



  • Communications are the fuel that drives project success, and the mishandling of it is one of the top 5 reasons why change projects fail.
  • It is critical that a project manager ensures that quality and effective communications for a project is a top priority. Consider using a Project Management Information tool such as BrightWork to maximize transparency and communications.
  • A key success factor for effective communications is understanding the stakeholders and tailoring communications to their needs.
  • One size doesn’t fit all. You need to employ a variety of techniques to understand the range of stakeholder views.
  • Make communications a high priority. Plan enough time for effective stakeholder engagement.
  • Ensure communications are clear, concise, courteous, consistent & compelling.
  • Take responsibility for the understanding of communications.
  • Use communications to build trusting and supporting relationships.
  • Be proactive in communications with a principle of ‘no surprises’.
  • Understand the political and cultural environment.
  • Coordinate the communication activity across the project to monitor the accuracy of the key messages, improve efficiency and avoid mixed messages being given to different stakeholders.
  • People give their own views and identify what the potential issues are for them. Collect and analyze the full range of views and group them into themes to get the big picture.
  • Be prepared to listen. Don’t assume you know what people want and what their aspirations are, as they can be very different to what you perceive them to be. Aim for understanding individual stakeholder needs and concerns.
  • Know your stakeholders – do a stakeholder analysis.
  • React with positive intent, assume other parties have a valid reason.
  • Validate perceptions before responding.
  • Manage reality and perception with communications.
  • Ask questions to confirm and improve understanding.
  • Employ multiple communication mediums. Centralize project information and communications.



Image credit 

Ken Martin
Ken Martin

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