Business & Finances

A Guide to Creating a Stakeholder Engagement Plan

With around half of all businesses going under in five years, you’ll need to keep tabs on your stakeholders to be successful. That means prioritizing regular assessments and knowing how to communicate with anyone who impacts your organization. 

Don’t delay. Read this guide to learn how to create a stakeholder engagement plan!

Know Who Your Stakeholders Are

The first step in devising a stakeholder plan is identifying the stakeholders. When you wrote your business plan, you may have noted individuals involved in financing your business, for example. Those people would be stakeholders.

But it’s likely you’ve amassed other supporters, as well. These could include new people interested in providing financial backing. Other stakeholders could include vendors, team members, or government entities.

Anyone who can help you navigate a barrier is a stakeholder. Individuals who grant permits or regulatory bodies all count. And anyone who can be a powerful influencer is a stakeholder, as well. 

You’ll have both internal and external stakeholders, so it can be helpful to make two lists. The team overseeing a project and accounting office would be an example of internal stakeholders. The head of a company would be a stakeholder, too.

External stakeholders could include other contributors from partnering organizations. They may be individuals or specific teams.

Rank Your Stakeholders

Next, you’ll want to do a stakeholder analysis. Developing a stakeholder plan means determining how much value each stakeholder holds. That determination will help shape the type and frequency of communication you pursue with each one. 

For instance, a high-interest stakeholder is one with the ability to have a significant impact. This could be someone with a high-profile reputation that could lend clout to your organization. Or it could be a person with the means to finance big initiatives.

Consider the impact if a particular stakeholder is removed from the equation. If that move would hurt your next project, then that person is a high-interest stakeholder. Similarly, consider the level of interest each stakeholder brings to the project as you rank them.

On the other end of the scale, you’ll have low-interest stakeholders. These are still individuals who still will need to feel included through communication. They may not wield as much power, but they could down the road.

Sometimes low-interest stakeholders can move up the ladder depending on the project, so don’t neglect them. Someone could get a promotion into a regulatory role. Or a particular consultant could have expertise in a project area that sits on the horizon. 

Create a Map

Once you have identified and ranked stakeholders, you’ll need an action plan. For many, using a visual map can be an effective approach. 

A map or template is easy for everyone in your organization to read. And it can help team members brainstorm modes of communication given each person’s ranking. You’ll also want to think about how frequently you’re in contact with people at each level. 

You may even want to determine the software you’ll use to track and engage with stakeholders at this point. Software can provide a platform to streamline this process. Better yet, multiple members of your organization can access it to avoid instances of overlapping or missed communication. 

While some stakeholders may require more personal attention to keep engagement high, that won’t be true for everyone. You may want to develop some automated responses, for example. These can be scheduled to released at certain intervals.

Use your stakeholder map to determine who gets automated responses. You’ll be able to set up a template and update it as information comes in. Then you can send emails to keep even low-interest stakeholders engaged in your activities. 

Plan Your Interactions

Stakeholder strategies always include strong communication. Once you’ve ranked your stakeholders, think about your engagement strategy. It can be useful to outline what this might look like.

For example, you might be seeking a partnership with an organization to boost visibility for a project. In addition, your target partner could help finance the project. This would be an instance where focused and organized communication is essential. 

You might want a sponsorship for an event. That means negotiating terms with a partnering organization. They may want a certain level of recognition in return for a sponsorship.

In other instances, a stakeholder might not be as critical to your current project. You might not need to speak with them as frequently. But you’ll still want to keep the lines of communication open.

Some stakeholders, like consultants, might provide expertise to a part of a project. Keep these individuals informed about project progress, even if they’re not actively involved.

For low-interest stakeholders, you won’t want to invest energy in constant communication. Instead, send updates through email. Or post updates on your website. 

Keep Detailed Records

Finally, make sure to maintain records of all interactions. This is an important step to see that you’re meeting goals for engagement. It also can give you insight into how your plan is working.

Sponsors may ask to see the report, too, before allocating money. Documented work also gives all parties a chance to review what’s happening in the project. 

After a project is over, a detailed document can inform your next decisions. You might determine that you need to demote some stakeholders in the rankings, for instance. Or you might decide that you need to find new ones for more targeted expertise.

In addition, you’ll want to pull all your details into a cohesive report once the project is complete. The report should show the value of stakeholders and the progression of your project.

The report is something that you can show your most high-interest stakeholders. It will be a professional indication of your work and successes as an organization. And it just might help keep high-interest stakeholders interested in offering their influence and financial backing again.

Build a Stakeholder Engagement Plan

A stakeholder engagement plan can be an effective way to keep important individuals involved. Identify and rank your stakeholders first. Then develop a communication plan and keep detailed records. 

Find more tips to help your business thrive. Check back soon for new articles!


Leave a Reply