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A Guide to Stakeholder Management

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Last editedJul 20212 min read

Good relationships with clients are essential, and while everyone on your team should be ready to engage and help your client, a concentrated effort to boost your stakeholder management could make all the difference. Find out more, starting with our stakeholder management definition.

Stakeholder management definition

Stakeholder management refers to managing the relationships you have with everyone who has a stake in your business, i.e., a stakeholder. A stakeholder can be anyone impacted by your project, including customers, sponsors, or investors. You may also see the term stakeholder in project management, which refers to people who influence the project.

Professional stakeholder management requires a properly executed plan to ensure long-term collaboration. Stakeholder management covers the following:

  • Engagement: Your communications with the client, as well as the frequency and nature of your engagement based on each stakeholder’s level of involvement/importance.

  • Problem-solving: Working with clients to preempt problems or solve them in a timely manner.

  • Planning: Working with clients to create a plan of action that works for everyone.

  • Prioritizing issues: Creating a plan that considers the needs of the client as well as the processes of your business.

  • The human touch: A project can run smoothly without any human interaction at all (just look at automated processes). But a faceless process isn’t how you build valuable relationships. Make sure your stakeholder management maintains a human feel.

Creating a dedicated stakeholder management plan can – just like a business plan – give everyone a clear roadmap to follow.

Creating a stakeholder management plan

There are lots of things to consider when crafting stakeholder management strategies. Of course, you may need to adjust your plan on a project by project basis, but producing a general template that your team can refer to means that everyone will have a clear idea of what is expected.

Here’s what your stakeholder management plan should include:

Categorize

Your stakeholders won’t all have the same amount of influence or interest in your project, so you should allocate your time and energies accordingly. Mendelow’s Matrix is ideal for this:

  • High power + low interest: Key stakeholders with little interest in the current project, but this could change at any time. Keep them updated on key project progress, but don’t overload your team by creating communications that these stakeholders may not want or need.

  • High power + high interest: Key stakeholders and decision makers. Manage them closely and keep them constantly updated/included in key decisions.

  • Low power + low interest: Stakeholders who have little influence or interest on the project. Monitor them for any opinions or input they might have, but don’t waste time reaching out when it’s not necessary.

  • Low power + high interest: Keep these stakeholders well informed. While they may not have much influence, they can make a lot of difference when it comes to morale or new ideas.

Choose how to communicate

You should make sure stakeholders always know your communication channels are open, but make sure you’re managing them well. For example, spending hours giving a “low power + high interest” stakeholder all the information they need isn’t necessarily an efficient use of your team’s time and resources. Create a communication timetable (i.e., a monthly email) and adapt it to your stakeholders. For example, you could send an additional weekly email to “low power + high interest” and “high power + high interest” individuals, while also inviting the latter group to weekly calls.

Be prepared for human peculiarities

One thing that separates proper stakeholder management from simply being on your best behavior is the understanding that everyone is in it for a reason. Your stakeholders will have different desired outcomes, and this may cause trouble somewhere along the line if you can’t quite see eye to eye.

Ensure you have a plan for conflict resolution and pay close attention to how every change in the project might be perceived by your different stakeholders. For example, if a particularly troublesome stakeholder is never pleased, why not align them with the QA team, who might find better use for such a judgmental eye?

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