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APM launches new stakeholder engagement resource

With 10 key principles, 14 case studies (roughly 11,000 words) and an extensive bibliography covering five decades, the new stakeholder engagement pages on the APM website is a ‘must see’ for all budding project professionals.

The online resource was produced by the Stakeholder Engagement Focus Group – an APM-funded research project, led by the Oxford APM Chapter – and includes a collection of tools, techniques, patterns, papers and case studies. 

The content is based on the recently published RICS/APM Stakeholder Engagement Guidance note, which outlines 10 key principles for the promotion of good stakeholder practice.  

Stressing its importance the group said: “Engaging stakeholders is a crucial capability and role a project manager needs to undertake. 

“All the project deliverables can be undermined if there are areas of an organisation with poor stakeholder commitment, and yet there is very little information available to those who are starting out in project management.”

Among the case studies listed are examples of stakeholder engagement in software, public infrastructure and change projects. They also include UK and international projects. 

All the content is free to view and the hope is that, through the sharing of ideas and experiences, further resources will be added. “It is our aim that this collection will grow over time, but we need your help to make this happen,” the group added. 

Good stakeholder management was recently recognised by APM research as a critical factor in creating the Conditions for Project Success. The report stressed the importance of clear goals and objectives ‘recognised by all stakeholders’, along with supportive organisations with ‘access to stakeholders’ as playing a crucial role in the formation and delivery of the project.

The stakeholder engagement pages are seen by APM as helping to bridge the gap between theory and practice, another of the key findings of the research. 

You can learn more by messaging the stakeholder group on Twitter @APMSefg.

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  1. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 13 June 2015, 08:01 AM

    The newly launched ‘online-resource’ for stakeholder engagement is a good start but tends to be simplistic.  Unfortunately it ignores most of the key elements of making your project successful and many of the readily available resources to help.  Some of the major omissions in the work to date are:Stakeholder engagement is a whole of team effort, not the job of the project manager. Every interaction with another person is a stakeholder engagement and needs to be planned and consistent.Stakeholder engagement is not a passive ‘communication activity’. The ONLY way a project will be successful is if the right stakeholders provide the necessary resources and support at the right time. The primary purpose of all stakeholder communication is to make sure this happens.Altruism is a wonderful thing - but relying on the altruism of stakeholders is a recipe for failure. The project team need to understand what is motivating the stakeholder (what’s in it for them) and then work out how to align what the project needs with what the stakeholder wants to get the resources and support needed.The page is correct in noting that communication within a robust relationship is the only way of engaging effectively with stakeholders but forgets this is a very time consuming exercise. As with risks, there are always too many stakeholders to engage, but there is no advice on prioritisation (who really matters at this point in time) and approaches for monitoring the overall community to identify changes and emerging issues early.Stakeholder attitudes are only mentioned in passing.  It is critically important to understand the current attitude of important stakeholders, work out the desired ‘realistic attitude’ for the person or organisation and if a change in attitude is required, implement a communication strategy to affect the change -  then monitor the relationship to see if the communications have been successful.Proactive stakeholder management is built around communicating for effect. You need to know who to communicate with and what effect you require.Some of the more useful resources ignored by the Oxford team include:For dealing with senior stakeholders: Advising Upwards: A Framework for Understanding and Engaging Senior Management Stakeholders, Gower Publishing Ltd, Aldershot, UK. http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9780566092497For implementing effective stakeholder engagement: Stakeholder Relationship Management: A Maturity Model for Organisational Implementation, Gower Publishing Ltd, Aldershot, UK. http://www.gowerpub.com/isbn/9780566088643On the role of communication in project management: Making Projects Work: Effective Stakeholder and Communication Management, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL, USA. https://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781482206661These books are not cheap but neither is project failure!  For a completely free resource which anyone can make use of under a Creative Commons licence (ie, the materials can be used in commerce) see:Stakeholder engagement: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-Knowledge_Index.html#PPM10Project communication:  http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-Knowledge_Index.html#PPM07I will be happy to arrange for all of these resources to be made available to the APM if it decides to take professionalism n stakeholder management seriously. 

  2. Fran Bodley-Scott
    Fran Bodley-Scott 17 June 2015, 11:37 AM

    Patrick - as you say, a good start but there's clearly a long way to go. As well as the gaps you've pointed out, you do have to dig through the case studies to find some of the nuggets of insight. However, the wealth of additional resources that you've highlighted serves to illustrate the complexity of this topic. For a project manager or member of a project team who's trying to get to get to grips with stakeholder engagement, it must seem like there's a tidal wave of information out there to wade through. Where to start? I think this APM resource starts to provide a framework for making the knowledge accessible. Well done to the team who put this together for starting the ball rolling.