Building an asset on the APM website
It’s two years since the Stakeholder Engagement Focus Group (SEFG), now part of the APM People SIG, launched the stakeholder engagement pages on the APM website. The objective was to help project managers by creating a central resource of information about stakeholder engagement, an important topic perceived to be under-served by the APM.
The new web pages were not perfect but it was a starting point. Clearly more development was needed. So what’s happened since then?
Progress was slow until, in January this year, we asked a basic question: was anyone actually using the stakeholder engagement webpages?
Stakeholder engagement: clearly not a niche topic
As volunteers, members of the SEFG team are a precious resource and their time and effort needs to be spent wisely. The team had launched a new online service, “Useful Links” (see below). It takes effort each month to produce. Was it time well spent? Was our target audience even aware of it?
Asking APM members and staff about the stakeholder engagement website tended to draw blank looks, so there was an assumption that few people knew about the resources. The reality took everyone by surprise.
Figure 1 shows the APM website analytics for January 2017, specifically for the “Key Principles of Stakeholder Engagement” page. In January 4813 unique users visited the site. It was the fifth most popular landing page of all the content on the APM website, beating the membership pages and the announcement about Chartered status. In Google search results, it ranked higher than Wikipedia on the topic of stakeholder engagement. That volume of traffic was not a one-off. In fact in March, it went up to 6874 visitors. (You can find the statistics in the SEFG 2016-2017 Progress Report at the bottom of this article.)
Despite being largely unknown within the APM, the stakeholder engagement web pages are attracting a high volume of traffic. With the potential for reaching a large audience, it’s a significant asset on the APM website.
Revitalising the stakeholder engagement resources
These statistics demonstrate a strong demand for information about stakeholder engagement and stakeholder management. The majority of visitors to the site are less experienced project managers seeking basic information and guidance.
Armed with this information the SEFG, supported by the APM web team, is now working hard to revitalise the stakeholder engagement site. New material, tools and guidance are being created specifically to assist new project managers who seek the basic information, such as the difference between stakeholder engagement and stakeholder management.
The web site will dive into what the key principles really mean; the benefits of compromise or early consultation; what the risks are to your project of poor communication or poor planning; and how you might approach the challenges of negotiation or building relationships.
The new web pages are due to be launched in July.
Useful Links for project managers
One of the new resources that’s already available on the Stakeholder Engagement website is the “Useful Links” monthly update.
Launched in January 2017, “Useful Links” is a monthly snapshot of topical tools, developments and forthcoming events that may be of interest, with links provided to help you find out more. “Useful Links” is also a useful channel or branches and SIGs to share information about stakeholder related events or publications.
Making stakeholder engagement a higher priority
The Stakeholder Engagement Focus Group (SEFG) was formed in 2013. An APM research grant enabled the creation of a new section on the APM website on which to collate stakeholder engagement resources. The priority for 2016/2017 has been to establish the group as part of ‘business as usual’, providing the long term platform to support ongoing maintenance and development of the stakeholder engagement website. To that end, the SEFG merged into the APM People SIG in 2016.
Another priority for 2016-2017 has been to raise awareness across the project management community about the importance of stakeholder engagement to project success. Over the past year, members of the SEFG have delivered a number of presentations to support APM and branch events. It is hoped that the work of the SEFG will act as a catalyst, sparking conversations about stakeholder engagement and prompting practitioners to share experience.
The details of the SEFG activities can be found in the SEFG Progress Report below.
If you would like to know how you can get involved please contact: SEFG@apm.org.uk