10 key principles of stakeholder engagement
Stakeholder engagement and stakeholder management are arguably the most important ingredients for successful project delivery, and yet are often regarded as a fringe activity or one that can be outsourced to business-as-usual functions. Project managers depend on people to respond to the outputs and benefits that they deliver. People will only respond if they are engaged. The phrase “stakeholder management" implies that these people can be made to respond positively to a project, but the truth is that a project manager frequently has no formal power of authority and therefore has to rely on engagement to achieve his/her objectives.
Volunteer members of the APM Stakeholder Engagement Focus Group (SEFG) have collated the material on these pages. To provide some structure, we adopted the '10 Key Principles’ that was developed out of a joint project between the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Association of Project Management (APM). On this page you will find an overview of each of the ten principles with a link to more information. If there is something you find particularly useful, or something that you feel is missing, please send us your comments through the Contact Form.
Before aiming to engage and influence stakeholders, it’s crucial to seek to understand the people you will be working with and relying on throughout the phases of the project lifecycle. Sharing information with stakeholders is important, but it is equally important to first gather information about your stakeholders.
A project, particularly in the early stages, may be unclear to its stakeholders for example, in terms of purpose, scope, risks and approach. Early, then regular consultation is essential to ensure that requirements are agreed and a delivery solution is negotiated that is acceptable to the majority of stakeholders.
3. Remember, they’re only human
Accept that humans do not always behave in a rational, reasonable, consistent or predictable way and operate with an awareness of human feelings and potential personal agendas. By understanding the root cause of stakeholder behaviour, you can assess if there is a better way to work together to maintain a productive relationship
Developing relationships results in increased trust. And where there is trust, people work together more easily and effectively. Investing effort in identifying and building stakeholder relationships can increase confidence across the project environment, minimise uncertainty, and speed problem solving and decision-making.
6. Simple, but not easy
Over and above conventional planning, using foresight to anticipate hazards, and taking simple and timely actions with stakeholders can significantly improve project delivery. Although this principle is self-evident, in practice is still only rarely done very well.
7. Just part of managing risk
Stakeholders are important influential resources and should be treated as potential sources of risk and opportunity within the project.
The initial step is to establish the most acceptable baseline across a set of stakeholders' diverging expectations and priorities. Assess the relative importance of all stakeholders to establish a weighted hierarchy against the project requirements and agreed by the project Sponsor.
9. Understand what success is
Project success means different things to different people and you need to establish what your stakeholder community perceives success to be for them in the context of project delivery.
10. Take responsibility
Stakeholder engagement is not the job of one member of the project team. It’s the responsibility of everyone to understand their role and to follow the right approach to communication and engagement. Good project governance requires providing clarity about stakeholder engagement roles and responsibilities and what is expected of people involved in the project.
About the 10 Key Principles
The ’10 Key Principles’ structure is based on the RICS (Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors) Guidance Note “Stakeholder Engagement” 1st edition, which was commissioned jointly with the APM and published in 2014. The SEFG adopted the 10 Principles as a framework. The material has been reproduced here by kind permission of RICS.
About the SEFG
The SEFG (Stakeholder Engagement Focus Group) is part of the APM People SIG. The APM’s stakeholder engagement web pages have been developed by the SEFG and the team voluntarily manages ongoing development and curation of resources and information.
If you would like to know more about the SEFG and would like to get involved, we would like to hear from you. Use the ‘Contact us’ form below, tweet @APMSefg, or visit the APM People SIG community page.