7) Just part of managing risk: the seventh principle of stakeholder engagement
Stakeholders are important influential resources and as such should be treated as potential sources of risk and opportunity within the project.
Why is it important?
The behavioural patterns of, and decisions made about stakeholders, both as individuals and as a group, can be a risk to projects. Risk management is an important aspect of project management.
Incorporating activities such as stakeholder identification, stakeholder prioritisation and analysis of their world-views into the risk management process can make it easier for project managers to take more informed decisions about how to shape and navigate an often ill-defined environment.
What does it cover?
When you are doing your risk assessment, consider all the stakeholders in your project and use active listening to progress a relationship with them.
Through the process of stakeholder analysis and engagement, establish the risks and opportunities that they may bring across the project lifecycle, and the impact of not putting a suitable strategy and/or plan in place.
Outputs from this ongoing risk assessment should be recorded in the active risk management system (ARMS) and managed in accordance with the project communications plan.
How might I do it?
Conduct formal and informal meetings with both individuals and groups of stakeholders; ensure that you have documented the perspectives of all stakeholders with a view to structuring them as risks or opportunities.
This will make it easier to incorporate them into your Risk Management Plan, PBS (product breakdown structure), WBS (work breakdown structure) and organisational charts.
Use the links below to find particular examples and sources that are relevant to this principle.
- Organisational change and stakeholder management
- Stakeholder engagement in an international research and development project
- Stakeholder communication improvements in a public infrastructure project
- Stakeholder communication within a project team
- Stakeholder communication improvements in a software delivery project
1 McLaughlin, John and Ocock, Michael and Oldfield, Agi and Trebes, Barry. (2015). Global Risk Assessment and Strategic Planning: An introduction and facilitator’s guide to the GRASP Methodology. ICE Publishing
2 Hillson, D. (2016) The Risk Management Handbook-A Practical Guide To Managing The Multiple Dimensions of Risk Kogan Page, London
3 Shuttlefield, J.S, Friday-Stroud, S.S. and Shivers-Blackwell. S.L. (2006) A Case study of project and stakeholder management failures: Lessons Learned. Project Management Journal Vol 37 No 5, pp26-35.
Benefits of applying this principle include:
- Using project management language that your team are more likely to be familiar with to explain a practice that is often misunderstood.
- Aiding in the early identification of potential concerns coming from your stakeholders and development of mitigation options.
- Helping to build rapport within your stakeholder community, making them feel listened to and valued.
Risks of overlooking this principle include:
- Missing information, or overlooking stakeholder concerns or misunderstanding, which could develop into a large project risk.
- Failure to recognise complex stakeholder issues and give sufficient time and resource to stakeholder engagement.
- Stakeholders may develop a lack of confidence in the project team, either as a result of feel that their concerns and opinions have not been addressed or that risks are not being adequately managed.
- Failing to uncover opinions that may not have been addressed.