Stakeholders are individuals or groups whose support influences the success and direction of specific projects or entire businesses, according to the website MindTools.com. The large number of potential stakeholders and diversity of interests makes it difficult to identify them and decide which groups are likely to have the greatest influence. The task of finding stakeholders requires a continuous effort from the outset of a project. As a project progresses, developments may attract the interest of different stakeholders.
List potential project stakeholders. Depending on the size and scope of the project, stakeholders could include communities, government agencies and funding organizations, as well as the employees and contractors responsible for delivering the project. Identifying direct stakeholders is straightforward because they make a contribution to project performance in return for a reward, according to the Chartered Quality Institute Employees, for example, provide labor in return for a wage and investors provide funds in return for a dividend. However, finding the indirect stakeholders requires further research.
Focus on finding the wider circle of possible stakeholders. Review reports and press coverage of similar projects. Look for coverage of stakeholder issues and use the information as a basis for your own research. Regulators, for example, can impose legislation that restricts the way a project develops, while the media can influence the attitude of government and communities towards the project.
Hold a public meeting to present plans for a project. Invite stakeholders that you have already identified. Announce the meeting in the press and on the Internet to attract other groups or individuals that may have an interest. Record details of attendees and invite questions from the audience. Monitor the meeting and identify potential stakeholders. Set up a consultation process to continue gathering feedback and find other stakeholders.
Set up a forum on the project website. Encourage contributors to register their details so that you can identify active stakeholders. Analyze the forum content to assess the type and level of interest. Use the analysis to identify groups for further investigation.
Hire a public relations consultancy with experience with stakeholder relations in similar projects. Ask them to provide categories of potential stakeholders as a basis for research. Brief the consultancy to run a series of press releases and articles, including a link to the website forum and an email address to encourage further feedback and capture data on potential stakeholders.
Build a framework of stakeholders that you find. Assess their relative importance and prioritize your stakeholder management program to build relationships with the most important groups. Identify future project events that may attract other stakeholders. Develop a contingency plan to find and manage future stakeholders.
Failing to find and win over stakeholders with influence at an early stage can create problems throughout a project.
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