Stakeholder engagement is a key principle of The Advisory Hub’s approach to delivering quality outcomes and is interwoven into the deliverables of every one of our Change Management (Discover, Plan and Transform) phases.
It is crucial that our team and the project teams that we work with, not only understand the needs of its stakeholders but also that those stakeholders have confidence in the team’s ability to deliver successful results. Both outcomes require best practice across all engagement activities.
Rather than conduct our stakeholder engagement in an ad hoc or intuitive way, we approach it strategically by developing a plan, understanding risks and contingencies, and by documenting clear objectives, milestones and evaluation methods. This has allowed us to embed stakeholder engagement into our change management processes at every stage of our delivery.
The stakeholder engagement model that TAH utilises has been derived from our change and project management experiences over multiple client engagements and lends itself to a meaningful stakeholder engagement model. The model is founded on our Discover, Plan, Transform approach as well as on our approach to quality and performance.
Strategic Stakeholder Analysis
Our iterative process of Stakeholder Engagement begins in the Change Discovery phase, by conducting our strategic stakeholder analysis. This involves us identifying and mapping stakeholders into a change network, identifying risks and contingencies, recognising dependencies and prioritising senior stakeholders and subject matter experts. This analysis identifies the following:
- Type of stakeholder
- Level of Impact
- Relationships with other stakeholder groups
- Communication preferences
- Stakeholder relationship owner
Through the detailed stakeholder analysis process, the various stakeholders or stakeholder groups who have vested interests and significant involvement in the success of the project in question are identified, and the appropriate early participants of the change network are engaged. The Kotter model for delivering change relies upon building a guiding coalition with the power and energy to lead and support a collaborative change effort and this approach seeks to deliver the same result.
We will also use the stakeholder analysis to provide guidance on the development of communication material and the tailoring of key messages to reduce resistance and build and sustain commitment to project outcomes.
Stakeholder Engagement Plan
Our Stakeholder engagement plan fits into the broader Change Planning phase, and documents what has been discovered in the analysis phase, before proposing the engagement approach and review/reporting methodologies to be adopted.
Typically our plan provides details on the stakeholder list, various stakeholder groups and associated methods of engagement, lists the actions required to engage stakeholders across every level, provides a schedule of actions and milestones and details the risks and contingencies associated with engaging stakeholders through the life cycle of the project.
As part of the stakeholder engagement plan, developing a Change Network is crucial to securing appropriate sponsorship and the resources necessary to get started and gain momentum. We recommend that the Leadership Team be involved in identifying and recruiting potential candidates for the Change Network.
The benefits of using a formal change network are:
- An increased ability to facilitate the change effort through close relationships with the Project Team, sponsors and end users
- Providing an end user perspective on the change effort to the Project Team
- Ensuring a positive response to project-related key activities (data gathering, data conversion, training and deployment)
- Achieving higher rates of satisfaction and reduces resistance through active employee involvement and proper expectation management
Delivering Stakeholder Engagement
Stakeholder engagement, both formal and informal, forms part of the Transformation phase of our Change Management approach.
Delivering meaningful stakeholder engagement depends on the engagement goal per stakeholder as defined in the engagement plan. Depending on what is required per stakeholder, we typically us some of these engagement methodologies:
Stakeholder engagement goal
|Inform stakeholders of project information in an accurate and consistent manner||Obtain feedback on requirements, business processes and implementation approach||Work directly with these stakeholders through-out the life of the project to ensure that their requirements and concerns are understood and met||Partner with these stakeholders so that alternatives are considered together, decisions are made together and preferred solutions are chosen|
|Methods of engagement||Fact sheets, infographics, intranet pages, newsletter, leadership announcements||Information feedback sessions, Q&A sessions, surveys, online collaboration forums||Workshops, interviews, focus groups, process reviews||Testing, requirements sign-off, process reviews, interviews, workshops,|
Our experience demonstrates that whilst it is important to be guided by the plan, it is also important to be flexible and agile in the engagement approach. As the project is executed, stakeholder buy-in and involvement can increase or decrease and it is up to our change team and broader change network to respond where required.
At all times we will document engagement lessons and ensure that the stakeholder register is kept up to date.
Review and Respond
The final step of our Stakeholder Engagement model involves us reviewing the stakeholder engagement execution in the context of the engagement plan and project objectives, and responding to the findings where required.
The stakeholder engagement review involves analysing the stakeholder engagement register and associated documentation in line with the plan and providing a summary of the execution and results delivered. Insights, proactive and corrective actions are listed and recommendations are made to ensure key stakeholder engagement is maintained where required and sustainable results are delivered.
Through the engagement process, we would have documented a number of learnings. These learnings might indicate a stakeholder group whose influence had been underestimated, or a training need that may have been established. It is crucial that these learnings are communicated and follow up action is taken so that full value is gained from the entire engagement process.
Responding after the review is also an important element of managing the change, as stakeholders often require assurance that their requirements are still considered important and that their change needs are being met. As the solution and change are handed over to the business, stakeholders must be assured that there are processes and resources in place to support them.
Lastly, it is important to remember that this process is iterative and that review, analysis and planning can take place through-out the engagement process to ensure that environmental, project and people changes are considered.
Our stakeholder engagement approach is founded on the following key principles:
- Stakeholder engagement is objectives-driven, and focuses on communicating actions and goals, closing the feedback loop and always doing what we say we’re going to do.
- Integrity and transparency are fundamental to stakeholder engagement at all levels.
- Our approach to all stakeholder engagement is always geared towards a positive outcome for the project and organisation. By communicating and reaffirming the role of the stakeholder to the positive outcomes we are seeking to achieve, we remove any confusion about their role and build buy-in.
- Our communication style begins with listening to our stakeholders. By understanding and then talking, we are able to build real engagement that is based on trust.
- Stakeholder engagement is inclusive and collaborative so that we are working with rather than against project stakeholders.
- Planning and Analysis is key to effective stakeholder engagement.