Why Stakeholder Engagement is Important for Big Projects
For every project, either small or large, there are always going to be stakeholders, public or community members who are impacted by the project. The amount of people affected by a project is inversely related to how big the project will be. Yet, many organizations don’t put enough thought into how to successfully engage with these groups.
Successful projects all have one thing in common; they have all engaged with stakeholders and community groups and managed these relations proactively rather than reactively.
When stakeholder engagement is done effectively, it improves communication channels between parties, creates and maintains support for the project, gathers information for the organization, reduces the potential for conflict or other project crippling issues and enhances the reputation of the organization and ultimately, the project.
Communication is Key
Effective communication with stakeholders not only aims to ensure they are aware of the objectives and finer points of a project, it also serves to help the organization understand those who will be affected by the project, how they will access and interpret information from the organization and allows the organization to anticipate how stakeholders will respond.
Supporting the Big Picture
By effectively engaging with stakeholders, keeping the lines of communication open and having meaningful conversations with them, organizations can manage how stakeholders perceive a project, and help to garner support for it.
Effective stakeholder engagement practices allow for the collection of crucial information about the stakeholders who are affected by a project. Having this information creates an opportunity to shape project plans that benefit stakeholders.
No Conflict, No Problem!
Effective engagement with stakeholders allows organizations to identify groups who may not support the project. Knowing who does and does not support the project allows for an opportunity to better understand the motivations, influences and behaviours of those who are in opposition. With this knowledge, organizations are in a better position to ensure there are no conflicts or issues that could potentially create bad PR for the project.
Once this is known, organizations have an opportunity to take the important steps aimed at winning support for the project. With support from stakeholders, organizations will most likely enjoy a successful and conflict-free project outcome.
Beating a Bad Rap
In terms of stakeholder engagement, organizations that are transparent and are effective communicators with stakeholders are doing engagement with best practice in mind.
By being proactive with stakeholder engagement, organizations are limiting the opportunity for negative press for a big project. Taking in and reviewing the opinions, thoughts, ideas, and comments from the stakeholders, and being open about a project, not only allows the project to run smoothly, it actively enhances the reputation of the organization, and helps to build support of the project.