Stakeholder engagement strategy is a collaborative process to identify, define and analyze the people who will be affected or influenced by a project's defined goals. Organizations implement stakeholder engagement strategies as part of their commitment to shared social values in their communities. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) requires stakeholder engagement to build consensus on all standards.
What is stakeholder engagement?
Stakeholder engagement determines who is influenced by a project, and how. It is the process an organization uses to identify key stakeholders and influence the information they receive and the actions they will take from the project. Stakeholders include internal and/or external individuals, community leaders, groups, investors, businesses and other organizations who will be impacted by a service or product, or who could influence how it is perceived.
5 stakeholder engagement best practices:
- Correctly identifying stakeholders
- Define expectations and goals
- Build trust
- Maintain two-way communications
- Be transparent
Why implement a stakeholder engagement strategy?
Community organizations and businesses cannot assume they understand how stakeholders view a service or product prior to undertaking stakeholder engagement. The organization should initiate an assessment to evaluate the stakeholders current views and to ensure proposed services or products meet the needs of the targeted stakeholders.
Stakeholder engagement can be used to assess various aspects of a proposed community service or product including:
- Testing knowledge of the need
- Defining outcomes
- Clarifying service requirements and parameters
- Defining service measures (e.g. Key Performance Indicators)
- Defining costs
- Assessing potential impact of the service or product
- Identifying possible challenges and solutions
- Analyzing limitations of past, current or proposed services
- Opportunities for innovation
- Potential issues and risks
- Competitor identification and analysis
Key Stakeholder Consultation and Engagement Process
- Define key terms
- Develop key stakeholder list, including community members and organizations
- Identify lead staff for planning and executing details of key stakeholder consultation and engagement process
- Create an agenda for key stakeholder engagement meetings
- Design stakeholder assessment tool
- Develop collateral support material
- Integrate feedback opportunities
Stakeholder engagement strategies strengthen Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and community partnerships. Organizations that don't engage with stakeholders risk wasting money and resources on programs that fail due to a lack of community understanding and support. When compared to the benefits and opportunities of implementing a stakeholder engagement strategy, organizations have an opportunity to increase program value and success.