Advanced Stakeholder Engagement

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Location:  PMKI > Advanced Tools & Techniques > Advanced Stakeholder Engagement.
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Projects are managed by people, for people and everyone involved is a stakeholder. This subject moves beyond the basics to look at how organisations can build stakeholder engagement into their DNA and create a successful, sustainable outcome.

Topics included in Advanced Stakeholder Engagement:

- Stakeholder Theory and Research
- The Stakeholder Circle® methodology
- The Stakeholder Circle® tools & books
- The Stakeholder Relationship Management Maturity Model (SRMM®)
- Useful External Web-links.

Other related sections of the PMKI:

- PMBOK Stakeholder Engagement: stakeholder engagement from the PMBOK perspective
- Communication Management: communication in a project management context.

Stakeholder Theory and Research

White Papers: 

Stakeholder engagement articles

  • Key Stakeholders - Defining the difference between a 'key stakeholder' and an important stakeholder.
  • Success and Stakeholders - Success is ephemeral, it is gifted to you by your stakeholders, and you have to earn the gift, but there is no way of knowing for sure if it will be granted.
The ESEI Stakeholder Management series

Selected Stakeholder Management
  Papers - view the abstract to download: 
  • 7½ tips for managing internal stakeholders: engaging stakeholders for maximum effect 
    Every action and activity involves stakeholders (but they may be different every time) These tips help you to know who is important for your success and communicate effectively to achieve a successful engagement: information is the basis of communication and comes in various disguisese. [View Abstract]
  • A Typology of Operational Approaches for Stakeholder Analysis and Engagement 
    Findings from this study show that the success of a particular stakeholder management technique depends on internal and external factors, such as the nature of the project, the resources in the organisation, and the communication environment. Each approach has its strengths and limitations, so the best way to define a practical technique for effective stakeholder management is to use combinations of elements from each method as circumstances dictate. [View Abstract]
  • (The) Accidental Project Manager – The Getting of Wisdom 
    The accidental project manager has lived in the folklore of business projects for a generation. This paper will discuss ways to help them increase their chances of achieving project success, including a description of the project management skills and tools needed for success including the Stakeholder Circle™. [View Abstract]

  •  Achieving a Successful Engagement 
    Identifying, mapping and prioritising a project’s stakeholder community is only the beginning.  Projects will only be considered successful when their key stakeholders acknowledge they are a success.  This requires the project team to effectively engage with each of its key stakeholders to understand and manage their expectations and then deliver to project to meet or exceed the ‘managed expectations’. Stakeholder expectations are never ‘fixed’; effective communication can help change perceptions and expectations to make them realistic and achievable. [View Abstract]
  • Advising Upwards – Helping your Managers help you 
    Advising upwards is a difficult skill for project and program managers to acquire. This paper uses modern stakeholder management theory as the basis for approaches designed to help successfully deliver projects within traditional organisations by appreciating the communication needs of senior executives and incorporating mutuality within the key supportive relationships. [View Abstract]

  • Avoiding the Successful Failure 
    Projects can be ‘on time and budget’ and fail! They can also be ‘over’ and succeed. Projects are only successful when their stakeholder’s expectations are delivered. This paper will identify the three elements of ‘stakeholder expectations’: value, relationships and risk. Then describe tools to manage these elements for success. [View Abstract]

  • Beyond Reporting - The Communication Strategy 
    Communication is a science and an art. Communicating effectively with the project’s important stakeholders, so that their expectations can be both managed and met, is central to achieving a successful outcome. Reports are not enough! Communication is a complex two way process within the overall relationship between the project and the stakeholder. This paper identifies the key processes involved in developing and implementing an effective communication strategy. [View Abstract]

  • Communications Control? - Author: Lynda Bourne.
    Information supports the decision makers, informs people and organisations of the work required to be done, monitors progress, and provides support and assurance at all levels of the organisation of progress or of the need for intervention. This paper explores how communication in the form of information exchange controls and assists the work of organisations to deliver value to all stakeholders. [View Abstract]
  • Designing a PMO to Succeed and Survive 
    To survive, a PMO requires executive sponsorship, management buy-in and a clear mandate (authority and autonomy).To be successful, the PMO should contribute to the strategic alignment of projects and programs, benefits realisation, leadership in implementation of best practices, continuous improvement, and being an information highway, facilitating open and targeted communications. Achieving this requires a clear understanding of the PMO's stakeholders and the organisation's objectives.  [View Abstract]

  • Developing Stakeholder Management Maturity in a traditional business: an International Case Study 
    This paper reports on the work undertaken by a traditional multinational transport company to introduce effective stakeholder management into its terminal operations around the world as a factor that could deliver significant commercial advantage in the operation of the business. The case study describes the project to introduce and support a significant culture change in a major organisation and reports on the successful adaptation of a project management methodology, the Stakeholder Circle®, to general business use.  [View Abstract]

  • From Commander to Sponsor: Managing Upwards in the Project Environment 
    This paper provides a foundation for exploration of the tasks needed to turn a senior manager 'Commander' into a supportive Sponsor and how to use the resources available in the form of influence networks, targeted communication and plain persistence. Case studies based on experiences of the authors, in large organisations, in managing the expectations and the support of key senior stakeholders are used to ground the paper. [View Abstract]

  • (The) future of the PM Hero 
    The PM’s role is changing from a hero focused on the ‘iron triangle’ to a business leader. Project success is no longer being measured simply in terms of time and cost, but by value created and stakeholder satisfaction. This paper outlines the skills needed to succeed in this emerging environment. [View Abstract]

  • Influence, Stakeholder Mapping and Visualisation 
    Stakeholder identification, management and engagement are recognised as key project management skills that requires both intuition and a strong capacity for analysis. Visualisation tools for stakeholder management can be of great value.  The development and use of two such tools are described. While they are both independently useful they could be effectively combined. [View Abstract]

  • (The) Knowledge Management / Relationship Cycle 
    The Knowledge Management Relationship Cycle describes reciprocity between the data, information and knowledge that is exchanged for the business benefit of the organisation between the project and its stakeholders. It charts the strong connections between the organisation’s KM and the actions of the project Stakeholders in contributing to project success. [View Abstract]

  • Mega Projects, Mega Problems - The critical need for effective stakeholder management 
    Effective stakeholder management is mandatory for mega-project success in all advanced economies and in most emerging economies. Effective stakeholder management encompasses the project team, the project supply chain and external to the project politicians, ‘the public’ and the media as well as people directly or indirectly impacted by the work or its outcomes. Tools developed to assist in this process will be discussed within the framework of managing mega construction projects to optimise the stakeholder relationships in and around the project and minimise risk exposures.  [View Abstract]

  • Motivate your Manager! 
    This presentation focuses on a range of communication tools and methodologies project and program managers can deploy to motivate their managers to help them succeed. In most cases, a successful outcome is directly beneficial to the manager; the challenge is making the right connections..  [View Abstract]
  • Practice Note: Advancing theory and practice for successful implementation of Stakeholder Management in organisations 
    This paper firstly, describes the evolution of the 
    Stakeholder Circle® from a research tool into a commercial project management tool and then into a maturity model (SRMM®) that describes the ‘readiness’ of an organisation to successfully implement a stakeholder management culture and practice. [View Abstract]

  • Project Relationship Management and the Stakeholder Circle 
    A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Project Management (DPM). Dr Lynda Bourne investigated the concept that a project’s success or failure is closely aligned with perceptions of the project held by its key stakeholders; and that project teams can manage these perceptions to create success. The research resulted in a new tool, the ‘Stakeholder Circle™’ that maps each stakeholder community in a unique way, allowing the project team to effectively focus its stakeholder engagement strategies. [View Abstract]

  • Seeing who's there - A Brief History of Stakeholder Mapping & Visualisation
    This paper focuses on describing the evolution of the concept of stakeholders from the 1970s through to the present day and the closely allied visualisation tools used at different times to see ‘who they are’. From this basis a current definition of stakeholders is determined and the merits of a range of current stakeholder management tools briefly described. The paper demonstrates that understanding ‘who’s there’ and more importantly ‘who matters’ is highly dependent on the tools and definitions used. [View Abstract]

  • Stakeholder Engagement is ‘free’! The Zero Cost of Stakeholder Relationship Management 
    The concept discussed in this paper is based on the philosophy of the Quality movement that quality is free – investment in stakeholders is balanced by reduction in ‘failure dollars’ of fixing the issues caused by poor stakeholder relationship management. The PMO is ideally placed to champion and facilitate this approach and provide not only support services to achieve this, but also assist in measuring ‘failure dollars’ through its reporting mechanisms. [View Abstract]
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Practical Insights for Advanced PMOs 
    Some practical insights into the actions that advanced PMOs must take to develop that reputation of credibility and competency through managing the relationship with senior stakeholders: influencing decisions, managing resistance to change, and providing a central support structure for stakeholder engagement practices within the organisation. [View Abstract]

  • SRMM:  The five stages of Stakeholder Relationship Management Maturity
    Engaging effectively and ethically with key stakeholders to help create a successful project outcome requires significant levels of skill and maturity. This paper will define the five levels of SRMM and suggest a route most organisations can follow to progress from ‘Level 1’ to ‘Level 5’.  The 5 levels of SRMM are: 
    Ad hoc, Procedural, Relational, Integrated and Predictive. [View Abstract]

  • (The) Stakeholder Chameleon – Ignore at your Peril! 
    This paper presents the results from two case studies that show the strategies needed to engage project stakeholder support are different for every project, even when the stakeholders are the same people. [View Abstract]

  • (The) Stakeholder Circle - Tool Description - Authors: Lynda Bourne and Patrick Weaver.
    The Stakeholder Circle™ offers a mechanism for assessing the relative importance of each of the key stakeholders in a project. Stakeholders are weighted according to the three characteristics and the assessments are melded into a single diagram. [View Abstract]

  • Stakeholder Relationship Management in the Supply Chain 
    Effective procurement leadership requires the skills and knowledge to engage effectively with a wide range of stakeholders. This paper outlines the critical role stakeholders play in the operation of an effective supply chain and suggests a range of techniques supply chain professionals can apply to enhance their organisation’s stakeholder relationship management capabilities. [View Abstract]

  • Supersizing PMO Performance - Author: Lynda Bourne.
    The value of a PMO to its host organisation is directly linked to its ability to communicate effectively with both senior management and project teams, in appropriate language, to facilitate access to the information it needs and to have its reports and messages understood and acted upon. By understanding its stakeholders and customising its communication strategy to meet their different requirements, the PMO becomes a significantly more valuable resource. [View Abstract]

  • Trust: a tale of two constructions 
    Building and maintaining effective relationships is not easy. It requires both parties to recognise that there will be differing expectations and definitions of success and requires work to develop the necessary trust through understanding the expectations of important stakeholders. Wembley Stadium illustrates how a lack of trust and ‘hard dollar’ contracts impacted relationships between the delivery partners; whereas Heathrow Terminal 5 proves the benefits derived from working to develop trust are well worth the effort. [View Abstract]

  • Visualising and Mapping Stakeholder Influence - Authors: Lynda Bourne and Derek H.T. Walker.
    This paper describes research that was conducted during 2004/2005 centred around the Stakeholder Circle™ tool, as a means to provide a useful and effective way to visualise stakeholder power and influence that may have pivotal impact on a project’s success or failure. [ View Abstract ]

  • Visualising Stakeholder Influence - Two Australian Examples - Authors: Lynda Bourne and Derek H.T. Walker.
    This paper illustrates the use of the Stakeholder Circle™ as a tool for measuring and visualising stakeholder influence drawing upon two case study examples. The paper is exploratory in nature and the case studies used provide a useful vehicle for reflection and sense making. The tool was found by the case study respondents to be useful and that it also complements and enhances risk management. [ View Abstract ]

  • Why is stakeholder management so difficult? 
    The focus of this paper is the construction and operation of Heathrow Terminal 5 for British Airways. Through tracing its development from a successful construction project to its disastrous opening in 2008 a methodology to assist organisations in effective engagement of a project’s important stakeholders is described and lessons that will benefit all projects are identified. [View Abstract] 

  • - Paper: Achieving a Successful Engagement (Stakeholders)
    - Paper: Avoiding the Successful Failure! (Stakeholders)
    - Paper: Advancing theory and practice for successful implementation of Stakeholder Management in organisations  

The Stakeholder Circle® methodology

Stakeholder Circle

The Stakeholder Circle® is based on the premise that a project can only exist with the informed consent of its stakeholder community. This community comprises individuals and groups, each with a different potential to influence the project’s outcome. The Stakeholder Circle® has been devised to offer a mechanism for assessing the relative influence of each of the key stakeholders and planning ways to engage with and manage their expectations/contributions. The benefit of using this methodology is derived in part from the analysis process itself as well as from the ease with which the influence of key stakeholder’s on the project can be judged once the ‘Stakeholder Circle’ is complete.

The tools facilitates the regular updating of this assessment as the stakeholder community changes to reflect the dynamic nature of the project and its relationships. Changes and trends are tracked over time to help the team identify which engagement strategies are working and which need reviewing.

To develop the 'circle', Stakeholders are weighted according to the three characteristics.

Power: Some stakeholders (either alone or operating as a group) can kill the project using their own power, other stakeholders have the power to change or damage the project but cannot on their own cause it to be cancelled or fail – this is the power axis in the stakeholder circle.

Proximity: This aspect considers how closely a stakeholder is associated with the day-to-day running of the project. The centre of the diagram represents the project. The space between the two circles represents the sphere of influence of the project on its whole stakeholder community. The proximity of a stakeholder to the project is represented by how close their segment is to the project in the centre.

Urgency / Importance: The width of the arc represents the amount of urgency or importance attributed to a stakeholder from the teams perspective (ie, how likely the stakeholder is to use its power), the wider the segment, the greater the urgency.

The Stakeholder Circle® tools & books

Stakeholder Work Sheet: SWS - Excel Template

Stakeholder Worksheet

Note: The SWS spreadsheet uses embedded macros and is designed for use by one business unit, project or program. You will need to enable the macros to use the tool.

The SWS is a sophisticated spreadsheet based on the Stakeholder Circle methodology, designed to manage all of the key aspects of stakeholder engagement for a single project or business unit, including: - Identifying the stakeholders, defining their role and understanding both your requirements and their expectations (mutuality).
- Assessing the priority of each stakeholder based on their power, proximity and urgency.
- Determining an engagement strategy for each of the key stakeholders to optimise their attitude towards
   the project
- Reviewing and updating the situation at regular intervals during the life of the project.

Stakeholder Circle

Download a free sample: Download the sample Spreadsheet

Stakeholder on a Page: SoaP - Template

Stakeholder On-A-Page

SoaP is an easy to use template designed to implement the Stakeholder Circle methodology:
- Identifying the stakeholders, defining their role and understanding both your
   requirements and their expectations (mutuality).
- Assessing the priority of each stakeholder based on their power, proximity
   and urgency.
- Determining an engagement strategy for each of the key stakeholders to
   optimise their attitude towards the project
- Reviewing and updating the situation at regular intervals (three updates).
- Tracking issues (on the reverse side of the sheet)

Stakeholder Circle

Download a free sample: Download the sample Template

Communication Plan: CommWS - Excel Template

Comms Plan

A practical template for planning and monitoring the routine reporting and communication requirements of a project or program. For each report you define: - The report name, start date (first report sent) and frequency (from daily to monthly) - The planned recipients of each report

The system monitors when the reports are due to be sent and if they have been sent and received.

This is a very robust, easy to use tool that ensures that all essential reports and routine communications are effectively managed.

Comms Plan

Download a free sample: Download Sample Spreadsheet

Stakeholder management books.

Books authored by Dr. Lynda Bourne. Click through to the relevant book page:

Making Projects WorkMaking Projects Work: Effective Stakeholder and Communication Management. Dr. Lynda Bourne: Projects are performed by people for people, with the key determinants of success being the relationships between project teams and project stakeholders. This web of relationships will either enable or obstruct the flow of information between people and, as a consequence, will largely determine project success or failure. See more.

Advising UpwardsAdvising Upwards: A Framework for Understanding and Engaging Senior Management Stakeholders. Dr. Lynda Bourne: Building, and managing, relationships with senior (upwards) stakeholders is essential for success. This requires the activity manager to be skillful at building and maintaining robust relationships, focused on engaging the support of senior executives, understanding their expectations and managing them through targeted communication. See more.

Stakeholder CircleStakeholder Relationship Management A Maturity Model for Organisational Implementation. Dr. Lynda Bourne: This book provides the 'road map' needed to help organizations achieve effective stakeholder engagement in two ways. Firstly, it is a ‘how-to’ book, secondly, it is a guidebook for assessing the current maturity of an organization. See more.

The Stakeholder Relationship Management Maturity Model (SRMM®)

The central role of stakeholders in the successful delivery of projects is becoming increasingly recognised. However, whilst critical to success, these roles are neither passive nor predetermined. The organisation has significant opportunities to influence stakeholder’s perceptions and expectations for the benefit of both the stakeholders and the project; but only when there are effective relationships in place with each key stakeholder.

Identifying, mapping and prioritising a project’s stakeholder community is only the beginning.  Projects and other initiatives can only be considered successful when their key stakeholders acknowledge they are a success.  This requires the delivery team to effectively engage with each of its key stakeholders to understand and manage their expectations and then deliver the outcome to meet or exceed these ‘managed expectations’. Expectations are never ‘fixed’; effective communication can help change perceptions and expectations to make them realistic and achievable. Conversely, ineffective communications can create the perception of failure in the mind of a stakeholder even when the deliverable is ‘on time, on budget and delivering the specified scope’.

Engaging effectively and ethically with key stakeholders to help create a successful project outcome requires significant levels of skill and maturity. SRMM defines five levels of  maturity and suggests a route most organisations can follow to progress from ‘Level 1’ to ‘Level 5’.  The 5 levels of SRMM are:

  1. Ad hoc:  some use of processes
  2. Procedural:  focus on processes and tools
  3. Relational:  focus on the Stakeholders and mutual benefits
  4. Integrated:  methodology is repeatable and integrated across all programs and projects
  5. Predictive:  used for health checks and predictive risk assessment and management.

For more on the five levels see:  SRMM Implementation Guide

SRMM is based on the Stakeholder Circle® methodology, but any effective stakeholder management process can be used to develop 'stakeholder management maturity'.

Download the Published Paper:

SRMM: The five stages of Stakeholder Relationship Management Maturity

Useful External Web-links

Self-paced EVM Training

Risk management template

Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Stakeholder management tools

Self-paced EVM Training

Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Risk management template

Self-paced EVM Training

Communication management template

Self-paced PMI-SP Training

Self-paced EVM Training