MePSS Webtool - Tool (Level 4)

Worksheet W04 - Stakeholder Involvement Planning
Table of Contents
1. Objective
2. Putting into Practice
3. Implementation
4. Software, templates and other support
5. Call on Resources
6. Literature, examples and background information

Objective Table of Contents

The objective is to initiate the involvement of stakeholders and help make the interaction with the stakeholders a success. More specifically, applying this tool allows a more direct allocation of resources in terms of costs and time to be spent with the different actors.

The following goals should be achieved during the process of resourcing the engagement:

  1. Identify a lead for communication. To have an effective communication process it is important to identify one key point of contact for the stakeholders.
  2. Establish a communication team with a few staff members who will primarily be responsible for the communication process. This should be a heterogeneous group so that multiple perspectives can be represented in discussions.
  3. Develop a communication plan. Make sure that your communication plan builds on corporate communications. Communication should be clear, honest and consistent. The plan should contain answers to the following questions: who will we be communicating with, when, how, how regular, how will this be incorporated in the PSS development process.
  4. Identify a senior management champion. The tone at the top is a very important issue. Make sure that there is a sponsorship at senior management level.
  5. Implement the communications plan and adapt as needed.

Putting into Practice Table of Contents

2.1 When and why should this tool be used?

One should be aware that stakeholder engagement process is time consuming. It is therefore important to have a dedicated team (or assigning this role to the project mates) who will be responsible for the communication with stakeholders.

Once the relevant stakeholders to be involved in the project (worksheet 3) have been identified and the management has agreed about it, it is important to plan this involvement in order to have an efficient allocation of resources.

2.2 Who should use this tool?

The PSS Champion should coordinate the implementation of the tool. He can involve people from different horizons (assessment and design in particular). Of course, the key people in this tool are the stakeholders themselves and other interest groups.

Implementation Table of Contents

3.1 How should this tool be used?

There is no universal solution on how to engage stakeholders and include their issues into the organisation’s view. The following questions should to be taken into consideration when the objectives for the stakeholder engagement are set:

Is the information you provide the stakeholders with relevant to them?

Stakeholders can greatly influence your way of operating your business. Their scrutiny can place you in a difficult position, but when engaged positively, they can also be extremely valuable. Being more transparent and open to your stakeholders raises expectation and can increase their attention to you. Therefore it is important that the information you provide is relevant for your stakeholders, so that it will help them to make informed decisions.

What feedback are you looking for and what feedback do your stakeholders want to give you?

Determine in advance what information you are trying to gain from the stakeholder involvement. Be prepared to honestly consider their issues and concerns in your planning and decision making, because this involvement is not a public relations exercise and you need to be committed to consider and incorporate their feedback. This does not mean you will have to accept all stakeholder decisions, but that stakeholders need to know that their suggestions were thoughtfully heard and considered.

Did you set a realistic timeline?

Do you have a clear understanding of the objectives?

Did you establish a Communications team?

The communications team, with the PSS working group, should coordinate and lead the meetings both internally and externally. The responsibilities of the team are primarily to participate in the development and the implementation of the communication plan and share information with the staff inside the company.

Did you inform staff?

Staff is not only a corporate asset, but also a part of the community your company operates in and it is essential to inform them about the changes at hand. This way, they can act as ambassadors for the company and answer questions that may arise in the community. It will also give staff the feeling of being valued and included when they are informed about their role in the stakeholder involvement process.

Did you map your stakeholders’ concerns?

Once you have mapped the concerns that your various stakeholders may have, you can involve them in the right phase of the process. Some stakeholders (e.g. government) can have a significant influence on the design of your operations (e.g. by subsidising efforts to implement a PPS). Other stakeholders might be influenced by the change in your product – service offering (e.g. customers) and they will need to be consulted about the impact of the company’s changes in their purchasing plans. The selection of the methods that will be used is heavily dependent on the needs and wants of you and your stakeholders. In the past, companies have jumped to this phase before adequately addressing who they were trying to engage and what the purpose of the engagement was. If the purpose is to inform staff of a new computer system, a letter to their personal letterboxes might be the perfect method. One has to be careful though to not underestimate the questions that can arise from a ‘simple’ message.

Too much focus on quick fix solutions rather than programmes of sustainable benefit can quickly make people loose faith in the intentions of the company to truly engage their stakeholders. Companies have been criticised for putting huge efforts to achieve agreements for environmental or native title sign-offs and then being too busy to continue nurturing the community relationships once the deal is done. Equally, some companies have been happy to agree to short-term advantages, which may not benefit the broader community in the longer term.

Some engagement methods one could think of are:

  1. Community training
  2. Community empowerment
  3. Ensuring the welfare of the workers and communities
  4. Improving decisions through open – decision making processes
  5. Meeting stakeholders concerns

Be prepared to pay for your external independent facilitators. Because of the potential sensitivities that arise from the stakeholder involvement, an independent facilitator might take away the pressure that these sensitivities place on the company. The process will then be managed independently.

Do’s & Don’ts

Ten Critical Success Factors for the Private Sector , which are important to keep in mind.

1. Adopt a policy on social issues and develop capacity

2. Identify stakeholders and acknowledge the legitimacy of their perspectives

3. Identify social risks and opportunities

4. Assess social and environmental impacts thoroughly: integrate where appropriate

5. Recognise public involvement as integral to project sustainability

6. Delineate responsibilities for social provisions

7. Aim for social equity in revenue distribution, compensation and other investments

8. Develop partnerships in support of sustainable development

9. Develop mechanisms for long-term representation of stakeholders and conflict resolution

10. Evaluate the effectiveness of social investments



Take stakeholder concerns seriously

Be defensive

Deliver consistent messages

Use language the stakeholders are not familiar with

Engage your stakeholders genuinely

Be driven by your own preferences of tools of methods

Involve your staff through the communications team

Table : Stakeholder involvement rules

3.2 Result

The stakeholder involvement plan and first agreements of participation in the PSS development procedure. Furthermore an important output will be a detailed list of issues that are of high priority for the stakeholders.

3.3 Input needed/ data required/ data acquisition process

Main Inputs for this phase are the results of the Identification and Mapping of Stakeholders (Worksheet 3): the identification and prioritisation of the stakeholders.

Software, templates and other support Table of Contents

4.1 Software

This tool does not require any software.

4.2 Templates and other support

Call on Resources Table of Contents

5.1 Personnel and time needed

It is difficult to assess the time needed to implement this tool, as it is a checklist of how to ensure a good communication with stakeholders and not an analytical tool.

Literature, examples and background information Table of Contents

6.1 Methodological References

Solomon (1999)

Harding et al, (2001)

MEPSS Success and Failure Factors Methodology and Tool Testing (15 January 2004, Robert Wimmer, Wilma Aarts, Gerd Scholl et al) and inspired from Gutman’s means end chain model (1982).