Sunday, 15 March 2015

Strategy for Communications and Stakeholder Engagement at Project & Programme Levels

At Programme Level –

Various strategies that are required for a successful programme delivery include but not limited to the below -
  • Benefits management strategy
  • Information management strategy
  • Risk management strategy
  • Issue management strategy
  • Monitoring and control strategy
  • Quality and assurance strategy
  • Resource management strategy
  • Stakeholder engagement strategy.
Providing Leadership and a Clear line of sight throughout the programme through the management Stakeholder engagement strategy and governance framework around is THE critical success factor for any transformational change initiative.
The key question a stakeholder engagement strategy answers is: ‘How will the programme effectively engage with the stakeholders?’ The programme management team must specify:
  • How stakeholders will be identified, categorized and grouped
  • How the analysis of a stakeholder’s influence and interest in the programme will be measured and assessed
  • How the importance and impact of a stakeholder to a programme will be assessed
  • Approaches for engaging with stakeholders, including specific mechanisms which could be applied, and roles and responsibilities for the engagement process
  • How stakeholder analysis information will be processed, stored and reviewed
  • How the interfaces between the programme and its projects’ stakeholders will be managed
  • What channels will be used and in what circumstances
  • How feedback and dialogue will be managed
  • How the success of the stakeholder engagement will be measured.
If programme management teams are not physically co-located, this increases the risk of uncoordinated and inconsistent engagement with particular stakeholders. Some stakeholders are likely to exploit any apparent inconsistencies to support their local agendas. Geographically dispersed teams will find that they acquire greater control and influence through employing a rigorous stakeholder engagement strategy.

Contents of a typical Stakeholder Engagement Strategy at a programme level –


(Criteria on how stakeholders will be identified grouped and tracked by the programme; it may be necessary to track specific key individuals and roles as well as groups)
(Explanation of the process for adding to or changing the programme communications plan)
Stakeholder assessment
(How the importance, influence, interest and impact of a stakeholder to a programme will be measured and assessed)
Stakeholder analysis information
(How stakeholder analysis information will be processed and stored, with reference to confidentiality of personal data)
Review cycle
(Review cycle for stakeholder management information)
Interface with projects
(Explanation of how projects and the programme will interface on communications and stakeholder activities, including guidelines on where there is an overlap)
Responsibilities for key communications
(Responsibilities for delivering key messages and other information about the programme)
Handling objections
(Process for identifying and handling objections, including the approach to managing negative publicity)
Stakeholder engagement approach
(Description of how the programme will engage with all stakeholders, including appropriate channels and mechanisms for encouraging, receiving and responding to feedback from stakeholders)
(Any policies on types of terminology and language that will be adopted within the programme)
(Measures to determine the success of stakeholder engagement, including how well the communication process is engaging with stakeholders)
Roles and Responsibilities
(Description of the overall responsibilities for stakeholder engagement within the programme)
Avoiding communications overlap
(Explanations of the process for approving and integrating communications from the projects and business change teams to provide clarity and avoid overlap)

At a Project Level –

A Communication Management Strategy at a project level contains a description of the means and frequency of communication to parties both internal and external to the project. It facilitates engagement with stakeholders through the establishment of a controlled and bi-directional flow of information. The Communication Management Strategy incorporates corporate communications facilities where appropriate (e.g. using the marketing communications department for distributing project information bulletins). For projects that are part of a programme, the lines of communication, and the reporting structure between the project and programme, should be made clear in the Communication Management Strategy. The content in the document can be derived from a number of sources, example, Corporate communications policies (e.g. rules for disclosure for publicly listed companies), The programme’s information management strategy or stakeholder engagement strategy. A Communication Management Strategy can take a number of formats, including but not limited to:-
  • Stand-alone product or a section of the Project Initiation Documentation (PRINCE2®)
  • Document, spreadsheet, a presentation slide (powerpoint) or a mindmap
  • Entry in a project management tool
  • A physically positioned dashboard.
Contents of a typical Communication management Strategy at a project level –

Communication procedure 
A description of (or reference to) any communication methods to be used. Any variance from corporate or programme management standards should be highlighted, together with a justification for the variance
Tools and techniques 
Refers to any communication tools to be used, and any preference for techniques that may be used, for each step in the communication process
Definition of what communication records will be required and where they will be stored (for example, logging of external correspondence)
Describes any reports on the communication process that are to be produced, including their purpose, timing and recipients (for example, performance indicators)

Timing of communication activities 
States when formal communication activities are to be undertaken (for example, at the end of a stage) including performance audits of the communication methods
Roles and responsibilities 
Describes who will be responsible for what aspects of the communication process, including any corporate or programme management roles involved with communication

Stakeholder analysis:
  • Identification of the interested party (which may include accounts staff, user forum, internal audit, corporate or programme quality assurance, competitors etc.)
  • Current relationship
  • Desired relationship
  • Interfaces
  • Key messages
Information needs for each interested party:
  • Information required to be provided from the project
  • Information required to be provided to the project
  • Information provider and recipient
  • Frequency of communication
  • Means of communication
  • Format of the communication.

Author - Vijayakumar Reddy, CTO & Lead Trainer, A2A IMTCS Pvt. LTD.

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