Manage your whole stakeholder network

Stakeholder management is critical.

Some stakeholders are upstream, in head office, some downstream, at the coalface. External stakeholders such as funders, planners, clients/ customers, suppliers and shareholders will bring a completely different agenda and perspective to bear on the project – and they cannot be avoided. People may not be used to operating in such a wide organisational structure and may tend to assume that external stakeholders will only have a negative influence. In fact, if encouraged to adopt a positive frame of mind about the project, they can be very useful.

Communications with this disparate group will have a huge impact on developing momentum behind the project, so that people believe in it and contribute positively. The time required to generate this momentum is often underestimated. At different times, key individuals will need to take a leadership role within the group and step in to clear up misperceptions before they harden into entrenched positions.

All these relationships need to be mapped out so that expectations can be managed. All those involved need to see that they are part of a wider network and appreciate how they fit into it, so that they can adjust their work pattern to the new framework and the milestones in the process. Everyone should understand that ownership of the project does not lie with the design team or the construction team – the client is the central player and the building must reflect and support the client organisation.