11 Free Stakeholder Engagement Planning Templates

A Stakeholder Engagement Plan enables communication with stakeholders to get support for your project. The plan outlines the location and form of communication, contact person, and communication frequency. Companies create the plan before the project starts and update it over time as stakeholders’ needs change. All projects have stakeholders, but their involvement depends on the industry and project type. For instance, a software development project may have a few stakeholders, while a vast construction project may have many stakeholders.

Project managers may not need to write a stakeholder engagement template for small projects. However, stakeholder engagement is critical to the success of massive projects with many stakeholders. The many stakeholders will have varying ideas and needs. Moreover, each will have unique powers and interests in the projects, necessitating specialized consultation. Regardless of the project size, it is essential to maintain a good relationship with the stakeholders for proper project management.

Stakeholder engagement planning builds a solid foundation for gaining stakeholders’ support for your project. You must tailor the plan to your project’s size and other management plans. Once you have developed stakeholder engagement plans, you present them to the project management team and parent company for approval. Then, project managers implement and update the plans according to each stakeholder’s status.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) recommends developing Stakeholder Engagement Plans. According to the sixth edition of PMBOK, stakeholder engagement planning is a crucial element that develops strategies to ensure stakeholders take part in making project decisions and execution processes. A Stakeholder Engagement Plan can be formal, informal, highly detailed, or with fewer details depending on the stakeholder’s expectations and the project’s needs.

Stakeholder Engagement Plan Templates (Google Sheets, Docs, PDF, Excel)

Google Docs – Free Stakeholder Engagement Plan

  1. Project Stakeholder Engagement Plan Example
  2. Materials Funding Stakeholder Engagement Plan

Google Sheets Free Stakeholder Engagement Plan

  1. Project Stakeholder Engagement Plan
  2. Basic Stakeholder Engagement Plan

Free Stakeholder Engagement Plan Template Excel

Free Stakeholder Engagement Plan PDF

Parts of a Stakeholder Engagement Plan

A good engagement plan should have the following components:

  • Stakeholder list. Your stakeholder engagement plan should list all the stakeholders. PMBOK calls the list Stakeholder Register. It would be best to be thorough when creating the list since underestimating a minor stakeholder and failing to communicate with them may cause the project’s downfall.
  • Project phase. The section identifies the stakeholders for each project phase.
  • Contact name. You need to ensure you contact the right people. Some stakeholders, huge companies or the government, may have many lawyers, making it hard to communicate with them. Consequently, it may lead to project delays.
  • Influence area. This section defines the stakeholder’s stake. It highlights how the stakeholders’ interests overlap with the project, their goals, and why they are interested. Stakeholder engagement can only be meaningful if there is a mutual understanding.
  • Power. All the stakeholders have the power to stop or change the project. You can remove stakeholders’ power, but you will pay for it. You may incur monetary costs, or the stakeholder may be unhappy and influence other stakeholders to withdraw from the project.
  • Engagement approach. The plan must also include strategies for engaging each stakeholder. It should highlight the frequency and forms of communication, such as daily, weekly, or monthly emails, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. It should also highlight the content of the communication, like design information and project progress.

Principles of Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement and management are essential for the delivery of successful projects. The project management team relies on people’s feedback on the outputs and benefits they offer. Remember that people can only respond if involved in the project. Below are some stakeholder engagement principles you should follow to achieve your goals.

  • Identify all stakeholders through different methods, including an assessment matrix, influence diagram, salience model, or stakeholder cube. Stakeholders are individuals with a positive or negative interest in what you are trying to accomplish. Depending on your project’s size, you may have a few or many stakeholders.
  • Find stakeholders who are powerful enough to drive or stop your goal. Doing this will help you narrow down the stakeholders contributing to your project. Identifying individuals or groups with the most significant interest in your outcome is also important, even if they lack power. These stakeholders may work harder to ensure the successful completion of the task.
  • You should push for your goals in the minds of positive stakeholders and minimize telling negative stakeholders to achieve maximum engagement.
  • Active engagement. It is essential to proactively engage your stakeholders from the initial evaluation stages to the end. You need to consider what each stakeholder finds a significant issue and allow them to contribute meaningfully to the project.

Stakeholder Engagement Assessment Matrix

Managing stakeholders’ engagement is one of the most challenging tasks for a project manager. Different techniques exist to improve your stakeholder management process, such as a stakeholder engagement matrix.

The stakeholder engagement assessment matrix is a powerful project management model project managers use to monitor stakeholder engagement levels. The technique also identifies potential gaps in the levels of engagement and forms discussions about each stakeholder’s desired level of involvement. The stakeholder engagement matrix was introduced as part of several processes in the PMBOK, including:

  • Communications management planning
  • Communications monitoring
  • Stakeholder engagement planning
  • Stakeholder involvement monitoring

The stakeholder matrix documents the desired involvement of every stakeholder in the planning processes. In the monitoring processes, the matrix compares the degree of stakeholder involvement to the level desired by project managers. As a result, it helps you to identify gaps and know how to handle them.

Benefits of a Stakeholders Engagement Assessment Matrix?

Identifying how stakeholders feel about the project will help you in many ways:

Increase Project Support

The matrix helps you identify stakeholders who broadly support the project and ensures you communicate in such a manner to gain their continued support. You can ensure these stakeholders have current information about the project. If the stakeholders are influential and trusted, you can encourage them to share the information.

Build awareness and engagement

People who are disinterested in change can negatively impact your project’s success. You need to identify stakeholders who seem unaware of the project and develop an effective communication plan to increase their awareness and involvement. Keeping people in the loop and getting feedback will make them active participants.

Why use the Engagement Assessment Matrix?

stakeholder engagement assessment matrix has many rows representing individual or homogenous stakeholder groups. The columns show the degree of involvement of the stakeholders. Stakeholders can be classified in various ways:

  • Unaware. It is the first level where stakeholders do not know about the project and how it may impact them.
  • Resistant. In this category, stakeholders are aware of the project but resist change.
  • Neutral. Neutral stakeholders know about the project but do not support or resist it.
  • Supportive. At this level, stakeholders know about the project and its outcome and fully support it.
  • Leading. Leading stakeholders know about the project and how it will impact them and are proactive in ensuring the successful delivery of the project. They are typically referred to as change champions.

According to the PMI’s taxonomy, the letter C documents the current degree of engagement while the desired level is labeled as D. A C can appear in any of the five columns. In contrast, a D does not apply to resistant and unaware columns since you will not want to have incompetent stakeholders in your project.

Developing a Stakeholder Engagement Plan

You should consider the steps below when developing a stakeholder engagement plan:

  • Classify stakeholders. It is the first step to developing an engagement plan for stakeholders. In this step, you classify the stakeholders to help you plan the next steps effectively. You can categorize stakeholders as supporting or opposing. Stakeholders can also be grouped as upwards, downwards, sideways, or outwards. For instance, upwards are stakeholders from the parent company, while sideways consists of project contractors and suppliers. Outwards can be used to categorize competing projects, and downwards are the project management team and suppliers.
  • Develop the power grid. A power grid is a tool for analyzing stakeholders. The tool defines stakeholders’ power on the y-axis. Power refers to the stakeholder’s influence to change the project. On the other hand, the x-axis contains the stakeholder’s degree of interest. The level of interest defines how the stakeholders’ interests overlap with the project. In other words, it is the stakeholders’ stake in the project.
  • Define power. The location of the stakeholder on the graph is important, but you should conduct a verbal analysis of the stakeholder’s power to determine the stakeholder’s genuine interest in the project. Determining stakeholders’ power will help you determine their level of influence. If the stakeholders significantly impact the project, you must update them on the process.
  • Outline interest. It is essential to define stakeholders’ interest in the project. You can do this by expanding and analyzing the location of stakeholders on the chart. You need to prioritize the business interests of the stakeholders and fully describe their needs and wants so that the project management team gains an in-depth understanding and strategizes how to engage them.
  • Create a stakeholder engagement plan. Conducting a power and influence analysis will help you develop the best stakeholder engagement plan. The information will help you itemize stakeholders’ communication needs, determine suitable communication forms for each stakeholder, and choose the communication frequency.

How to Improve Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement plans are essential to projects that require them. Constantly improving the stakeholder consultation process will drive more success than sticking to a rigid plan. There are many ways you can enhance stakeholder involvement in your projects. These include the following.

1. Demonstrate Care and Concern for Stakeholders

When you show you care, stakeholders will understand that you want to win them on your side and will assume you have an effective plan to do that. Organizations with a more aggressive and poor attitude toward strong-arm stakeholders to approve their projects get adverse outcomes. An empathetic-free attitude will make stakeholders develop opposition to your change. Despite your ability to stop their ideas and concerns, the stakeholders may spread negative words about your organization, which will significantly cost you money and time to neutralize the bad word of mouth. It would be best if you exercised empathy when opposing stakeholders’ suggestions to prevent you from damaging your reputation

2. Emphasize the Human Aspect

Organizations that wish to increase their profit margins often take up projects in the private sector. Government and non-governmental organizations also set goals that align with the conflicting interests of stakeholders. However, not all stakeholders are all about money; some aim to promote the social benefits of the project, for example, employment benefits and income generation. Therefore, when presenting your project idea to stakeholders or consulting them, you should emphasize societal benefits rather than focusing on profits only. There are project structures that are highly profit-driven at the expense of others, so you should evaluate your plan and make the necessary changes.

3. Ensure Stakeholders have a Voice

Most people want and love to be heard. When you allow stakeholders to voice their ideas and concerns, it can bring a lot of transformation. Most stakeholders know you may let them share their ideas but ignore them. So, they will be aligned with your goals when they know you have genuinely listened to them and implemented their ideas.

Project managers have several responsibilities, including initiating, planning, controlling, executing, and monitoring projects focusing on achieving specific organizational goals. They also need to ensure stakeholder engagement. However, this role is often overlooked, especially by new project managers, since they do not know the stakeholders’ power in the project’s failure or success. You need to familiarize yourself with stakeholder engagement tools and skills to increase the chances of project success.

Stakeholder Engagement FAQs

What are stakeholder engagement examples?

An example of stakeholder engagement is when a council constructs a memorial to honor veterans in the local war. The council will need to consult with the families of the veterans about the project, consult a local sculptor on the best design, and involve the media in promoting the project’s launch.

What are stakeholder engagement strategies?

Companies make decisions that affect the interests of stakeholders. However, remember stakeholder groups are unequal; some may need daily updates on project developments, while others will need minimal contact. A stakeholder engagement strategy helps you plan the frequency of communication with various stakeholders and select the ideal communication tools.

What are the five steps to stakeholder engagement?

  1. Engagement strategy. Here, you review past levels of engagement and set the vision for future stakeholder engagements.
  2. Stakeholder mapping. In this stage, you define the criteria to select and prioritize stakeholders. In addition, you choose the best involvement mechanisms.
  3. Preparation. The preparation stage helps you to focus on your long-term objectives and budget for engagement.
  4. Engagement. Conduct the engagement while ensuring equitable contributions from each stakeholder and mitigating any tension.
  5. Action. The action plan lets you identify opportunities based on stakeholders’ feedback and revisit your goals. From the feedback, you can plan your future involvement steps.

What is stakeholder engagement, and why is it important?

Stakeholder engagement enables companies to collaborate with or inform their stakeholders about the ongoing project. The process involves identifying, mapping, and prioritizing stakeholders to know the best methods for effective communication using the available tools.

Stakeholder engagement is critical in helping organizations consider the needs and opinions of individuals with a stake in their form. Consequently, it enhances trust and connections and builds confidence in your organization. When you conduct stakeholder engagement appropriately, it will prevent conflicts among different stakeholder groups. It will also eliminate uncertainties, stakeholder disengagement, dissatisfaction, and resistance to the project.

What is the difference between smoothing and compromising?

Smoothing and compromising are conflict resolution techniques applied in different situations. Smoothing emphasizes the areas of agreement to both parties and downplays areas of disagreement to resolve the matter.

Project managers use this technique when they need a temporary resolution. In contrast, compromising involves both parties giving up something to find areas of agreement that partly satisfy each party. Managers use the method when there is a need to reach a mutual and acceptable solution for both parties

Shane Drumm

Shane Drumm

Shane Drumm, holding certifications in PMP®, PMI-ACP®, CSM, and LPM, is the author behind numerous articles featured here. Hailing from County Cork, Ireland, his expertise lies in implementing Agile methodologies with geographically dispersed teams for software development projects. In his leisure, he dedicates time to web development and Ironman triathlon training. Find out more about Shane on shanedrumm.com and please reach out and connect with Shane on LinkedIn.

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