Working with Stakeholders

There are a great number of benefits in involving stakeholders in asset transfer and development projects:

  • Reducing Risk
  • Tapping opportunities for innovation and ideas
  • Sustainability/resilience by increasing the numbers of those involved and building understanding of what a project can achieve

The major pitfall of consultation and involvement processes with stakeholders is that they can be inconclusive, consume a lot of time and can be quite unpleasant and challenging.

The more planning that goes into the process the more likely that this can be avoided and there is a huge amount of guidance available on how to go about it.

There are two things to think about once the stakeholders in a project have been identified and mapped to get started on how to involve them in the project:

The purpose of stakeholder involvement Different kinds of stakeholders will need to be involved in different ways. For example long term involvement of the current owner of the asset may be desirable whereas others may just need to be kept informed of how things are progressing.
Others may need to be consulted about some details or asked about specific aspects of the project.

A useful tool to think about this is the continuum of involvement which can be found here. This describes different types of involvement. Deciding where stakeholders need to be on this continuum can then help identify appropriate methods that could be used to work with and involve them.

Methods of stakeholders involvement – Once the purpose of involvement has been decided it is them possible to think about which how stakeholders can be involved – by being asked questions? By being part of a working group?

Designing a process of stakeholder Involvement - This process will need to consider how development of the project - from the initial setting of project objectives through to its final completion - will take place and how stakeholders may be involved at each stage. Section C of the portal outlines the process of setting objectives and ensuring that they are clear. To involve stakeholders in these discussions is important and will differ from project to project but is likely to include discussions on:

  • Needs that the project will meet - for housing, community facilities, workspace, surplus revenue to support or carry out other activities etc.
  • How the project will meet them – the project objectives - what kind of asset will be developed, who will benefit, who will own it, who will occupy it and how it will be run and maintained.
  • The design and construction of the project – preparation of a brief and the appointment of professional advisors
  • Securing support for the project – identifying other stakeholders who might support the project with the resources or skills needed to make the project happen.
  • Developing, if necessary, a new organisation to make it happen and agreeing its legal structure and governance (who its members are, how it makes decisions)
  • Stakeholders’ role in the project when it is complete.

How this work with stakeholders takes place will depend on the specific circumstances of the project and the resources and skills available. A detailed process usually involves choosing a combination of methods that address the following:

People – stakeholders that have been have identified (the wider public or smaller groupings)
Product – what is to be produced as an outcome of the process? (An agreed design, an agreed process or procedure etc)
Pace – the time available and when things will need to happen.
Price – how much will it cost – time and money
Process – the method that will suit stakeholders and get the desired outcome

There are now a huge number of guides, toolkits and publications (see section G of the portal) which can help to plan a process and implement it for any project but a summary of some of the techniques available can be found here.