What Is a Stakeholder Plan?

First and foremost, what is a stakeholder? By definition, this refers to the people or entities that have an interest in a particular company. They can be internal or external to the company that they hold a stake in, and these entities can be affected by how the company operates or can influence their decision-making process. Stakeholders can include not just a company’s directors and trustees, but also anybody who invested in the figurative share and anyone who might get paid out of it. This essentially means that stakeholders can include the company’s vendors, workers, and customers, as well as residents of the community where its offices or factory may have an impact on the local economy or environment.

In order for the company to properly engage with its stakeholders, they need to be able to understand their wants, needs, and their attitude regarding the company’s projects and operations. This is where a stakeholder plan comes into play. This is a business document that can be referred to as a stakeholder engagement plan or a stakeholder management plan. This document lays out how the team intends to oversee key stakeholders’ goals and expectations throughout the project life cycle. This document is frequently developed in conjunction with the primary project plan for a particular body of work. In other terms, this document is created before the start of a project, and it is maintained on record and updated as needed during the project. This document is critical for a company since key stakeholder engagement may make or break a project. It will assist the organization in ensuring that deliverables and stakeholder expectations are aligned, allowing the project to be considered a success.

Stakeholder Plan: What’s Inside It?

Listed and discussed below are the key components that make up an effective stakeholder plan:

Stakeholder List/Identification. This is the first important component that is present in a stakeholder plan. This part of the document is used to provide the names of all project stakeholders. The section should at the very least outline their duties and responsibilities in relation to the project. In other words, this section categorizes stakeholders according to their power, impact, connection (internal or external), or any other factor that the project manager would find beneficial in managing communication. Keep in mind that it’s crucial to be comprehensive while writing this part since it’s easy to discount the capacity of a small stakeholder to derail a project if they’re not properly spoken to.Plans to Interact. After identifying who the stakeholders of the company are, this section of the stakeholder plan comes next. The purpose of this section of the stakeholder plan is to determine how the project team will interact and communicate with the stakeholders who have been properly identified. This stage normally entails a more thorough evaluation of each stakeholder, which will be used to guide the rest of the plan. When communicating with stakeholders, the organization may analyze the amount of perceived engagement, which will aid the project manager in devising strategies to engage stakeholders in a way that increases their awareness of the project’s essential issues or increases their support to assure the success of a project.Contact Names. In addition to the names of the stakeholders, proper contact names should also be identified in a stakeholder plan since it is necessary to keep lines open to the appropriate parties. Identifying proper stakeholder contacts is also necessary since many stakeholders have many layers of bureaucracy which can result in project delays when the primary decision-maker is not being communicated with directly.Areas of Influence. After identifying who will be the appropriate stakeholders to contact in a project, this key component comes next. The stakeholder’s stake is defined in this section of the stakeholder plan. Take notice of how their interests coincide with the project, what their business goals are and how the project interferes with them, and why the stakeholder is interested in the project when establishing their stake. These qualities are critical because genuine stakeholder interaction is impossible without first knowing each other’s perspectives.Stakeholder’s Power. After defining the areas of influence that a stakeholder can have on the company, this section will then determine how much power they will hold. Each stakeholder has the option to halt and/or amend the project in their own way. This component of the stakeholder plan will define what that ability is, where it comes from, and how to govern it. Stakeholder authority over a project can sometimes be reduced, but this comes at a price, both financially and in terms of stakeholder satisfaction. This implies they may become highly disgruntled and have an impact on other project stakeholders’ decisions.Engagement Approach/Activities. This serves as the last key component of the stakeholder plan. The approach for engaging the stakeholder must be detailed in this area of the stakeholder plan. To put it another way, this component of the plan effectively acts as a summary of the many actions the project team will engage in to interact with stakeholders, handle their expectations, and keep them interested in the project. Pre-planned meetings with stakeholders or crucial reports are examples of this. Additionally, the sorts of communications that will be utilized during the project (emails, meetings) are defined below, as well as who each form of communication is most suited for.

What Are the Different Examples of Stakeholders?

Listed and discussed below are some of the most common types/examples of stakeholders that exist:

Investors. These are usually the most common types of stakeholders, and the stake that they usually have in the company involves financial returns. Shareholders and debt holders are both investors. A shareholder is an investor who puts money into a firm with the expectation of receiving a specific rate of return, whereas a debtholder is an investor who owns a debt instrument, most frequently a bond. The idea of shareholder value is often a source of anxiety for investors. All additional capital suppliers, including lenders and possible acquirers, are included in this category. All shareholders are stakeholders by definition, but stakeholders are not shareholders.Communities. Another common type of stakeholder that exists is the community type. The stake that they hold in the company usually involves health, safety, and economic development. Communities are key stakeholders and they are considered to be one because they are affected by a variety of factors such as job generation, economic development, health, and safety. When a large corporation moves into or out of a small town, it has an immediate and considerable influence on employment, income, and expenditure. Some industries may have a negative influence on health because they modify the environment.Customers. These stakeholders can usually be considered to be the most important ones in a company, and the stake that they hold is usually the quality and value of a product or service. Many people believe that companies exist to help people. Customers are stakeholders in a business since the quality of service/products and their value affects them. Passengers traveling by plane, ship, or any other mode of land transport, for example, are putting their lives in the hands of the company while using these forms of transport.Employees. Another entity that can be considered a stakeholder would be the employees of the company. The stake that they hold usually involves employment income and safety. Employees have a direct financial stake in the firm since they earn a salary and get various monetary and non-monetary incentives. Employees may have a health and safety interest depending on the nature of the firm, especially if they work for organizations with a high degree of human risk.

How to Develop a Stakeholder Plan

Engaging with the company’s stakeholders will help the company understand what they will need, what they expect, and what level of influence they have over the company, and proper planning is usually needed in order to do so. With that being said, here are the key steps to follow in order to develop a stakeholder plan:

1. Identify Who the Stakeholders Will be

In the process of creating the stakeholder plan, this is the first important step that needs to be followed. Here, what needs to be done is to clearly and properly identify the stakeholders who are going to be included in this document. In this step, conduct a stakeholder analysis to identify all stakeholders associated with the project when determining who the stakeholders will be. A meeting with the project sponsor can also be scheduled to clearly establish the project sponsor’s expectations, as well as any concerns or difficulties they may have with the suggested plan. This stage is useful for determining who each stakeholder is and how they might affect the project’s scope, as well as creating stakeholder communication expectations.

2. Prioritize the Stakeholders

After identifying who the stakeholders will be in a particular project, a minor step that can be added will be to hold a meeting with them in order to learn more about their role. Then, prioritize all stakeholders based on their impact and interests in the business after identifying and meeting with them. This allows you to identify which stakeholders will demand the most effort during the project and which will have the most impact. High-influence and high-interest stakeholders, high-influence and low-interest stakeholders, low-influence and high-interest stakeholders, and low-influence and low-interest stakeholders are the four types of stakeholders.

3. Develop Means of Communicating With the Stakeholders

After classifying the stakeholders according to their influence and interest, it’s time to proceed to this step. Begin planning how to engage and connect with each of the persons that have been identified and prioritized in this phase of establishing the stakeholder plan. This approach should be modified for each individual as needed, taking into consideration their particular communication preferences and level of project participation. The type of communication, the regularity of communication, the communication style, and who is engaged with each sort of communication are all elements that might influence the establishment of a communication technique.

4. Set Some Expectations

After developing means by which the company can communicate with the stakeholders, it’s time to proceed to this part of creating the stakeholder plan. In addition to the communications plan, it’s critical to set project expectations. Create project timeframes and describe the procedure for stakeholders to provide input. This may help the company in the process of managing the project and the expectations of each stakeholder.

5. Document and Implement

After setting shareholder expectations, proceed to this step of creating the stakeholder plan, which will serve as the last. Share the plan with the whole project team at this point so that everyone can double-check and modify the data and make any last-minute modifications or additions. After the stakeholder plan has been properly verified and edited, it is time to put it into action as part of the broader plan. It’s also crucial that everyone gets access to the strategy. This increases project transparency, which helps to develop confidence among all stakeholders.


Why is a stakeholder plan important?

A detailed stakeholder plan of action guarantees that the stakeholders’ interests and expectations are known, giving the organization the opportunity to handle them correctly. A communication plan helps anyone to explain to a project team how communication will function, including who will be informed of what and when. Developing a stakeholder strategy also allows the organization to better anticipate stakeholder demands and handle any issues ahead of time.

What is the difference between a stakeholder and a shareholder?

While stakeholders and shareholders sound very similar, their meanings are not the same. A company stakeholder is someone who cares about the company’s success or failure. The policies and objectives of the organization can impact or be affected by a stakeholder. Internal or external stakeholders are also possible. A company shareholder, on the other hand, is someone who owns at least one share of a corporation and so has a financial stake in its success. Individual individuals or huge companies that want a say in how a firm is run are called shareholders.

Is transparency important when developing a stakeholder plan?

Yes, while building a stakeholder strategy, transparency is crucial. To do so, a strategy must be devised that promotes and preserves transparency through open two-way interaction. When openness is prioritized in the development of this plan, it fosters confidence among corporate stakeholders, allowing the project to receive their support and collaboration.

Companies engaging in projects should take note of the impact that their stakeholders can hold. As stated earlier, these are the entities that can have an interest in the project’s success for personal and/or professional reasons. In order to effectively interact with the stakeholders to ensure that their expectations and needs in the project are met, this document is needed. Whenever you’re having difficulty in creating this type of document, there are plenty of sample templates that are available in this article which can aid you in creating this plan.