Jan Taylor Associates Australia has provided stakeholder engagement services for two decades.
We work with clients who have been conducting stakeholder engagement since their project was first considered. JTA’s role is to expand the list of stakeholders and ensure all relevant information has been gathered as stakeholder engagement formally proceeds. As part of any stakeholder engagement JTA will ensure that all relevant details are collated, expectations managed, and a constant in the relationship management is that the client will be a key part of the stakeholder engagement throughout the project.
We develop robust stakeholder engagement and community consultation plans in cooperation with clients. In some projects the stakeholder engagement plans we develop become public documents as part of environmental impact statements and other statutory processes and are subject to public scrutiny.
Risk management and issues identification are major aspects of every stakeholder engagement project; our identification of risk is wide ranging and comprehensive.
We plan stakeholder engagement strategies via JTA/client team workshops where:
key stakeholders are nominated,
expectations and perceptions identified,
nominated concerns to influence the project outcome,
and management strategies and key messages agreed for a stakeholder engagement plan.
A roadmap will be established by the stakeholder engagement plan to reveal what success l looks like, the influences that might shape that success and when stakeholder engagement needs to be modified as the project progresses. In many respects the influence of stakeholders will exceed that of communities as they are usually well-organised and articulate and understand the influence they can bring to bear as part of stakeholder engagement.
Stakeholder engagement can influence a variety of outcomes through techniques such as consultation, communication, negotiation, compromise and relationship development. Throughout the stakeholder engagement process JTA always involves the client as these relationships need to survive long after JTA exits the project.
Again, as part of the stakeholder engagement plan, risks and opportunities need to be anticipated and mitigation strategies and actions identified. The client team will be a part of any decisions reached and must always be aware of the latest version of the stakeholder engagement strategy as this will be adapted as the project continues and all members of the broader stakeholder engagement team need to speak with one voice.
Stakeholder engagement and community consultation are additional expenses for projects that are already facing potential billions in expenditure. However, the benefits of doing stakeholder engagement comprehensively and strategically cannot be overestimated. The increased trust and confidence generated across the project community with effective stakeholder engagement is reflected in improved certainty and pace of progress. The domino effect will translate into political acceptance as well as fewer negative media headlines as the stakeholder engagement ensures further positive conversations and comments across social, economic and political boundaries.
In the absence of carefully managed and updated stakeholder engagement, projects can be derailed with unexpected outrage and the need for reactive planning. Stakeholder engagement will only work to the client’s benefit if the whole organisation is aware of what has been done, outcomes achieved, and any concerns or risks managed simultaneously by the company as a whole rather than within silos or particular units. We can all think of recent and historical instances where stakeholder engagement has been done ineffectively to the detriment of the client and project.
Project proponents today are often looking at billions of dollars of expenditure, much of it financed externally. Those external sources of credit will require an exposition of proposed stakeholder engagement and management which will increase trust and confidence across the project community, as well as accelerate certainty and progress. Effective stakeholder engagement with modified strategies and activities as the project proceeds ensures that remaining resistance is understood and managed and that regulators and politicians are kept abreast of issues or risks.
There are differences amongst consultants and other experts as to the definition of stakeholder. Stakeholder engagement can encompass a narrow or broad spectrum depending on the definitions adopted. JTA always errs on the side of caution. We not only commence with an expansive list of stakeholders but also review the stakeholder engagement plan on an ongoing basis as new parties enter the project environment and need to be carefully mapped in terms of their own issues and concerns as well as interface with existing stakeholders.
PO Box 81, Hamilton Qld 4007 Australia
07 3268 6665