A stakeholder is defined as person with an interest or concern in something, especially in a business.
Within businesses the stakeholders could include:
- Owners of the business
- Share holders
- Auditing and government bodies
According to Wikipedia there are three types of stakeholders:
- Primary stakeholders – usually internal stakeholders, those that engage in economic transactions with the business. For example: stockholders, customers, suppliers, creditors and employees.
- Secondary stakeholders – usually external stakeholders, although not engaged in direct economic exchange with the business – are affected by or can affect its actions. For example: the general public, communities, activist groups, business support groups and the media.
- Excluded stakeholders – such as children or the disinterested public, originally as they have no economic impact on business.
Miro.com suggests that many leading companies advocate for a less hierarchical organisational structure, product developers feel more empowered to innovate and drive change even if they don’t hold senior positions. This shift generates a lot of positive changes, but it also means communication and alignment are even more important to make sure projects are not blocked by an important decision-maker.
One of the best ways to make sure you get buy-in from all the key players is stakeholder analysis and mapping. They created a step-by-step guide to help navigate this process and make sure projects and products are supported within organisations to show a real impact.
Stakeholder mapping is the visual process of laying out all the stakeholders of a product, project, or idea on one map. The main benefit of a stakeholder map is to get a visual representation of all the people who can influence the project and how they are connected.
A stakeholder map is critical to know you are involving the right people when you plan to launch a major project or product.
Building a product – When building a new product from scratch you’ll need to know the stakeholders for different groups. The number and the roles of stakeholders may vary depending on the type of product you are working on. Here is a list of potential stakeholders for this situation:
- Customers / users – knowing your audience is critical for creating a product that people will love. Think of the groups of people you are serving and their needs.
- Industries / markets – as a product developer, you can’t ignore what’s happening in your field, so brainstorming potential competitors, outlining market regulations, and writing down major trends can be very useful.
- Suppliers – for certain products (and especially for digital platforms like Airbnb, Uber, BlaBlaCar, and others), generating a supply of certain services is as important as creating demand. If you are building a platform, what are the key suppliers and how you can ‘subsidise’ one side of the demand / supply equation if needed.
- Investors – if your product needs substantial investments, you might want to include venture capital firms as major stakeholders since they will have the power to influence your product’s future.
Penetrating a market – if you’re trying to penetrate a new market with your product you’ll also need to designate a few stakeholder groups.
- New Customers – trying asking yourself what are the needs of those who haven’t heard about your product yet. Are there any subgroups within this group?
- Old Customers – which personas are critical for your sustainable growth? Adding them to your map and understanding their challenges is key to your product’s success.
- New retailers – who are the main external stakeholders for your project? Whether you are creating a physical or a digital product, you need strong partnerships to reach new audiences.
Starting a new project – will also need stakeholders internally. Here is how a list of stakeholders may look like:
- Project Manager
- CEO/C-Level exec
Depending on the complexity of the project or a product, you can have just a couple of stakeholders for a small project or dozens of them if the project brings a big change to your organization. When you are dealing with a lot of internal and external stakeholders, it is very important to prioritize them. One of the best ways to do that is to use a matrix to analyse the power that stakeholders have over your project and their level of interest in it. As the matrix below shows, all stakeholders can fall into four categories:
- High power, highly interested people (manage closely). These are the key stakeholders who can impact the success of your project.
- High power, less interested people (keep satisfied). This group can influence your project so by keeping them satisfied should help meet their engagements needs and make them feel involved.
- Low power, highly interested people (keep informed). Talking to this group will be helpful for feedback on your project and can ensure no major issues arise. It could also help identify areas that could be improved or may have been overlooked.
- Low power, less interested people (monitor). Don’t ignore this group but they have little influence or interest in the project. Let them know periodically about the project to in case they move into another group.
Within L&D teams stakeholders should be involved from the beginning of a project. We are planning and writing various training sessions which fit across various roles. Here are some examples of where and how they have engaged with stakeholders.
Learning Needs Analysis
Strategic Objectives – what is the organisational context and the “why” behind any capabilities and learning? When writing Hazard Analysis Critical Control Principles (HACCP) you should consider the requirements of legislation, the views of auditing bodies, customer requirements as well as internal Quality and Management teams.
- Operational Outcomes – what do we need to achieve to meet the strategic objectives? They can identify current risks and which teams are at greater risk such as filling and tank room operators who could have direct contact with the contact. Once packaged the risk is greatly reduced.
- Employee behaviours – what do people need to do to generate the outcomes we want? Operators need to be able to spot HACCP issues as well as communicate our policies and procedures to auditors and customers.
- Learnable capabilities – what are the capabilities that people need so they will be able to do what we want them to learn? Operators and supervisors need to understand that HACCP is a legal requirement and what the consequences of not having processes in place could be.
- Gap assessment – what are the current levels of capability and what do we need to train to get them to the desired level? Whilst all staff complete online food safety every year, and key staff complete a mini HACCP brief and questionnaire, this was identified by a recent audit as not being sufficient. The recommendation was that all operators in key areas need to have a Level 2 HACCP qualification and all Line Leaders and Supervisor should be at Level 3.
- Prioritise learning and training needs – based on the gap analysis what do we need people to learn? We have identified that Engineers, depal, filler and tank room operators have direct contact with product as could Line Leaders.
- Learning approaches – how will we transmit the knowledge and secure the learning to ensure people gain the right levels of capability? This can be one online but not all staff are computer literate. We could internal courses with an approved facilitator however this can be costly and will not often fit around production schedules. We chose to set up a Highfield Centre on site so they can deliver the material internally, at a pace that suits them and adapt the material to their processes.
- Roll-out plan – how do we deliver the learning we have identified? We plan to write the material in the coming month, then roll out to apprentices before the bulk of identified teams. It was also be a shared roll-out with other parts of the group making it easier to run regular sessions without either site having to slow production.
- Evaluations criteria – how will we evaluate the work we do to train and educate our people? We will evaluate the effectiveness of training through feedback questionnaires from leaners, pass rates of the formal examination, a change in working behaviours through more reporting of issues and feedback from future audits.
- Cost benefit analysis – how much will our learning programme cost and how does this compare with the projected benefits? What will be the return on investment? We are considering the cost of external courses and downtime against a longer roll-out internally. There is a Senior Management level concern at retaining accreditations and ensuring the product that goes to the consumer is fit for purpose. If we were to lose our accolades, we would also lose customer trust and confidence. Many contracts are based on having the highest level British Retail consortium accreditation.
When designing training, facilitators need to ensure that their material meets the standards of the qualification, this will change regularly. Facilitators should be qualified in the subject matter and utilise the teams within the business to ensure the material matches business needs. We have a clear HACCP plan and a team of managers responsible for its implementation however it has found that external training is un-relatable to their processes and products. By delivering internally they can adapt / or add in industry specific material that will make the material relatable to learners. This will include cooperation with managers, the Quality team and designers. Facilitators will need to follow the “plan – do – check – act” principle to ensure the material remains effective and compliant.
Recent discussions are around maintaining production demands and staffing issues but also investing in the teams. Stakeholders such as Supervisors and Department heads will need to understand and balance the needs of the business with the long term goal of having “better but less” people and the requirements of auditing bodies and customers. By involving the management team they can outline dates available and times scales for completion and allow managers to have an input of who and when they free up. There will also need to be some co-ordination with the technical specialists to answer any questions the facilitators can’t.
According to Fred Nickols report “Stakeholder Approach to Evaluating Training” most trainers have an interest in seeing that the training they develop and deliver is successful. There are others who want training to be successful, too. Chief among them are the managers who sponsor or fund the training, the managers who manage the training department, and last, but not least, the trainees.
In the example of delivering HACCP training internally, evaluation will follow the Kirkpatrick model.
- Reaction – what knowledge did learners have at the start of the training and has that changed. Learners could be issued with a questionnaire pre-training and then revisit that questionnaire during a revision period before the examination.
- Behaviour – that learners adapt what they have discussed when they return to the facility and embed the principles of cleaning and monitoring for potential issues.
- Learning – as none of the staff have previously undertook a formal qualification in HACCP, it may have to wait till the second round of training to evaluate their pass rates. Typically, operators will need retraining every three years.
- Results – that learners pass the qualification first time round and therefore the business achieves the requirement of the audit. In external courses we have a low pass rate for this qualification mainly down to the terminology in other food markets used. This will still need to be covered a part of the examination but if explained in “our company” terms it may be digested more effectively.
Effectively this report highlights that stakeholders come in many forms. When looking at the example of HACCP training, the main purpose is to protect the consumer but to do that you have to consider the legal and auditing body requirements as well as the internal stakeholders and knowledge experts. From designing to delivery and evaluation there is a constant need to consult and inform your stakeholders to ensure you achieve effective training, return on investments and retention of operators. Keep the “power of influence and interest” map in mind to ensure you inform the relevant people at the right time.
I think we have established that learning is based on metrics and whilst we measure the reason for training we are also measuring the results and ROI.