How to identify stakeholders

Recognising key stakeholders is essential for successful process improvement, as it involves individuals who can substantially impact the initiative’s outcome. Knowing these stakeholders helps you grasp their roles, perspectives, and contributions to the improvement effort.

Including the right stakeholders in a well-executed process improvement initiative can offer numerous advantages over traditional project-based approaches. However, many businesses tend to focus on implementing projects for process improvement and achieving results.

Focusing on process improvement rather than projects allows organisations to benefit from a more agile, incremental approach. This results in quicker outcomes, improved resource allocation, and adaptability to changing business environments. Emphasising process improvement fosters a culture of continuous progress and development, ultimately creating a more efficient, competitive, and sustainable organisation.

Before diving into stakeholder identification, let’s discuss the differences between projects and process improvement.

Projects vs Process Improvement – what’s the difference?

Projects and process improvement both break tasks down, but they differ in how impacts are realised. Projects show their full effect only at the end, while process improvement allows ongoing changes and step-by-step benefits.

Many business owners pick projects over process improvement, leading to extended timelines and limited resources. Projects often take 6-12 months to finish, requiring lots of resources and staff within a set timeframe.

In contrast, process improvement uses a more flexible approach. Tasks are divided into smaller pieces, yielding results within a week or two. Assigning these tasks to one or two people makes them easier to manage and less resource-intensive.

Here, process improvement is the goal, and the project helps achieve it. Business owners might struggle to see process improvement benefits or know the right direction, causing longer timelines or failing to reach the objective.

By grasping the differences between process improvement and projects, business owners can make wise decisions on where to focus resources and efforts for optimal results.

Who are process improvement stakeholders?

In traditional projects, sponsors provide resources, guidance, and support. For process improvement, you need process owners. The choice of process owner depends on your specific needs and improvement area.

Each process owner usually has a team, including a subject matter expert and individuals supporting the process owner in implementing change. These stakeholders play a vital role in process improvement success.

Let’s imagine that the owners of a retail store want to implement a click and collect system. Here, the process owner would be the person overseeing the process, which could be the store manager.

They’ll work with several teams to drive this change, like developers to build the software and the customer service team to streamline the customer experience. The store manager will also run customer surveys for feedback on ease of use and if they’ll find it useful, as well as the admin who’ll be monitoring the new process.

Together, the process owner and their team work to identify improvement areas, create and implement strategies, and monitor results to ensure desired outcomes. By involving the right stakeholders, the retail store can gather enough data to see if the click and collect system will be useful and deliver a seamless online shopping experience.

How to identify stakeholders

You can identify stakeholders using several methods, and it’s crucial to consider people with various perspectives and roles within the organisation. Involving a diverse group of stakeholders ensures a thorough understanding of the process, potential challenges, and improvement opportunities. By thoughtfully selecting and engaging these key individuals, you can establish a cooperative environment that encourages open communication and drives successful process improvement. In the following sections, we’ll examine different techniques and considerations for identifying stakeholders in your organisation’s process improvement initiatives.

Process Analysis
Process analysis is a potent tool helping organisations pinpoint improvement areas and create efficient, streamlined processes. By examining existing processes and identifying gaps between current performance and desired outcomes, process analysis aids organisations in optimising operations for maximum efficiency and service quality. Moreover, it offers valuable insight into how people, technology, and resources interact to drive successful business outcomes.

Through process analysis, organisations gain a better understanding of inefficient processes’ root causes and identify improvement strategies. This involves examining task completion, resource usage, decision-making, and team interaction. Furthermore, process analysis helps organisations detect potential risk areas and devise plans to mitigate them.

By thoroughly analysing processes and making necessary changes, businesses can establish an agile environment, leading to long-term success.

Opportunity Assessment
Opportunity assessment is all about process improvement opportunity. Process owners will usually see the most benefit around internal resources.

Let’s go back to the example of the retail store trying to implement the click and collect system. Here’s a simple breakdown of the opportunity assessment:

  • The click and collect system will save 20 hours per month
  • The new system will save $50 per hour from the staff required to manually carry out the same processes
  • 20 hours x $50 = $1,000 saved per month

This is a pretty arbitrary example and often gets more complicated as you need to factor in multiple roles. The opportunity assessment can also change depending on the type of project you’re working on, such as improving your processes to comply with regulation changes.

Interview influencers
Engaging and interviewing influencers in your industry is just one method to elicit valuable knowledge from stakeholders. Other effective ways include conducting surveys and one-to-one meetings. However, a common mistake people often make when gathering information from stakeholders is wasting their time by asking for too much without giving back. Process change owners must respect stakeholders’ time.

In many cases, workshops may run an hour over their scheduled time, causing stakeholders to shuffle their time commitments. This tardiness can lead to unwillingness among stakeholders to offer insights again in the future. To foster a productive relationship with stakeholders, ensure that any engagement is efficient, focused, and respectful of their time.

Defining the Process Improvement Scope

Defining the process improvement scope is a critical step in driving positive change within an organisation. It provides a clear framework for improvement, ensuring that everyone involved is on the same page and working towards the same goals. There are several key points to consider when defining the scope of process improvement:

  1. Clarifying opportunity goals and objectives: Begin by establishing clear and concise goals and objectives for the process improvement initiative. This helps provide direction and focus for the team, ensuring that efforts are channelled towards the most impactful outcomes.
  2. Streamlined identification based on outcomes: When goals and objectives are well-defined, finding the right stakeholders directly affected by the changes or with a keen interest in the improvement results becomes easier. Including these stakeholders in the process improvement efforts ensures that their needs and expectations are addressed, helping to gain their support and approval.
  3. Aligning expectations among team members: With well-defined goals and objectives in place, it is essential to align expectations among all team members. Ensure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities and how they contribute to the overall success of the process improvement project. Clear communication and collaboration are vital in this step.
  4. Setting limits on stakeholder involvement: While it is crucial to involve key stakeholders in the process improvement effort, it is equally important to set boundaries on their involvement. Too many stakeholders can lead to conflicting interests and slow down progress. Establish clear limits on stakeholder involvement to maintain focus and avoid unnecessary complications.

By considering these points when defining the process improvement scope, organisations can create a well-structured plan that aligns team members, engages the right stakeholders, and ultimately leads to successful and meaningful improvements.

Assessing Stakeholder Influence and Interest

Assessing stakeholder influence and interest is a vital component of any process improvement initiative. It helps organisations better understand the dynamics between stakeholders and how to engage them effectively. Here are some key points to consider when assessing stakeholder influence and interest:

  1. Determine the level of concern or enthusiasm for the improvement: Gauge how much each stakeholder cares about the proposed changes. Understanding their level of enthusiasm or concern will help tailor your communication and engagement strategies to address their needs and expectations.
  2. Assess stakeholder influence over the improvement: Identify the level of control or sway each stakeholder has over the process improvement. Some stakeholders may have more power to impact the outcome, making it essential to involve them and secure their support.
  3. Analyse the power dynamics between stakeholders: Examine the relationships between stakeholders and their relative influence over each other. Understanding these dynamics can help in navigating potential conflicts and ensuring a smooth process improvement journey.
  4. Recognise which stakeholders can impact process improvement success: Identify key stakeholders who can significantly increase the chances of success or failure of the improvement effort. Focus on engaging these stakeholders and addressing their concerns to ensure their support.
  5. Balancing stakeholder needs and expectations: While it is essential to engage with all stakeholders, it is crucial to balance their needs and expectations. Strive for a harmonious balance that addresses stakeholder concerns without compromising the overall goals and objectives of the process improvement initiative.

By assessing stakeholder influence and interest, organisations can develop targeted strategies for engaging each stakeholder, ultimately leading to a more successful and collaborative process improvement effort.

Conclusion

Identifying stakeholders and assessing their influence and interests is an important step in any process improvement project. By taking the time to understand the needs, interests, and expectations of both internal and external stakeholders, organisations can plan for successful initiatives that meet everyone’s needs. This analysis also helps organisations identify potential areas of conflict or collaboration, allowing them to create solutions that are beneficial for all involved. By investing in stakeholder analysis up front, organisations can be sure that their process improvement efforts are not only meaningful but also effective