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How to write a stakeholder agreement?

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Writing a stakeholder agreement might seem like a daunting task, but it’s a crucial step in any project. A stakeholder agreement outlines the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of everyone involved in a project, from investors to suppliers. By setting clear expectations and guidelines, stakeholder agreements can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes down the line. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work on understanding and creating a successful stakeholder agreement!

Understanding stakeholder agreements

A stakeholder agreement is a document that outlines the terms and conditions for a project. It’s a legal agreement between all parties involved, and it establishes a framework for cooperation and communication. Before diving into the specifics of how to create a stakeholder agreement, let’s first define what it is and why it’s important.

Definition of a stakeholder agreement

A stakeholder agreement is a written agreement between all parties involved in a project that outlines the terms and conditions of their involvement. It sets guidelines for communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution, and it clarifies the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder.

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Importance of stakeholder agreements

Creating a stakeholder agreement is crucial for any project because it helps ensure that everyone is on the same page, which can prevent misunderstandings, disputes, and legal issues. Stakeholder agreements also provide a framework for decision-making, communication, and conflict resolution, which can help keep the project on track and within budget.

Key elements of a stakeholder agreement

At the core of any stakeholder agreement are the terms and conditions that define the relationships between the parties involved and the project’s goals. The key elements that should be included in a stakeholder agreement are:

  1. Identification of all stakeholders

The first and most important element of a stakeholder agreement is the identification of all stakeholders. This includes anyone who has a vested interest in the project, such as investors, employees, customers, and suppliers. By identifying all stakeholders, the agreement can ensure that everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities, and that no one is left out of the decision-making process.

  1. The project’s objectives

The second element of a stakeholder agreement is the project’s objectives. This includes the goals and outcomes that the project is intended to achieve, as well as any metrics or benchmarks that will be used to measure success. By defining the project’s objectives, the agreement can ensure that everyone is working towards the same end goal, and that there is a clear understanding of what success looks like.

  1. The scope of the project

The third element of a stakeholder agreement is the scope of the project. This includes the specific tasks and deliverables that are required to achieve the project’s objectives, as well as any constraints or limitations that may impact the project’s success. By defining the scope of the project, the agreement can ensure that everyone is aware of what is required to achieve success, and that there are no surprises or misunderstandings along the way.

  1. The roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder

The fourth element of a stakeholder agreement is the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder. This includes the specific tasks and responsibilities that each stakeholder is responsible for, as well as any dependencies or interdependencies between stakeholders. By defining the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder, the agreement can ensure that everyone is aware of what is expected of them, and that there is no confusion or duplication of effort.

  1. The decision-making process

The fifth element of a stakeholder agreement is the decision-making process. This includes the specific procedures and protocols that will be used to make decisions, as well as any criteria or thresholds that must be met before a decision can be made. By defining the decision-making process, the agreement can ensure that everyone is aware of how decisions will be made, and that there is a fair and transparent process in place.

  1. The communication plan

The sixth element of a stakeholder agreement is the communication plan. This includes the specific channels and methods that will be used to communicate information, as well as any protocols or guidelines that must be followed when communicating. By defining the communication plan, the agreement can ensure that everyone is aware of how information will be shared, and that there is a clear and consistent flow of information throughout the project.

  1. The dispute resolution process

The seventh element of a stakeholder agreement is the dispute resolution process. This includes the specific procedures and protocols that will be used to resolve disputes, as well as any escalation paths or legal remedies that may be available. By defining the dispute resolution process, the agreement can ensure that everyone is aware of how conflicts will be resolved, and that there is a fair and efficient process in place.

  1. The timeline and budget

The eighth and final element of a stakeholder agreement is the timeline and budget. This includes the specific deadlines and milestones that must be met, as well as the budget that will be allocated to the project. By defining the timeline and budget, the agreement can ensure that everyone is aware of the project’s timeline and financial constraints, and that there is a clear understanding of what is required to achieve success.

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stakeholder agreement - Mobile stakeholder contract with budget and time icons next to it - Oneflow
Make sure to include a timeline & budget in the stakeholder agreement.

Identifying stakeholders

Before outlining the terms and conditions of a stakeholder agreement, it’s important to identify all the stakeholders involved. A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest or a “stake” in the project, from investors to suppliers, employees to customers. Stakeholder identification can be divided into two categories: internal stakeholders and external stakeholders.

Internal stakeholders

Internal stakeholders are people who work directly on the project, such as employees, management, and shareholders. They have a direct interest in the project’s success and are usually involved in decision-making processes concerning the project.

External stakeholders

External stakeholders are people who are indirectly involved in the project but have an interest in it, such as customers, suppliers, government agencies, and the community. They may provide resources or services that are essential to the project or are affected by the project’s outcome.

Prioritizing stakeholders

It’s important to prioritize stakeholders and consider their needs when creating a stakeholder agreement. Not all stakeholders have the same level of importance, and some may have conflicting objectives. By prioritizing stakeholders, you can manage expectations and ensure that the most critical stakeholders’ demands are addressed.

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stakeholder agreement - Prioritisation list with hands holding up a phone with a stakeholder agreement - Oneflow
Prioritize stakeholders to manage expectations.

Establishing stakeholder objectives

Once you’ve identified all the stakeholders, it’s time to determine each stakeholder’s objectives. Objectives should be aligned with project goals and should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Aligning objectives with project goals

All stakeholder objectives should align with the project’s goals. This ensures that everyone is working toward the same outcome and that there isn’t any conflict of interest. Objectives should be specific to each stakeholder group and should be measurable, so stakeholders can track their progress throughout the project.

Identifying stakeholder needs and expectations

Stakeholder needs and expectations should also be considered when establishing objectives. By identifying stakeholder needs, you can ensure that the project’s outcome meets their expectations. Stakeholder expectations should be realistic and achievable, considering the scope and budget of the project.

Balancing conflicting objectives

Stakeholders may have conflicting objectives, especially if some are internal and others are external. This is where compromise and negotiation skills come into play. By balancing conflicting objectives, you can ensure that all stakeholders are satisfied with the project’s outcome.

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stakeholder agreement - hand balancing wood blocks - Oneflow
Balancing conflicting objectives can be tricky, balance them with a stakeholder agreement.

Creating a communication plan

Communication is key to any project, and a stakeholder agreement should outline the communication plan for the project. The communication plan should identify the communication methods, communication frequency, and communication responsibilities.

Determining communication methods

Communication methods include email, phone calls, video conferencing, and in-person meetings. The communication method should be established based on the stakeholder’s needs, location, and availability.

Establishing communication frequency

The frequency of communication should also be established, so all stakeholders know when to expect updates. This helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Identifying communication responsibilities

Finally, every stakeholder should understand their communication responsibilities. This includes who is responsible for sending updates, who is responsible for receiving updates, and who is responsible for responding to updates or inquiries.

The key takeaways

Creating a stakeholder agreement may seem like a lot of work, but it’s a critical step in any project. By setting clear expectations and guidelines, stakeholder agreements can prevent misunderstandings and disputes, keep the project on track, and ensure that the project’s outcome meets everyone’s expectations. By understanding stakeholder agreements, identifying stakeholders, establishing stakeholder objectives, and creating a communication plan, you’ll be well on your way to creating a successful stakeholder agreement!

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