Oct 012008

You know your research will be sound, however you’re feeling a bit unsure that your recommendations will be acted on.

It’s easy to get so involved in the ins and outs of researching your project, that you lose sight of the bigger picture. In the current climate of partnership working, and projects funded from multiple sources, you’re likely to have a range of stakeholders with an interest in your project. If you want your stakeholders to act on your recommendations; you’ll need to involve them at various stages of the research.

5 ways to involve stakeholders

1.    Establish each stakeholder’s agenda

Start by making a list of all your stakeholders. Consider people or organisations who: have a management/supervisory role, are actively involved in your project, fund your project, make in-kind contributions, benefit from your project activities, set policy which affects your project.

Your key stakeholders are likely to sit on your Board or Committee. Are there more?
For each stakeholder, check out what they want to achieve through your project.

2.    Invite stakeholder input for your research brief

It’s a good idea to invite key stakeholders to comment on your research brief before it starts. This may happen automatically through your Board of Committee. If not, circulate your research brief, asking for feedback. That way your stakeholders are more likely to support you.

3.    Get your stakeholders’ views on your research

Plan to consult some of your stakeholders as part of your research, to get their views on your research questions. For example, how well do they feel key project objectives have been met? How well is the project meeting their own objectives? What do they see as successes of your project? How should it be improved in future? Their responses will help you make recommendations.

4.    Test your recommendations with your stakeholders

Once you have drafted up the recommendations which follow from your research, consider testing them out with your stakeholders before finalising your report. A stakeholder workshop can be very effective because it gives the opportunity for people with different interests to discuss your suggestions, and perhaps develop them further.

5.    Circulate your recommendations in a digestible form

If your recommendations are buried in a long report, or difficult to read, you’ll jeopardise your chances. Include an Executive Summary in your report, which lists all your recommendations, and give clear links to the more detailed justification of each recommendation within your report.

The bottom line: Involving your stakeholders at various points of your research makes sure you stay on track, and increases the chances of your recommendations being acted on.

© May Johnstone, 2009, Project Perspectives.co.uk. Please feel free to circulate this article provided it is used in its entirety, including this acknowledgement.

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