Step 1: Identify and list all possible stakeholders. Evaluate the scope of your project to assess what people and departments might be affected by both the project and its favorable outcome. The project manager and team are obviously involved. Employees and unions, if applicable, may be affected. Suppliers, bankers and customers may be other potential stakeholders.
Step 2: Organize your stakeholder list. Some stakeholders have more influence and their buy-in becomes crucial to the success of the project. Establish a hierarchy of stakeholder importance to focus your management efforts.
Step 3: Involve your key stakeholders early in the project. For external stakeholders such as consumers, this may be by way of marketing surveys. Meeting with internal stakeholders may reveal previously unknown roadblocks or opportunities.
Step 4: Establish expectations for both stakeholder participation and updating, and stick to expectations. For example, if you commit to weekly reports, ensure you issue weekly reports. Loss of trust will erode stakeholder confidence. Recognize that stakeholder buy-in is not a one-time event and must be maintained.
Step 5: Communicate the good with the bad. Do not focus on only benefits from your project. Describe compromises and potential negative outcomes. An outlook that is too positive can generate suspicion and reserve stakeholder buy-in.