Why Good Stakeholder Collaboration Matters – And How To Get It Right

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Stakeholder collaboration involves working with a range of people to achieve a certain goal. This is easier said than done. With so many different needs and perspectives in the mix, things can easily spiral out of control. So how can you make sure they don’t? In this blog post, you’ll learn how to prioritize your stakeholders while staying focused on the bigger picture. You’ll also discover practical tips and tools to improve stakeholder collaboration both in and outside of your organization.

Why Good Stakeholder Collaboration Matters – And How To Get It Right

Ready to get stuck into the topic of stakeholder collaboration? Start with the basics, or skip to the section that’s most interesting to you.

  1. What Is Stakeholder Collaboration?
  2. Why Is Stakeholder Collaboration Important?
  3. What Is a Stakeholder Analysis – And How Can It Help Me?
  4. How Do I Perform a Stakeholder Analysis?
  5. When Is Good Stakeholder Collaboration Most Critical?
  6. 5 Tips For Better Stakeholder Collaboration.

What Is Stakeholder Collaboration?

Two people on a call
Stakeholder collaboration is an essential part of achieving organizational goals.

Stakeholder collaboration is the process of working with people or groups who have an interest in your project or organization. Some stakeholders are internal, whereas others are external. Internal stakeholders are individuals or groups within your organization, such as senior leaders and team members. External stakeholders are outside your organization. They might be partners, customers, or communities.

Want to improve teamwork within your organization? Learn how to make cross-team collaboration a success.

Good stakeholder collaboration involves:

  • Getting stakeholder input and using it to inform decision making.
  • Communicating expectations and reaching agreements on the work to be carried out.
  • Keeping stakeholders informed and engaged throughout the collaboration process.
  • Listening to stakeholder feedback to improve results.

Why Is Stakeholder Collaboration Important?

When was the last time you achieved great business results by yourself? If you have an answer, you might be missing the wider context. Working with others is an essential part of achieving organizational goals, so it pays to get it right. Whether you want to increase brand exposure, implement new systems or drive revenue growth, you’ll need the support and input of your stakeholders to make it happen. 

When you collaborate with stakeholders effectively, you:

  1. Gather the information you need to plan successfully. 
  2. Generate buy-in and win resources.
  3. Gain insights and learnings to make better decisions
  4. Stay focused and on track to meet your goals and objectives.
  5. Set a standard for long term collaboration and business growth.

What Is a Stakeholder Analysis — And How Can It Help Me?

Two people at their laptops performing a stakeholder analysis
Identify and prioritize your stakeholders before starting a project.

A stakeholder analysis is the starting point for successful stakeholder collaboration. It’s the process of identifying and assessing all stakeholders involved in your project. By doing this, you can:

  • Understand their needs and interests.
  • Identify potential conflicts or areas of agreement i.e. overlapping or contradictory needs.
  • Prioritize stakeholders based on their level of influence and importance.
  • Develop strategies to engage effectively with each stakeholder group.

How Do I Perform a Stakeholder Analysis?

Sticky notes indicating stakeholder impact.
A stakeholder analysis involves understanding your stakeholders’ needs.

To get started with your stakeholder analysis, list all of your stakeholders. Typical stakeholders include:

External stakeholders like clients, partners and suppliers.

Internal stakeholders like senior management, project leaders and team members.

Not all stakeholders will have the same level of influence over your work. With this in mind, rank your stakeholders by influence using a power/interest grid. 

Power/Interest grid for performing a stakeholder analysis.
Use a power/interest grid to inform your stakeholder management strategy.
  • High power, highly interested → prioritize keeping them informed and happy.
  • High power, less interested → keep them satisfied, but not at the expense of more powerful, interested stakeholders. 
  • Low power, highly interested → keep them engaged and welcome their contributions, but don’t be too influenced by their opinions.
  • Low power, less interested → keep them in mind but don’t involve them more than necessary.

When your grid is complete, you can further categorize your stakeholders by interest. Ask the right questions to better understand their needs: why they are interested, what information they need, and how to communicate it. Understanding these things will shape the way you engage with your stakeholders and inform your stakeholder communication

Want to learn more about stakeholder management? Discover 3 tips for managing project stakeholders effectively here.

When Is Stakeholder Collaboration Most Critical?

Rocket launch to indicate critical moments
A lot at stake? Now is the time to act!

Stakeholder collaboration is most critical when things could go really wrong – or really right. These are pivotal moments that require clear, transparent and strategic communication with stakeholders. For example:

  • When there is a crisis that affects stakeholders (e.g. product recall, environmental disaster).
  • When introducing new initiatives that require stakeholder engagement (e.g. launching a new product or service, entering a new market).
  • When there is significant change coming (e.g. management changes, product launches).
  • When developing new policies or standards that could affect stakeholder groups (e.g. changes in HR policies or data privacy policies).

By prioritizing stakeholder collaboration during these times, you will be able to manage risks, avoid miscommunication, and secure better outcomes.

5 Tips For Better Stakeholder Collaboration.

Two hands holding a heart symbolizing positive stakeholder collaboration.
There are some key steps you can take to make stakeholder collaboration a success.

Although stakeholder collaboration is a part of your daily business life as well, project work is where teams can collaborate with stakeholders with the greatest effect. We’ll look at stakeholder collaboration in projects in more detail throughout the rest of this post.

Follow these 5 tips for a successful stakeholder collaboration process in your next project.

1. Define A Clear Process For Collaboration

Arrow symbolizing the right direction.
Define your process — and write it down!

Clarity is key for successful stakeholder collaboration. Before your project begins, establish processes that all stakeholders should stick to — then write them down! Consider 

  • Goals and objectives
  • Requirements
  • Deliverables 
  • Dependencies (e.g. how workflows are connected)
  • Milestones and deadlines
  • Communication channels  

Defining roles and responsibilities from the get-go will help your project run smoothly. When everyone knows what they have to do, and who the contact person for each topic is, there will be more clarity and accountability across stakeholders. As such, there will be less duplicate work carried out, and fewer mistakes. 

Not sure where to start? A RACI matrix will help you identify and communicate roles and responsibilities to your stakeholders.

It’s also helpful to define how feedback should be given and how often. If you’re working with external clients, you’ll need to define how long they have to provide feedback, the scope of the feedback, and a timeframe for feedback to be implemented. If you’re working with external partners who are providing work for you, be sure to share guidelines and best practices that they can follow.

The Tools You Need.

Your collaboration process is a game of two halves: agreeing on how to collaborate with your stakeholders in advance, and then ensuring that this actually happens as your project progresses.  

To do both effectively, you need the right tools. You can document collaboration processes in a project documentation tool to make expectations clear for both internal and external stakeholders. Then, use a task management tool – with projects that reflect your desired workflows – in order to put your collaboration processes into action. This also allows for more granular, on-task discussions that don’t interfere with the bigger picture. As a result, there will be fewer misunderstandings, and everyone can work with confidence towards shared goals

The more naturally you can switch between your documentation and task management tools, the more effective collaboration will be. That’s why it pays to invest in a solution like MeisterTask, which includes project documentation with MeisterNote with every license.

Want to learn more about project-based collaboration? Check out this blog post.

2. Streamline Stakeholder Updates — And Save Time

Clock symbolizing time saved.
Spend less time answering questions: make information accessible to stakeholders.

Updating all of your stakeholders can be time consuming — especially if you don’t have the right processes or tools in place. For example, discussing details in long email chains and calls can cause information to get lost. This can lead to uncertainty around what’s been agreed. As a result, you spend more time repeating information and resolving misunderstandings.

To streamline stakeholder collaboration, consider a self-service approach to accessing information. This way, your stakeholders can find what they need, when they need it.

  • Communicate a full project overview. Use a project documentation tool to document plans, updates, and deliverables transparently for everyone. This clear top-level overview helps stakeholders see the bigger picture so they can work proactively and asynchronously. 
  • Communicate task details. Use a task management tool to collect task details in one place and centralize updates. This way, stakeholders can see what needs to be done on a granular level.

We understand the need for different types of collaboration. That’s why MeisterTask with MeisterNote helps you manage work on a task-by-task basis, while helping collaborators easily access broader contextual information and task details from anywhere at any time.

Find out how to grant access to external stakeholders in MeisterTask and manage their access with Roles and Permissions.

MeisterTask has created more transparency within our projects. We save time by going to fewer meetings, and meeting minutes have become mostly obsolete. Thanks to MeisterTask we collaborate and communicate more effectively.

Katja Esch, IT Project Leader LBBW

Goodbye Chaos. Hello Collaboration.

Simplify Stakeholder Collaboration With MeisterTask.

Try it now

3. Set Deadlines – And Commit to Them

Deadlines increase accountability and keep your project on track.

Clear deadlines are important to ensure your project stays on track and you meet your milestones. When collaborating on projects with stakeholders, lay out requirements clearly. You can document broader deadlines and roadmaps in MeisterNote, and set task-specific deadlines and track progress in MeisterTask to ensure the smaller parts of your big picture are completed on time. 

Visibility increases accountability, which means the deadline is more likely to be met. To set realistic and achievable deadlines that your stakeholders will agree to:  

  • Give yourself some leeway when setting deadlines. You should assume that not everything will go smoothly – there might be a blocker or two along the way. Realistic deadlines will take this into account.
  • Tie deadlines to specific milestones so that they relate to tangible results. Communicating these milestones helps stakeholders to understand the reasoning behind deadlines and see their responsibilities in context. 

Setting and agreeing on deadlines is one thing, but what happens when they need to change? Consider the following points to make the process smoother. 

  • Explain why. Explaining why a deadline is changing (either being postponed or brought forward) will help to avoid conflict and provide context to stakeholders so they can re-evaluate their work and plan accordingly. 
  • Be assertive. If a deadline is being brought forward for good reason, don’t be swayed by complaints. Keep the end goal in mind and encourage everyone to do the same.
  • Act fast. If you know a deadline is changing, don’t sit on it. The sooner you reassess, reprioritize, and communicate the change, the more time everyone will have to respond.

Steamline Stakeholder Collaboration.

Work Together Seamlessly in MeisterTask.

Try it now

4. Prioritize Data Security

Lock on phone screen indicating a secure stakeholder collaboration.
Make stakeholder collaboration more secure – and put your stakeholders at ease.

Security is often a concern for external stakeholders. How do they know the data they share with you is secure? Do you both adhere to the same strict security standards? If you can’t answer these questions, your external stakeholders can be unwilling to share information. If they work in industries such as banking or healthcare where data security is heavily regulated, they may not legally be allowed to share it with you. This means you won’t have the facts you need to make informed decisions. It might even mean the end of the collaboration. 

The solution? Make sure you’re industry compliant and use secure tools for handling their (and your) data. When researching collaborative tools, check for certifications such as ISO 27001:2013. This is an international standard on how to manage information security – and getting certified means fulfilling over 100 individual security requirements.

Meister is ISO 27001:2013 certified. When you use MeisterTask, security measures are taken care of – so you and your stakeholders have peace of mind. Find out more about security at Meister here.

Take these additional steps to make stakeholder collaboration more secure, and put your stakeholders at ease. 

  • Know what you need and what you don’t, so you can explain why you’re asking for certain information – and what you’re using it for. 
  • Make sure your team knows what they can and can’t share with external stakeholders, as well as the extent to which external stakeholder information can be shared within your organization.
  • Control the level of access stakeholders have to certain information to keep sensitive data safe. For example, with MeisterTask’s Roles and Permissions, you can limit what data certain collaborators can view, access and edit.

Meister takes data security as seriously as we do. We have total peace of mind knowing that MeisterTask is GDPR-compliant and its servers are located in an ISO-certified data center in Europe.

Marco Rubert, Head of ORG/IT zeb

5. Communicate Strategically

Person communicating with stakeholders online.
Consider that different stakeholders have different communication styles.

Communicating strategically means adapting your communication style for each stakeholder group. Some stakeholders might appreciate hard facts and quantitative results, whereas others need a story. Your stakeholder analysis should help you figure out the best approach for each group. However, you can also tweak your communication style as you go.

No matter who you’re communicating with, there are some general rules which always apply. 

  • Transparent and honest communication builds trust, which is essential for strong stakeholder relationships. 
  • Clearly communicating goals and requirements (e.g. regulations, budget limitations) will help stakeholders understand the “why” behind the “what” — and make it easier to get them on-side
  • Simple, plain language will help your stakeholders to relate to your message – so avoid corporate jargon.
  • Active listening will help you to better understand your stakeholders, and make them feel valued and heard.
  • Recognizing your stakeholders’ contributions will make them feel appreciated and more committed to the collaboration.
  • Taking the time to communicate effectively is important – mistakes and misunderstandings only take up more time in the long run. 

Better Stakeholder Collaboration Starts Now.

Team of stakeholders collaborating on a project.
Make your next collaboration a success.

The success of stakeholder collaboration comes down to good communication and relationship-building. Understanding your stakeholders’ needs and establishing trust and empathy will lead to a more productive collaboration. Whether you’re kicking off a new project, managing change or even battling a crisis, try the tips and solutions recommended here. Doing so will make collaborating with stakeholders easier – and help you reach your goals. Good luck!


What Is Stakeholder Collaboration?

Stakeholder collaboration is a process of working with individuals or groups who have an interest in your project or organization. Stakeholder collaboration can include both internal and external stakeholders. 

Internal stakeholders definition: Internal stakeholders are individuals or groups within your organization, such as senior leaders and team members. 

External stakeholders definition: External stakeholders are outside your organization. They might be partners, customers, or communities.

What Is a Stakeholder Analysis?

A stakeholder analysis is the starting point for successful stakeholder collaboration. It’s the process of identifying and assessing all stakeholders involved in your project or organization. It helps you to:

  • Understand their needs and interests.
  • Identify potential conflicts or areas of agreement i.e. overlapping or contradictory needs.
  • Prioritize stakeholders based on their level of influence and importance.
  • Develop strategies to engage effectively with each stakeholder group.

How Can I Improve Stakeholder Collaboration in My Organization?

There are a number of things you can do to improve stakeholder alignment and ensure stakeholder collaboration runs smoothly:

  1. Define a clear process for collaboration
  2. Streamline stakeholder updates – and save time
  3. Set deadlines – and commit to them 
  4. Prioritize data security 
  5. Communicate strategically