Jambo's Complete Guide to Stakeholder Relationship Management Software
Today, stakeholder relationship management is a critical component of effective stakeholder engagement. One way to help ensure you’re managing your stakeholder relationships as best as possible is by using specialized software, but what is Stakeholder Relationship Management software (or SRM), and how does it contribute to your stakeholder engagement efforts?
SRM stands for stakeholder relationship management and an SRM is a software for managing all your stakeholder relationships and communications with stakeholders.
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For those tasked with managing stakeholder relationships or who are in the stakeholder engagement and consultation space, SRM software is a centralized place to store all stakeholder related information. This information can include stakeholder contact information, engagement records, stakeholder issues, commitments, reports and other stakeholder-related notes.
With an SRM you and your team have one place to log information, meaning everyone always knows exactly where to find everything they need. Organized data simplifies the stakeholder management process, so it won’t become overwhelming or unmanageable.
Stakeholders can tell when a team is unorganized, and this can affect their perception of you and your organization and affect their willingness to engage and collaborate on your engagement program, leaving you vulnerable to increased project risks. With a quality SRM, you can ensure your stakeholder information is organized, accessible, searchable and easy to understand, so you can focus on building meaningful and trusting stakeholder relationships.
To help you build a full understanding of SRM software and how it can help your organization meet its engagement goals, we’ve compiled this comprehensive blog to teach you the basics of stakeholder relationship management software.
In this blog, we'll cover:
- What is Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) Software?
- Who Uses an SRM?
- What Does an SRM Do?
- Benefits of Using an SRM
- SRM for Team Collaboration
- Building Stakeholder Relationships with an SRM
- Using an SRM for Stakeholder Engagement
- SRM Alternatives
- SRM Security
- When Should You Adopt an SRM?
- How Do You Pick an SRM?
- The Best Stakeholder Relationship Management Software
1. What is Stakeholder Relationship Management Software?
Stakeholder Relationship Management software connects and organizes all your stakeholder information within one platform allowing you to manage all your organization’s relationships and communications with stakeholders.
An SRM helps teams to easily track and report on things like stakeholder interactions, issues and commitments and facilitates collaboration among teams working on stakeholder engagement projects.
Want to learn how SRM differs from CRM? Check our our blog!
With Stakeholder Relationship Management software, you can:
- Streamline your input efforts, your engagement efforts and the management of your engagement programs
- Understand your stakeholders and your project by seeing how all your stakeholder information connects
- Compile helpful and clear project updates for your team, stakeholders and/or decision-makers
- Simplify the stakeholder management process to help build positive stakeholder relationships
- Collaborate more effectively with your team and external contractors
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2. Who Uses Stakeholder Relationship Management Software?
Stakeholder relationship management software is useful for any organization that has been tasked with managing large volumes of stakeholder information.
Stakeholder engagement is an important component in forestry, mining, energy, construction, etc. While government, public bodies, financial institutions and healthcare organizations often need to engage external and internal stakeholders as part of a policy development process or a change management strategy.
SRM can be a vital stakeholder management tool for almost every sector.
If you’re uncertain whether your team could use an SRM, ask yourself:
- Will more than one team member be engaging with stakeholders? Would it be useful to access the history of stakeholder engagement, so you always know what has been said and to whom?
- Is teamwork important? Do you need your stakeholder information to be easily accessible for better cooperation and collaboration among your team?
- Would having all your stakeholder information in one place be useful?
- What happens if you encounter challenging stakeholders? Do you need the ability to manage stakeholder issues and commitments to help reduce project risk?
- Will you be sharing reports? Would the ability to report on all your stakeholder information quickly be important for your team, your stakeholders or your decision-makers?
- Do you need to evaluate your stakeholder management efforts? Would updates, reports and analytics on your engagement efforts be valuable for you and your team?
If you are currently using spreadsheets and want to learn why an SRM is a better way to manage your stakeholder relationships, check out our blog!
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3. What Does Stakeholder Relationship Management Software Do?
Now that we know what Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) software is, let’s look at what it can do.
While SRMs can vary in their technological offerings, a quality SRM will have features that allow you to log and manage:
- Stakeholder contact information
- Stakeholder communication records
- Notes about your stakeholders
- Stakeholder issues
- Stakeholder commitments (other terms for commitments include accommodations, mitigations and promises)
- Tasks assigned to you and your team
- Maps of areas of interest or engagement locations
- Reports run on your inputted data
- Stakeholder contact information
The ability to easily access and search this stakeholder information is very beneficial, but it’s how your information all connects within an SRM that makes stakeholder relationship management software invaluable. This ability for all your information to connect is called traceability.
Traceability within an SRM is essential because it helps you understand how your information is linked together to help you build a fuller understanding of your stakeholders and your projects.
For example, with some SRMs, you can click on a stakeholder profile to access all previous engagement information, such as communications you’ve had with them, details of issues they were involved in, commitments you made to them or team tasks associated with them.
To learn more about the importance of traceability, check out our blog!
This history of engagement helps in many ways:
- Easily access stakeholder profiles and all connected information including communications, issues and commitments, so you are prepared when communicating with stakeholders (and are never blindsided in a stakeholder meeting)
- It can help you understand your stakeholder and make informed decisions on how best to engage next, which is critical when building trust and good relationships with your stakeholders
- It can allow you to show how stakeholder input has been used in decision making through the ability to report on the steps you took to address input
Below, we’ll dive into some SRM benefits.
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4. Example Benefits of an SRM
Benefits of an SRM can include:
- Audit trail: With an understandable audit-trail of your information, you always know where things left-off with stakeholders, and you always have access to your full, current records, which is a best practice when trying to lower risk.
- Build trust: Having your stakeholder information streamlined helps you better understand your projects and your stakeholders, empowering you and your team to engage more effectively, helping to build stakeholder trust and relationships. Whether you’re part of a change management process dealing with internal stakeholders or an engagement program with external stakeholders, trust is vital.
- Buy-in: The ability to share easy to understand project reports can help gain buy-in from decision-makers.
- Centralized and accessible: Having all your stakeholder engagement and consultation information connected in one platform makes your data accessible and searchable among teams (or for anyone with a user account).
- Cloud-based: With a secure cloud-based SRM, your software is accessible on-demand anywhere in the world via the internet, so you don’t need to always be in the office to access information and stay aware of updates.
- Collaboration: With centralized, up-to-date data, you can increase team collaboration. An SRM with task assignment capabilities allows you to assign tasks and see when tasks are completed for better transparency and accountability within your team.
- Commitment management: With the ability to track stakeholder commitments and with easy to understand status updates, you’ll never forget another commitment again, which helps to improve accountability and ensure compliance.
- Contact lists: The ability to quickly build lists of stakeholder contacts simplifies how you create mass communication campaigns like email and mailout campaigns.
- Email integration: Depending on the SRM, you can auto-log email communications to a specific project with stakeholders automatically via CC/BCC/FWD.
- Issues management: Easily understandable updates help you to monitor and manage any stakeholder issues through to an eventual resolution.
- Maps: Mapping capabilities offer visual references for locations of interest and areas of consultation.
- Mobile: With mobile capabilities, you can access the software while you’re on-the-go, which is useful after a stakeholder meeting when you want to quickly log your engagement.
- Overview: Access to high-level project overviews with dashboard analytics and reports helps you understand your project's size and status with just a glance.
- Reports: Run reports that illustrate engagement and consultation efforts to your team, stakeholders and decision-makers. This allows for better transparency and helps create a clearer understanding of your stakeholder's perspective, issues, commitments and engagement program overall.
- Lower risks: An SRM helps you reduce the risk to data loss and reduce project risk by helping you understand your current liabilities.
- Save time: With streamlined and easy to use SRM software, you’ll save a lot of time on the input and output process.
- Traceability: Having every communication, issue, commitment and task linked together helps you build a full understanding of your stakeholders and your projects very quickly.
Why are these Benefits Important?
With all these SRM capabilities you'll clear the way to:
- Collaborate more effectively with your team and stakeholders
- Lower project risks and liabilities
- Build more trust with your stakeholders
- Build more future-focused, meaningful stakeholder relationships
- Gain buy-in from decision-makers
- Work to find sustainable solutions
- Meet your legal requirements
- Build an accurate and up to date record of engagement with stakeholders
- Be more transparent with project plans
- Reach your stakeholder engagement goals
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5. SRM for Team Collaboration
When it comes to managing your stakeholder information and building good stakeholder relationships, team collaboration is essential.
Using an easy-to-use Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) software helps to ensure:
- Higher adoption rates: With an easy to use SRM, your team can be onboarded quickly, and adoption rates of the software will be higher. With the whole team using the SRM, you will help ensure you always have access to up-to-date stakeholder information (i.e. no more disorganized stakeholder data stored in spreadsheets, USBs or on desktops).
- Input consistency: Easy to use software with an easy input process can help make logging information consistent among teams. With consistent record keeping, your stakeholder data will be much more organized and understandable. This consistency is crucial for situations where legal authorities or decision-makers ask for reports of your engagement efforts. With an SRM, you'll be able to run clear and comprehensive reports quickly.
- Everyone is up to date: Using a cloud-based SRM means your team can access the system from anywhere with an internet connection. This means you can log records at any time, and other team members can access these records as soon as they are added. This means you always know what’s happening, what’s been communicated and what still needs to be done. Management can stay informed without having to ask for project updates, and you’ll remove the risk of forgetting to address an issue or commitment, which can help lower project risks.
- Better relationships: Depending on the complexity of a project, one organization can have many staff engaging at any one time. An SRM means you can interact with stakeholders using consistent messaging because you can access their previous engagement records (regardless of who on your team engaged last), which is an essential best practice for building and improving stakeholder relationships.
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6. Building Stakeholder Relationships with an SRM
As an organization, it's essential to remember when engaging with stakeholders, that it's not just about how you engage; it's what you do with that engagement information that can make a big difference.
You might wonder why it’s important to manage stakeholder relationships, and it’s because stakeholder relationships are important for your organization’s success.
Effective stakeholder management can impact how stakeholders perceive you and your organization. If stakeholders don’t trust your organization or aren’t willing to work with you or engage with you, this can affect your project’s success (we’ve all seen what can happen when the rumour-mill spirals out of control).
Now that we know why these relationships are essential, how do you build good stakeholder relationships?
Here are a few examples of how you can use an SRM to build stakeholder relationships:
- Prepare for meetings: Easily prepare for stakeholder meetings by quickly going through a stakeholder profile to learn what's been discussed previously, including any issues or commitments. Having this historical understanding can help you to engage more consistently, respectfully and transparently, which helps to build stakeholder trust.
- Run a variety of reports: Run visual project reports to share with stakeholders for better transparency and to help build understanding.
- Staying consistent with messaging: You can stay consistent in your messaging as you always know what’s been said by whom. Your ability to engage consistently will affect how people perceive your projects and their ability to trust your organization.
- Fulfilling commitments: Organize commitments according to priority and due date, so you always know which commitments still need to be fulfilled. Ensuring commitments are always addressed is one important way to build trust with your stakeholders.
- Notice the gaps: Dig into your inputted stakeholder data to find important gaps in your projects or programs. These gaps can include stakeholders who need to be followed up with, open issues, or monitoring your mapped areas of consultation and seeing areas where you need to engage more.
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7. SRM for Stakeholder Engagement
Your stakeholder engagement plan is a blueprint to help guide your stakeholder engagement efforts and includes identifying:
- Project goals
- Engagement goals
- Key stakeholders (try a stakeholder mapping exercise!)
- Engagement tactics
- Regulatory requirements
- Required resources
Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) software works with your stakeholder engagement plan, allowing you to work in a more streamlined and organized manner, which is vital when you need to meet deadlines, gain project buy-in, manage resources and show engagement efforts.
As your engagement efforts continue, the number of stakeholders involved may grow substantially, leaving you responsible for managing volumes of data that can quickly become disorganized, overwhelming you and your team.
An SRM will help you organize this data in an understandable and accessible way, allowing you and your team to stay on track with your plan.
A crucial component of a stakeholder engagement plan is the ability to be flexible and adjust as changes occur or stakeholder issues arise, especially as engagement expectations continue to change. With organized data and a collaborative engagement process, your ability to review and adjust your plan is much more manageable.
Examples of immediate benefits of using an SRM with your stakeholder engagement plan
- Centralized: An SRM allows you to store all your stakeholder information in one easy-to-find place, so you always have access to the most up-to-date information, regardless of how long your project remains open or how much information is collected.
- Trust: When stakeholder information is centralized and accessible, it empowers you and your team to engage respectfully, transparently and effectively with all your stakeholders. This ability to easily view and understand your information also ensures you can address and resolve stakeholder issues and commitments. This helps your stakeholders to view your organization as more engaged, knowledgeable and reliable, allowing you to build trust and better stakeholder relationships.
- Risk reduction: With your stakeholder information in an SRM, you bridge the gap between your teams, projects and programs, so that you know the history of engagement (i.e. all communications, issues, commitments and tasks) to fully understand what’s relevant and important as you move forward. This fuller understanding reduces your organization's chances of getting caught off guard, which is a significant risk management move.
Examples of future benefits of using an SRM with your stakeholder engagement plan
- Future-focused relationships: Dealing with issues and commitments tactfully and promptly helps ensure that your stakeholders know you take them seriously and increases the likelihood that they'll be willing to work with you again in the future.
- Future projects: Access your stakeholder lists to use in future projects and retain the history of engagement with them. Understanding the full history of engagement allows you to understand where you left off with stakeholders in previous projects, so you can continue to build meaningful relationships with them without having to start from scratch.
- Across project reporting: Many SRMs will enable you to run reports across projects, allowing you to showcase a deeper level of understanding of your organization's engagement efforts over time, which is useful to learn from, to gain buy-in from decision-makers and is a record-keeping best practice.
- History of engagement: Some SRMs allow you to quickly roll up your data and view your history of engagement with each stakeholder across all your projects and programs.
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8. SRM Alternatives
You might be wondering if there are other methods or tools for managing your stakeholder information and stakeholder engagement projects. When choosing a process for organizing your stakeholder engagement information, you want to make sure you're selecting the best option for your organization.
Spreadsheets for Stakeholder Engagement
While spreadsheets might seem like a good option at first, they’re not a sustainable solution if you want to build future-focused, long-term stakeholder relationships.
Spreadsheets can quickly become messy and complicated, which is problematic when you’re trying to organize and manage essential information. With your information in multiple spreadsheets, searching and cross-referencing information quickly becomes impossible, leaving your organization vulnerable to risks (i.e. inconsistent input methods, missing information etc.). For today's stakeholder engagement expectations, spreadsheets are a temporary solution.
Read our top ten reasons why spreadsheets aren’t the best option for managing your stakeholder engagement information.
CRM for Stakeholder Engagement
SRM vs CRM:
- SRM is ideal for managing stakeholder relationships and your history of engagement with these stakeholders
- CRM is a tool for managing customers and sales
For managing your stakeholder engagement and consultation, it doesn't make sense to use customer-focused software like a CRM; you're not selling to your stakeholders, you're engaging with them.
As an SRM is built for managing stakeholders, its unique workflows can help you manage your stakeholder information better than any other software tool.
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9. Stakeholder Relationship Management Software Security
While each SRM provider is unique, overall, SRMs are very secure and safe options for storing your stakeholder engagement information.
Look for an SRM with:
- Secure cloud collaboration: With secure, cloud-based SRM software, changes are virtually instant, which means you and your team always have access to the most accurate and relevant information and can also collaborate on records in real-time. Tip: ask the SRM vendor if your data is encrypted both at rest and in-transit for an added layer of security and peace of mind for you and your stakeholders.
- User-based permissions: An SRM with user-based permission options, allows account administrators to provide multi-level access to users. This is needed if you'd like to restrict access to things like financial information or confidential internal notes for certain users (i.e. contractors, intern, etc.). With user-based permissions, restricted data is never accessible on-screen or in a report to those without permission.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): An SRM with 2FA offers better security protection for accounts by requiring users to verify their login details by entering a passcode sent to the user's mobile phone via SMS text message. This enhanced security option makes it significantly harder for unauthorized persons to access user accounts and data, helping to keep your critical data protected and secure.
- Single Sign-On (SSO): Some enterprise customers require SSO. An SRM with SSO adds an additional layer of security and lets in-house IT teams easily manage access for staff using their existing tools and protocols.
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10. When Should You Adopt Stakeholder Relationship Management Software?
Watch for these signs that it’s time to adopt an SRM:
- The volume of stakeholder information that needs to be managed is becoming overwhelming
- A team member has left a stakeholder issue unaddressed and you don’t want this to happen again
- You got blindsided in a meeting with a stakeholder by not knowing all the facts like existing issues, commitments or communications with the stakeholder
- A team member is leaving the project and you’ll have no way of accessing their previous engagements with stakeholders
- Your team has forgotten to fulfill a stakeholder commitment
- Your stakeholder engagement information is scattered in different places and you need a central location to store it
- Your team is avoiding inputting communication records because the current process is confusing or too time-consuming
- You are unsure of your current project commitments and liabilities
- If a regulatory body asked you to run a report that shows all the stakeholder engagement that occurred during a project, you’re not confident that could be done quickly and easily (or at all)
- You need to track engagement with stakeholders to fulfil corporate social responsibility mandates or to align with your sustainability requirements and reporting
If you're worried about transforming how you manage your day-to-day stakeholder engagement activities from spreadsheets to stakeholder relationship management software, check out our eBook, 'The Step-by-Step Guide to Say Goodbye to Spreadsheets.'
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11. How Do You Pick Stakeholder Relationship Management Software?
Not all SRMs are designed or supported the same. Software that works for one organization might not be the right option for another, so taking the time to review and select the best stakeholder relationship management software for your organization is key.
- Goals: Define your project and engagement goals and evaluate a software’s ability to achieve these goals
- Buy-in: Identify who needs to buy-in to the software and what kind of information is required to make this happen
- Pain points: Talk with your team and gather their opinions on what they would like to see in an SRM software. Discuss how an SRM can help make their job easier and what weaknesses in the current stakeholder engagement management efforts could be eased with SRM software.
Struggles might include:
- The time it takes to log records
- Consistency of records logged
- Inability to know if the data is up to date
- Unsure what your team is working on
- Current input process is too confusing
- The volume of stakeholder data is overwhelming
- Missing stakeholders’ issues and commitments
- Research: Make a list of all your must-haves and nice-to-haves and research your SRM software options. Once you have your list, reach out to SRM vendors and schedule a demo. A demo is the easiest way to see how the SRM software can provide value to your organization.
- Select the best SRM for your organization: Once you’ve identified what your organization requires from an SRM and you’ve narrowed down your options, consider these four tips for picking the best SRM for your organization:
- Choose software made for managing stakeholders and stakeholder engagement
- Choose software that makes team collaboration easy
- Choose future-focused software that values user input
- Select software that helps limit risk
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12. The Best Stakeholder Relationship Management Software
Every benefit and feature we’ve mentioned in this blog is available in our comprehensive Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM) software, Jambo, so it’s a great place for you to start your SRM research.
To see how Jambo can help your organization streamline and simplify your stakeholder engagement efforts, sign up for a free live-web demo in a no-pressure environment.
Talk to you soon!