Many medium and large companies have a significant – if not astronomical – number of stakeholders. Whether these stakeholders are internal (executives, managers, shareholders, etc.) or external to the organization (users, government, interest groups, etc.), the number of people involved can multiply exponentially as large-scale projects are carried out. For example, infrastructure construction projects occur over several stages, and different requirements at each stage mean working with different individuals and groups. To keep track of these many relationships, organizations need to create a database, often called a stakeholder register.
Fortunately, companies can see significant benefits by centralizing stakeholder data and adopting efficient data management practices. However, some of the solutions available for this purpose are better than others. Organizations can create a stakeholder register as a spreadsheet (Excel), on a collaborative platform (Sharepoint), or using a CRM system, but in terms of efficiency and functionality the best option is stakeholder management software, which was designed specifically for this purpose.
What is a stakeholder register?
A stakeholder register is the result of identifying and analyzing the actors who have an influence or interest in a project, or who may be affected by it. Once stakeholders have been added to the register, additional information can be collected to create a more complete profile for each person, for example, their interests, concerns, attitudes, location, etc.
Why do projects and organizations need a stakeholder register?
Any large project can involve hundreds or thousands of stakeholders. These relationships must be assessed, monitored, and managed carefully, because stakeholder participation can determine a project’s success or failure. Engagement teams need to have access to complete, accurate and up-to-date information to inform their efforts. A stakeholder register is an essential tool for managing these many, complex relationships.
Challenges to be addressed
Ideally, organizations seeking to implement a stakeholder register want it to help address the challenges they face.
Comply with rules and standards
Large-scale projects must follow certain rules and standards. For example, in Canada, a renewable energy developer seeking approval to use federal seabed may be required to report on consultations with First Nations communities and the accommodations agreed to by the parties involved. This is simple – if the data is managed well.
The same is true if an incident occurs near a pipeline and the authorities require evidence that the company diligently communicated safety instructions to the people affected.
Create a lasting corporate memory
A stakeholder database is undoubtedly an important part of a company’s corporate memory. It’s essential in situations where projects take place over a number of years, or where they change hands – for example, from a consulting or exploration company to a mining company. A carefully documented corporate memory is incredibly valuable to the people who come on board, as it provides context and historical data that will save them time and help them avoid missteps.
Track the evolution of interactions and communications
A rigorously maintained stakeholder database provides information on the status of interactions with stakeholders and the progress of issues affecting them, individually or generally.
Speed up response times
Relevant information available in a few clicks can make the difference between an accurate, timely response and an ambiguous answer delivered after a long delay – which is likely to cause frustration and discouragement.
In the event of a field emergency, a stakeholder register contains contact information for all individuals and groups that need to be notified, both of the event and of the actions that need to be taken immediately.
How do traditional databases compare to modern information management systems?
Traditional stakeholder databases (Excel spreadsheets, collaborative platforms, and customized CRMs) are designed to store data, rather than to manage information efficiently. A modern stakeholder register offers several practical features that help organizations build and maintain relationships and establish trust with stakeholders.
What are the weaknesses of traditional databases?
Unfortunately, many companies still use inadequate tools to create and maintain a stakeholder register. Traditional databases can be of some use, especially when there’s not a lot of data to manage. But for large-scale projects, these solutions do not meet the necessary requirements to serve as an efficient and secure data management system.
In traditional stakeholder databases, the protection of confidential information is not guaranteed. Data can be copied, modified, manipulated, or even deleted – accidentally or intentionally – without a trace. In fact, this may go completely unnoticed.
The lack of quality control features, particularly in spreadsheets, compromises data quality. This can have serious – and potentially costly – consequences. A study published in the Journal of Organizational and End User Computing concluded that 88% of spreadsheets contain errors, and some spectacular errors have cost companies millions and even billions of dollars. And, of course, a small change to a spreadsheet can throw different versions of the document out of sync, obliterating the single source of truth. This reduces the value of the entire data set.
Spreadsheets hinder effective collaboration. Overwritten or duplicated files, incomplete data, and inaccessible documents can all be problematic for users working with this type of stakeholder database. It’s not possible to tell who did what in the document, for example, who last modified the information about a specific stakeholder.
As for collaborative platforms, they do offer more possibilities than spreadsheets. Unfortunately, beyond their ability to store data, they’re rather useless when it comes to seeing the bigger picture or analyzing data to draw conclusions. In emergency situations when you need to quickly identify and contact the affected people in your stakeholder register, this can be a serious problem.
Companies that attempt to customize a CRM for stakeholder management often find themselves investing significant time and money in the project, only to end up with a tool that proves ineffective for managing stakeholder relationships.
Why invest in modern tools to manage your stakeholder register?
The modern, fit-for-purpose tools dedicated to stakeholder relationship management (SRM) – more commonly referred to as a stakeholder management tool, system, or software – go well beyond simple data storage. They centralize data to ensure that everyone has access to relevant information, reduce the time and effort required to create reports, and increase data security. A good SRM system will:
Simplify data management
- Ensure that everyone has access to the same information, a single source of truth.
- Facilitate the rapid transmission of information (about an event, conversation, decision, etc.).
- Permit the organization to assign access rights to each user based on their specific needs.
- Integrate with external tools (collaborative platforms, email software, GIS databases, etc.).
- Simplify data analysis and reporting.
Allow you to make clear, informed decisions, develop proactive strategies, and protect business reputation
- Map stakeholders according to their influence, interests, and other relevant criteria.
- Provide a comprehensive, global view of important information, so you can quickly take action when needed.
- Respond quickly and thoroughly to questions and concerns, ensuring stakeholder satisfaction.
Help conserve resources
- Access necessary information available quickly and efficiently to avoid misunderstandings, repetition, oversights and other time-consuming nuisances.
- Automate manual tasks related to mobilization work.
- Simplify data entry.
Ultimately, any stakeholder management software worthy of the name should help proactively identify potential concerns and issues, then effectively address and resolve them. It should help the organization reach the highest level of data management maturity, that of strategic performance.
Features to look for when purchasing a tool to manage your stakeholder register
Of all the qualities stakeholder management software should possess, a few stand out.
First and foremost, organizations need a platform that is intuitive and comprehensive, easy to feed and operate, and most importantly, easy to integrate into their daily operations. SRM software is designed to automate manual work and optimize processes, so that no one needs to continually perform repetitive tasks. The system must also have the ability to ensure the security of corporate data. After all, no one wants to be responsible for the loss or theft of sensitive information.
In addition to meeting all of the criteria described above, Borealis software stands out thanks to its integration and data protection features.
Add-ons for email software
In order to lighten your workload, Borealis offers an Outlook add-in and a Gmail add-on. These helpful tools allow users to transfer emails and events directly to Borealis, greatly reducing the risk of transcription errors when saving information from one system to the other. Moreover, these add-ons provide a level of security equal to that of the software itself.
Borealis offers a convenient mobile application which is especially useful for people who are constantly on the move to meet with stakeholders. The mobile app:
- provides access to all information saved in the software. Data is easy to locate and modify, and it’s just as simple to enter new information (communications, individual or organizational records, follow-up tasks, etc.).
- reduces the risk of oversights since information can be entered in your stakeholder database without delay.
- allows users to create new records for people they meet by simply taking a photo of their business card, attach photos to files (evidence of a complaint, photos of people to help recognize them when you see them again), and record voice notes.
Borealis contains a Geographic Information System (GIS) and mapping function. Users can import infrastructure data, cross-reference corporate assets with the stakeholder register, and integrate other GIS web services with Borealis to overlay social and environmental data.
To make data collection even easier, organizations can connect Borealis to a GIS data system, CRM, SAP, and many other tools using the Borealis API. This guarantees data integrity, because any changes in the original system will be automatically updated in Borealis. This is particularly helpful when you need to manage continually changing lists, for example, elected officials, researchers, etc.
Borealis servers are installed in Tier 3 certified data centers. All data is duplicated in real time in an off-site disaster recovery center to ensure that your data remains safe and accessible. Systems and infrastructure are monitored 24 hours a day.
All data collected in Borealis is treated as confidential by default, ensuring absolute protection. Data is encrypted using the most up-to-date methods available, and access is limited on a need-to-know basis. We follow best practices for cloud data encryption.
We safeguard data that is ‘in use’ (being created, updated, viewed or deleted), ‘on the move’ (in transit), and ‘at rest’ (stored in your database) to ensure its protection no matter where it is in the system. This is particularly important when ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policies are in effect.
Borealis offers a reliable audit trail to ensure that all activities in the system are recorded and fully traceable. This feature is essential for compliance with data privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The software also allows you to establish multiple levels of access control that can be assigned by role or group, as well as by project, campaign, or communication.
Stakeholder engagement is more important than ever, and the benefits of adopting a stakeholder management system are clear. As stakeholder management practices continue to evolve through professionalization, investing in fit-for-purpose tools makes sense. While an ordinary database offers some of the necessary capabilities, it won’t be able to compete with specialized software developed for these needs.
Key points to remember
- A stakeholder database isn’t just necessary to keep track of interactions with your stakeholders, it can also help you meet legal requirements.
- Different types of stakeholder databases are not created equal. While traditional stakeholder registers help manage information, more sophisticated systems allow for proactive, social risk mitigation and help create better relationships.
- While more traditional databases may be appropriate for small amounts of data, large-scale projects require a much more capable data management system.
- A stakeholder relationship management system is an investment. By facilitating access to up-to-date data and offering practical tools, it minimizes frustration and saves time.
Borealis offers a complete range of modules and features to meet the needs of large projects. Contact us today to schedule a personalized demonstration. Talk to an Expert >