We all remember our experience working our first “adult job,” you know, the one we go to college in hopes to become qualified enough to get. For me, that happened in May 2012, and the position was as Business Development Assistant for a fast growing SMB called Boréalis. When I told family and friends I turned down a job for a multinational that makes plane engines to take this position in an IT company that develops stakeholder engagement software, their first concern was: “What’s stakeholder engagement anyway? Why do people need a software to carry it out?” 2 very good questions I was not able to answer at that time. First reason being I did not completely understand the concept myself. Plus, it’s a pretty complex topic, and my being green to both IT and stakeholder engagement was not helping. To help people understand, I used an example many people can relate to explain the concept: I compared it to Customer Relationship Management. Of course stakeholder and customer management are similar concepts, but they’re far from being the same. The same goes for stakeholder engagement vs. customer relationship management software. I’d say it’s like comparing a toothbrush and a hairbrush. Although they’re both brushes, don’t try using one for the purpose of the other.
Starting with the Basics: Customer vs. Stakeholder
“A party that receives or consumes products (goods or services) and has the ability to choose between different products and suppliers.”On the other hand, a stakeholder is, according to the IFC’s Stakeholder Engagement: A Good Practice Handbook for Companies Doing Business in Emerging Markets:
“Stakeholders are persons or groups who are directly or indirectly affected by a project, as well as those who may have interests in a project and/or the ability to influence its outcome, either positively or negatively. Stakeholders may include locally affected communities or individuals and their formal and informal representatives, national or local government authorities, politicians, religious leaders, civil society organizations and groups with special interests, the academic community, or other businesses.”Just looking at the definitions highlights the different levels of complexity that apply to stakeholders. While customers generally have interest in buying a product/service and decision-making power, stakeholders don’t have to be interested in a project for it to have an impact on them, and they sometimes have decision-making power about it. The opposite is also true: a group of stakeholders could be highly interested in a project and yet have little to no saying in it. Even if the project means they have to relocate. But that’s a whole other issue in itself.
Managing Different Relationships, Built for Different Purposes
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Boréalis online stakeholder engagement software is used by organizations around the world to successfully engage stakeholders and secure social license to operate in a wide range of industry sectors. To request a free custom demo of our software, contact us.