Why do Stakeholder Lists Matter, and Who is Responsible?

Knowledge of who your stakeholders are and how to contact them is imperative to any organisation, yet this is one area, in my experience, that organisations do poorly.

Stakeholder lists or databases are often managed by individual divisions or teams who know their stakeholders and have regular contact with them. This approach works well, however it requires a unified approach with corporate goals in mind.

In reality, divisions or teams don’t always communicate with each other, and the result is a plethora of lists with varying degrees of information spread across one organisation.

Lists which are managed in silos tend to be technically incompatible and often mismanaged. Problems include out-of-date and missing information, and the wrong information.

I worked for an organisation which had around 15 stakeholder lists across several divisions, all prepared in different programs and containing various categories of information. Some were more detailed and accurate than others. They were totally incompatible.

When I was asked to distribute a corporate newsletter it became apparent that we would have to build an entire stakeholder database from scratch, even though most of the information existed in some form.

The cost to the organisation was high.

This experience showed me that is important to have a team that is accountable for managing a comprehensive corporate stakeholder list – one that is accurate and can be relied on.

This could mean managing a process to upkeep lists across divisions by providing a template or centralised database, or developing and managing a central list. It depends on the size of the organisation and resources available.

Who is responsible? This task often falls back to the corporate communications area, but I’ve seen a corporate list managed by the office of the CEO, the HR department, and IT department.

It doesn’t matter where the list is managed, as long as the process is understood.

Whatever choice is made, a well-managed, accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive stakeholder database will ensure that an organisation can communicate with its stakeholders more effectively, and ultimately save time and money.