Back in 2012, global non-profit BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) published a 'back to basics' guide to stakeholder engagement. Reading it again in 2015, the title of the final section seems particularly relevant: Engagement is Ever-Changing.
The guide urged organisations to recognise that engaging stakeholders is a constantly evolving practice. It concluded with three tricky questions regarding the future of stakeholder engagement that BSR was attempting to tackle at the time. It seems to me that in the three years since, cloud tools have emerged as an increasingly credible and cost-effective solution to each of these problems.
Here, we'll look at each of the questions in turn to explore how cloud collaboration tools like Kahootz are being used by companies and public sector organisations to support agile, data-rich stakeholder strategies. (Don't forget to check out more of the BSR's work on stakeholder engagement here.)
"If your company interacts with a large number of other entities … how do you incorporate competing requests into a cohesive overall strategy?"
The size and diversity of stakeholder groups can be one of the biggest challenges for organisations. However, cloud workspaces make it easier to manage stakeholder activity by providing a central hub for all announcements, conversations and consultation exercises.
With a cloud collaboration tool like Kahootz, organisations don't need to select different tools or lines of communication to engage different groups. However, they can create specific workspaces for particular projects or issues - and invite relevant groups or individuals to contribute when necessary. This way, the burden of collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders can be greatly reduced, but every activity retains its focus and purpose.
"How do you capture all the information streaming into your company? And how do you distill the information to note trends and develop strategies around them?"
Not all cloud collaboration tools have built-in data analysis and reporting functions. Those that are best suited to stakeholder engagement activities do, because they enable users to shape and refine their engagement strategies based on the data created by every interaction.
In Kahootz, it's easy to create reports by organising data into graphs and other formats. This means data collected from stakeholders using questionnaires within the tool can also be analysed and formatted for presentation in the tool - there's no need for separate reporting software. The data capture and reporting functions also make it straightforward to monitor usage patterns, so you can see exactly how and when stakeholders are interacting with your workspace.
"Stakeholders now have the means to challenge your strategy almost instantaneously. How can you manage a strategy in this dynamic environment?"
The cloud provides an opportunity for organisations to be agile - to move quickly and respond immediately when new challenges arise. That's why an increasing number of organisations are using cloud environments to support their stakeholder engagement plans. They know that additional resources will be available immediately in the cloud when project priorities change or a sudden spike in demand occurs.
Kahootz online workspaces are highly adaptable because they are designed to support agile organisations. That means they're built to suit the demands of dynamic, fast-changing working environments. Users can quickly deploy and then repurpose their cloud workspace as a project moves through different phases, instead of selecting, installing and then training people to use a different piece of software each time.
Let's take a typical procurement exercise as an example. A wide range of stakeholders are likely to be involved - each with different levels of interest, engagement and influence according to the stage of the project. In a tool like Kahootz, you can bring these stakeholders together and tightly control access permissions to ensure no confidential data is shared where it shouldn't be. But there's also no need to replicate or reapply your security precautions across several platforms or channels. The initial bidders' workspace can be repurposed into a shared space for final contract negotiations, and then again into a project management area or client portal to support delivery.