Stakeholder Engagement

Engagement refers to the processes in which agencies, stakeholders and the general community are invited to contribute to the development and implementation of strategy, policies, programs and services.

Preparing for effective engagement: A guide to developing engagement plans

Why was this guide prepared?

This guide has been prepared to help the Strategic Initiatives and Performance (SIP) Group prepare for effective engagement with community, internal and external stakeholders. SIP Group projects will require building stronger community and stakeholder mandates for reform in industry, regulation, policy and government performance projects.

Securing a mandate for reform through effective engagement is critical to the successful delivery of the SIP Group’s priority projects.

The guide has been prepared with a focus on the strategic elements of planning a project based engagement. It assumes an understanding of the meaning of terms such as objectives, stakeholder and community. It links to the SIP project management methodology, refers to the 2009 Consultation Policy of the Better Regulation Office and assumes knowledge of both documents. It is intended to build on the considerable base of experience that exists in the SIP Group.

What is effective engagement?

Engagement encompasses a wide variety of interactions, both formal and informal. These range from information sharing to more active consultation through to collaboration in government decision making processes. The amount of influence communities and stakeholders have on decision making increases in accordance with the level of engagement. Responsibility for final decision remains with government.

Effective engagement allows government agencies to tap into diverse perspectives and new solutions to improve the quality of its decisions. Effective engagement is open, transparent and participatory. It has the potential to create connections between government agencies, communities and stakeholders that enable communities and stakeholders to better understand the processes of government and the reasons for proposed strategy and reform. This can build greater consensus and mandates for change that are more sustainable than when government alone drives these agendas.

How should this guide be used?

This guide is structured to assist staff with the thinking and decision making processes associated with preparing an engagement plan, with a focus on planning and evaluation rather than the delivery of engagement.

A contents page for a project based comprehensive engagement plan is at Appendix A. The guide is structured to step through each section of this comprehensive engagement plan; each numbered section of the guide relates to the same numbered section of the contents page for the engagement plan. Each section of the guide contains questions and commentary to assist in the thinking and decision making process required to prepare each section of the engagement plan. There are also examples and background information, and links to websites, contained in attachments, which further assist in the preparation of engagement plans.

It is not intended that every engagement plan for every project would require all sections to be completed. Rather, each engagement plan should be tailored to suit the needs of the project.