How to Define and Engage Your Stakeholders

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How to Define and Engage Your Stakeholders

Editor’s note: What good is knowledge about parking and its technology if you don’t know the folks depending on you to provide that information? Plus, how about vendors? How should you approach them to get the best information from them? If you are buying technology in the next two years, don’t miss this session at PIE 2015. JVH
Do you have an RFP coming out soon? Have you engaged all of the affected parties? Do you have a parking problem downtown that requires input from multiple groups? Is it difficult to get the information and participation levels that you need?
Identifying the key stakeholders is a crucial component of a successful parking program. This PIE 2015 session will focus on how to identify who needs to be involved, how to extract the information that you need, and retain their ongoing involvement throughout the project.
(The 2015 Parking Industry Exhibition, sponsored by Parking Today, will be March 29-April 1 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL.)
This session will outline how to spread the word, where to hold the meetings to maximize attendance, and how to be an effective moderator. It will review case studies that include project experience and examples of an effective level of stakeholder engagement.
This presentation will be broken into two sections:
1- Identifying key stakeholders to develop feedback for a particular municipal program.
2- Identifying and engaging vendors to be included in the RFP process.
First, you need to know who your stakeholders are. A stakeholder can be anyone from an individual, a group or an organization with an interest or concern about the initiative or engagement you are pursuing.
Your stakeholders can vary depending on the issue at hand. If you are buying a new handheld, for example, your stakeholder may be a parking enforcement officer. If you are developing a downtown parking plan, a stakeholder could be an employee or resident of that area.
Community and stakeholder input is a crucial part of any municipal program. Due to the often contentious nature of parking programs, identifying the correct stakeholders, and keeping them engaged throughout the process, is even more important and will significantly improve the success of the program.
Coordination with stakeholders will also be crucial for both inputs into the process and also buy-in on the recommendations and incremental changes that will ensue. Taking a leadership role in the process is necessary to establish a public involvement strategy. This should ensure inclusion and transparency, and involve a range of stakeholders in order to learn their viewpoints on the relevant issues.
A carefully managed community engagement plan should be created in order to prioritize and capture input. Initially, individual and group meetings should be held with each community group, but engagement and interaction should not end at this point. The community should receive progress updates and have the opportunity to review the final recommendations from the city.
By continuing to engage community members and soliciting their ideas or concepts for consideration, the project at hand is more likely to be openly and readily received by the city administration due to the stakeholder support and investment.
Second, how do you identify vendors to be included within the RFP process, and how do you keep them engaged?
When writing an RFP, it’s necessary to write a specification that includes the city’s current needs (“must-haves”), customizations, future goals, and “wish-list” items. Once the city is able to capture what its technology roadmap truly looks like, draft an RFP that’s inclusive of multiple vendors at its core, so that the city is able to experience an appropriate level of vendor responsiveness.
Relying on comparable cities that have gone through a similar process is a perfect starting point for a baseline RFP. After developing the core must-haves and identifying the customizations, future goals and wish-list items, engaging vendors to comment on the draft of the RFP before its release allows for the individuals who are the experts on the topic to address specifications that may have been missed or may need to be removed or adjusted.
Note that during this process, one must be careful not to include vendor-specific verbiage, which in turn may exclude certain companies. By engaging vendors early on in the process, you are more likely to have fewer complaints and protests.
Vendors typically approach customizations and future goals in their own, company-specific way. Therefore, allowing multiple vendors to be compliant to the must-haves brings them to the table to truly demonstrate how one vendor distinguishes itself from the crowd via customizations and “future-proofing” technology.
Whether you are identifying appropriate vendors to be included in RFP discussions or seeking key participants to develop feedback for a particular municipal plan, identifying your stakeholders is an integral step in any successful program.
Learn how to increase and retain your stakeholder engagement at this PIE 2015 session.

Contact David Cooker, Senior Associate of Dixon Resources Unlimited, at david@dixonresourcesunlimited.com.
For more information on PIE 2015, the Parking Industry Exhibition, set for March 29-April 1 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL (Chicago) and sponsored by Parking Today, go to
http://pieshow.parkingtoday.com.
 

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David Cooker
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