A good project tends to have people termed as stakeholders who are connected having the urge to know exactly the progress and any issue that erupts during the project’s execution. The modern projects undertaken today do have several stakeholders who are spread all over the globe. Therefore, my role as a project stakeholders and communication manager at the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society matters a lot in the success of the initiated project by the title “Elephant Walk Thru”.
As the project stakeholder and communication manager under the supervision of Chandeep Corea in the area of stakeholder management and communications much is realized on the aspect of coming up with a formal stakeholder communications plan that would enable an effective interaction leading to the success of the project as anticipated by the organization. through the process of undertaking a formal stakeholder communications plan much must be noted by the stakeholders on the importance of the project that would enable them to have an urge or rather interest to deep immensely on the project(Dinerstein et al. 2013).
The project which is titled elephant walk thru to a broader perspective has much significant in that being an ecotourism project, it has the meaning of integrating wildlife conservation, human development, and economic development as well. Also, the success of the project will ensure there is continuity of what is known as community-based wildlife conservation in Sri-Lanka. The other importance of the project is that it will provide tourists or guests with a personal and a very close range experience. It is also noted that the project to some extent will be in apposition of providing the guess with facilities such as four-wheel drive vehicles, cold and hot water facilities, quality beverages as well as experienced tour guides and trackers(Kerzner, 2013).
All these services put together are bound to the goals and objectives of the organization which are such as contribution to the long term conservations and protection of elephant, which also includes the conflict between human and elephant. The other goal that will be achieved is the use of a highly trained people within the locality with the help of conservationists and scientists to collect data on the available local elephants. The other objective as stated by the Sri-Lanka wildlife conservation society that will be achieved is the point of increasing knowledge, awareness, economic well-being as well as skills of the local people(Dinerstein et al. 2013).
As the project stakeholder and communications manager under my task of putting together a formal stakeholder and communication plan, first, I have to undertake a thorough identification of both the internal and external stakeholders that would include positional relationship as well as the dimension of involvements to the project. Under the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society as a project stakeholder and communications manager, I came to identify several stakeholders who amongst them includes the villagers, tourists, Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society and the related constituents, and other nature-based initiatives in Asia as well(Fernando, 2015).
For me as the project stakeholder and communications manager, i have to take into account the project’s fundamentals which incorporate project internals, project externals as well as integrating concepts. Under the internal factors I am tied to the function management, service employees, sponsors as well as the team to undertake the particular duties or rather tasks to meet the goals of the project. On the other hand, on the external factors that will guide me in identifying the respective stakeholders are such as the customers, suppliers, the government, the community, the media as well as the competitor who stands to play a crucial role in the success of the project(Kerzner, 2013).
After the identification of both the internal and external stakeholders as have stated above who are the community or the village, customers and the employees amongst others it becomes crucial to undertake what is termed as stakeholder analysis. The reason as to why stakeholder analysis is of great significant in our case is that as the project and communication manager I will be in a better position to know and understand the interest of all the involved stakeholders who will both affect and get affected by the undertaking of the project(Fernando, 2015).
Second is the information source concerning the requirements of the project, the groups as well as the individuals that should be encouraged to take responsibilities in various parts of the project such as the expertise and support. The other reason as to why the analysis of the stakeholders is of great importance is the aspect of getting the ways of mitigating the negative impacts that might affect the project. Lastly is the point of creating appropriate approaches and strategies for the engagement of the stakeholders and the occurrence of conflicts that might lead to the failure of the project(Fernando, 2015).
The other aspect that also should go hand in hand with the stakeholder analysis is the stakeholder mapping. The stakeholder mapping as much as the project is concerned will try to give the project management team the opportunity of coming up with the most appropriate communication plan that will enhance the interaction between the different stakeholders in the project. The factors that are taken into account under the stakeholders mapping are such as the methods of communication incorporating meetings, holding conferences as well as making phone calls which can be either daily, hourly, quarterly and weekly(Fernando, 2015). If the stakeholder’s interest is high, it is noted that one would want to talk with him or her regularly than one who has the low interest towards the project. For instance, as the project stakeholder and communication manager, I would like to take much of my time to engage in a communication with the stakeholder with both the highest interest and power in that he or she can influence other stakeholders whose interest is low towards the success of the project(Fernando, 2015).
After undergoing all these processes or rather step that is the identification of both the internal and external stakeholders, stakeholder analysis and the stakeholder mapping it is now more appropriate to come up with the stakeholder communication plan(Dinerstein et al. 2013).
Therefore, as the project and communication manager under the elephant walk thru project, to achieve the anticipated project I had to undertake various steps including, developing the objectives of the communication, creating the key messages for the project. Prioritizing and defining the key stakeholders who in other terms are referred to as the targeted audiences(Kerzner, 2013). The other steps are setting other key messages that are more relevant to each stakeholder, creating the most efficient communication tactics for each audience. Lastly, the steps that follow are such as the allocation of the proposed budget, setting the quarterly communication calendar as well as doing an assessment of the prospective results and plan adoption(Fernando, 2015).
The first step as articulated which is the creation of communications’ objectives stands to be the most important step. In that, all the objectives of communication must be clearly stated and should support the project’s aims and goals. As noted from the ongoing project, the communication’s objectives should be SMART, in that it should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and also time-bond. For instance, in the ongoing project the communication goals or objectives I came to set a side are such as “by the end of the project initiation the stakeholders will be in a position of getting the better part of our project and give the support to the anticipated goals of Sri-Lanka wildlife conservation services (SLWCS) for the coming years(Dinerstein et al. 2013).
The second step that is developing fundamental messages for the project. as noted from the previous projects, that conflicting messages lead to the creation of confusion, and therefore, there is much need to articulate and define the key messages that will be repeatedly used in all aspects of communication while undertaking the project binding all the stakeholders(Fernando, 2015). These messages need to be well understood by the stakeholders to the latter, being a project stakeholder and communication manager various things are very important to note about the project such as the project to a greater extent will quencher the interests of the targeted group as well as the economy. The second thing that needs to be talked about in creation of key message is what the project aims to achieve in the short run and in the long run. An example of the message that I came up with is that the elephant walking thru project is on its toes working towards the achievement of an international recognition of Sri-Lanka wildlife conservation services (SLWCS)(Fernando, 2015).
The third step is defining as well as prioritizing my key stakeholders. as the project stakeholder and communication manager, I am obliged to consider those individuals who play a critical role in ensuring the project succeeds. For example, in my case I used the following procedure in coming up with the most appropriate communication plan and these are as follows, highest priority stakeholders, strong priority, lesser priority as well as low priority(Fernando, 2015).
The next step is the aspect of key messages to every stakeholder. After prioritization of the stakeholders, there is a great need for some key messages one need to develop to pass on their specific concerns. The aim of this step is ensuring that the message is relevant to the specified group of stakeholders. The fifth step is the creation of tactics for each group of the prioritized stakeholder. At this stage, as the communications manager, there is the opportunity of being creative, in that I will look at the interested parties and note when and what time is the best to engage with him or her. By taking this aspect into consideration to a broader perspective the interaction between the stakeholders will be more efficient(Kerzner, 2013).
The sixth step is the budget allocation and the responsibilities as well. This step already suggests that one already knows what he or she is going to do and when he or she will do it. For me as the project stakeholder and communications manager to achieve this, I am obliged to ensure that there are specific owners for each activity under communication. For example, in cases of conferences or events, there might be various stakeholders trying hard to work on it, but there is one individual who seems to be the owner, who is also responsible and accountable for its progress. Lastly is the aspect of creating a quarterly communications calendar. The quarterly communications schedule is purposed to give an at a glance list of all concepts that needs to be achieved in the communications plan, by who and when(Dinerstein et al. 2013).
From the above discussion much is noted on the roles of the project stakeholder and communications manager. The project stakeholder and communications managers much is required such as identification of both the internal and external stakeholders including positional relationship and dimension of involvement. Also, the aspect of stakeholder analysis takes the most important part as one of the roles of the project stakeholder and communications manager.
Dinerstein, E., Varma, K., Wikramanayake, E., Powell, G., Lumpkin, S., Naidoo, R., … &Joldersma, D. (2013). Enhancing conservation, ecosystem services, and local livelihoods through a wildlife premium mechanism. Conservation Biology, 27(1), 14-23.
Fernando, P. (2015). Managing elephants in Sri Lanka: where we are and where we need to be. Ceylon Journal of Science (Biological Sciences), 44(1).
Kerzner, H. R. (2013). Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. John Wiley & Sons.