The Failure and the Future of Accounting: Strategy, Stakeholders, and Business Value

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Stakeholder analysis also called stakeholder mapping will help you decide which stakeholders might have the most influence over the success or failure of your effort, which might be your most important supporters, and which might be your most important opponents. Once you have that information, you can make plans for dealing with stakeholders with different interests and different levels of influence. Beneficiaries, policy makers, etc. Traffic restrictions to control speeding in residential neighborhoods may affect commuters that use public transportation.

Try to think of as many ways as possible that your effort might bring benefits or problems to people not directly in its path. Given that, there are a number of ways to identify stakeholders. Often, the use of more than one will yield the best results.


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Even among stakeholders from the same group, there may be conflicting concerns. Some of the many ways that stakeholder interests may manifest themselves:. A classic case is that of the conflict between open space preservation and the opportunity to sell land for development. Farmers and other rural residents often have almost no other assets but their land. If, by selling it, they can become instant millionaires and live comfortably in retirement after working very hard for very little all their lives, why should they be expected to pass up that opportunity in favor of open space preservation?

In some U. Conservation easements — agreements never to develop the land, no matter how many owners it goes through — sometimes are negotiated on the same basis. The jobs of police, teachers, therapists, medical personnel, and others can be changed by changes in laws, regulations, or policy. Reporting requirements for child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and other types of crimes may affect the work of teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists, and others.

Most stakeholders will be more than willing to tell you how they feel about a potential or ongoing effort, what their concerns are, and what needs to be done or to change to address those concerns. Now what? They all have to understand what you want to do, you have to respond to their concerns in some way — at least by acknowledging them, whether you can satisfy them or not — and you have to find a way to move forward with as much support from stakeholders as you can muster.

Stakeholder Importance and Influence

Stakeholder analysis stakeholder mapping is a way of determining who among stakeholders can have the most positive or negative influence on an effort, who is likely to be most affected by the effort, and how you should work with stakeholders with different levels of interest and influence. Most methods of stakeholder analysis or mapping divide stakeholders into one of four groups, each occupying one space in a four-space grid:. As you can see, low to high influence over the effort runs along a line from the bottom to the top of the grid, and low to high interest in the effort runs along a line from left to right.

Both influence and interest can be either positive or negative, depending on the perspectives of the stakeholders in question. The lines describing them are continuous, meaning that people can have any degree of interest from none to as high as possible, including any of the points in between. That knowledge in turn can help you decide how to manage stakeholders — how to marshal the help of those that support you, how to involve those who could be helpful, and how to convert — or at least neutralize — those who may start out feeling negative.

An assumption that most proponents of this analysis technique seem to make is that the stakeholders most important to the success of your effort are in the upper right section of the grid, and those least important are in the lower left. The names in parentheses are another way to define the same stakeholder characteristics in terms of how they relate to the effort. The World Bank, which is responsible for this characterization, couches it in generally positive terms, assuming that those in the upper right will promote the effort.

In fact, they could be either promoters or staunch opponents, and the same — with different degrees of power and interest — goes for the other three sections of the grid. In many cases, there will be people in both camps in each quadrant, and among the tasks of the organization s conducting the effort are to turn negative influential stakeholders to positive, and to move as many current and potential supporters as possible closer to the top right of the chart.

The level of interest, in this second sense, corresponds to how great the effect is. A welfare recipient who stands to receive increased benefits, child care, and employment training from a back-to-work program, for example, has a greater interest in the effort than someone who simply thinks the program is a good idea, but has no intention of being involved in it in any way.

Influence and interest can be either internal or external to the organization or the community. Most of the descriptions above pertain to external influence and interest, but they could be internal as well. Organizations and institutions as well as communities have official and unofficial leaders, people in positions that confer power or influence, people with large networks, etc. In addition, those who actually carry out the effort — usually staff people in an organization — can have a great deal of control over whether an effort is conducted as intended, and therefore over its effectiveness.

Stakeholder management is where analysis and practice meet. It allows you to use the analysis to help gain support and buy-in for your effort. Community-based and community-focused organizations and institutions may be more likely to have other purposes in mind when the issue of stakeholder management arises. A big question here is whether the whole concept of stakeholder management is in fact directly opposed to the idea of participatory process, where everyone has a voice.

In practice, we all try to manage people constantly, from attempting to convince a skeptical three-year-old that broccoli tastes good to motivating students and employees to do their best. Persuasion, negotiation, education, and other methods of managing stakeholders that acknowledge their concerns, however, do not violate that spirit, and are often a necessary part of making a participatory process work.

The first step in stakeholder management is to understand clearly where each stakeholder lies in the grid. Stakeholders with neither power nor interest would go in the lower left-hand corner of the lower left quadrant. Those with a reasonable amount of power and interest would go in the middle of the upper-right quadrant, etc. Eventually, the grid will be filled in with the names of stakeholders occupying various places in each of the quadrants, corresponding to their levels of power and interest. The next step is to decide who needs the most attention.

In general, the business people who use this model would say that you should expend most of your energy on the people who can be most helpful, i. Powerful people with the highest interest are most important, followed by those with power and less interest. Those in the lower right quadrant — high interest, less power — come next, with those with low interest and low power coming last. Some of those, at least before the effort begins, may be in the lower left quadrant of the grid. They may be too involved in trying to survive — either financially or physically — from day to day to think about an effort to change their situation.

So…your stakeholder management depends on what your purpose is in involving stakeholders.

The four building blocks of transformation

If your purpose is to marshal support for the effort or policy change, then each group — each quadrant of the grid — calls for one kind of attention. If your purpose is primarily participatory, then each quadrant calls for another kind of attention. Stakeholder management for marshaling support for the effort, especially for advocacy or policy change:. When people who could be promoters are negative, the major task is to convert them.

Thus, they need to be treated as potential allies, and their concerns should be addressed to the extent possible without compromising the effort. If they begin to voice opposition, then your first attempt might be at conversion or neutralization, rather than battle. While this formulation is no more compelling than other similar ones, it has the advantage of giving a label to each quadrant. Stakeholder management for developing a participatory process or including marginalized populations:.

Organizations must cultivate supporters in support of any effort. Deciding whom to cultivate by analyzing how much they can help is a standard part of health and community service work, as well as of advocacy. Stakeholder management in that situation means trying to attract representatives of all stakeholders, and treating them all as equals and colleagues, while at the same time leveling the field as much as possible by providing training and support to those who need it.

The four-cell grid is still useful here, but the attention given to those in each quadrant will be different from that in the other model. Here, the largest amount of attention may go to the people in the two lower quadrants, since those with little power often have less experience in such areas as meeting and planning, and less confidence in their ability to engage in them. A successful participatory process may require that the people in the upper right quadrant — the promoters — understand and buy into the process fully.

They can then help to bring stakeholders in the other positions on board, and to encourage them to participate in planning, implementing, and evaluating the effort. That means working with the promoters to explain the concept of participation fully and to convince them that pulling all stakeholders in is the best way to accomplish your — and their — goals. They might also serve as mentors or partners to those who are not used to having seats at the table. Obviously, not all stakeholders in the lower two quadrants are low-income, unused to managing things, or lacking in educational and organizational skills.

Others may have no influence in this particular situation, though they may have a great deal in other circumstances. Very often, however, those who do lack skills and experience find themselves in those two lower quadrants. That may be one aspect of stakeholder management, and it may help to move them into positions of more influence and teach them how to exercise it. Often, the stories of those who have or will benefit from the effort can be effective motivators for people who might otherwise be indifferent. Such stories are particularly powerful if the listeners know the people involved, but never suspected the difficulties they face.

If the latents become involved, their influence can help to greatly strengthen the effort. The more people, groups, institutions, and organizations with influence that are involved, the greater the chances are for success. The task with latents is to convince them that they are true stakeholders, and that the effort will benefit them either directly or indirectly. Bringing people and organizations into the process and moving them toward the upper right quadrant of the stakeholder grid generally demands that you keep them involved and informed by:. Evaluation of the stakeholder process should be an integral part of the overall evaluation of the effort, and stakeholders themselves should be involved in developing that evaluation.

The answers to these and similar questions could both help you improve the current effort and make a big difference the next time — and there will be a next time — you involve stakeholders. That brings us to the final piece of working with stakeholders. As with any other community building activity, you have to keep at it indefinitely, or at least as long as the effort goes on.

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New stakeholders may need to be brought in as time goes on. Old ones may cease to be actual stakeholders, but may retain an interest in the effort and may therefore continue to be included. Understanding and engaging stakeholders can be tremendously helpful to your effort, but only if it results in their ownership of it and long-term commitment to it. And that depends on your continuing attention. Stakeholders of an effort are those who have a vested interest in it, either as those who develop and conduct it, or as those whom it affects directly or indirectly.

Managing stakeholders — keeping them involved and supportive — can be made easier by stakeholder analysis, a method of determining their levels of interest in and influence over the effort. Once you have that information, you can then decide on the appropriate approach for each individual and group. Depending on your goals for the effort, you may either focus on those with the most interest and influence, or on those who are most affected by the effort.

As with any community building activity, work with stakeholders has to continue for the long term in order to attain the level of participation and support you need for a successful effort. Maximizing Community Stakeholders' Engagement is a comprehensive video from Tom Wolff, which offers a thorough exploration of why it is important to involve all stakeholders, and how to do so. Business oriented.

Skip to main content. Toggle navigation Navigation. Chapter 7. Chapter 7 Sections Section 1. Methods of Contacting Potential Participants Section 4. Writing Letters to Potential Participants Section 5. Involving Key Influentials in the Initiative Section 7. Identifying and Analyzing Stakeholders and Their Interests. The Tool Box needs your help to remain available.

Toggle navigation Chapter Sections. Section 1. Main Section Checklist PowerPoint. What do we mean by stakeholders and their interests? Why identify and analyze stakeholders and their interests? Who are potential stakeholders? When should you identify stakeholders? How do you identify and analyze stakeholders and their interests? One way to characterize stakeholders is by their relationship to the effort in question. Primary stakeholders are the people or groups that stand to be directly affected, either positively or negatively, by an effort or the actions of an agency, institution, or organization.

In some cases, there are primary stakeholders on both sides of the equation: a regulation that benefits one group may have a negative effect on another. A rent control policy, for example, benefits tenants, but may hurt landlords. Secondary stakeholders are people or groups that are indirectly affected, either positively or negatively, by an effort or the actions of an agency, institution, or organization. A program to reduce domestic violence, for instance, could have a positive effect on emergency room personnel by reducing the number of cases they see.

It might require more training for police to help them handle domestic violence calls in a different way. Both of these groups would be secondary stakeholders. Key stakeholders , who might belong to either or neither of the first two groups, are those who can have a positive or negative effect on an effort, or who are important within or to an organization, agency, or institution engaged in an effort.

The director of an organization might be an obvious key stakeholder, but so might the line staff — those who work directly with participants — who carry out the work of the effort. Other examples of key stakeholders might be funders, elected or appointed government officials, heads of businesses, or clergy and other community figures who wield a significant amount of influence. A few of the more common: Economics. An employment training program might improve economic prospects for low-income people, for example. Zoning regulations may also have economic consequences for various groups.

Social change. An effort to improve racial harmony could alter the social climate for members of both the racial or ethnic minority and the majority. Involving workers in decision-making can enhance work life and make people more satisfied with their jobs. Flexible work hours, relief programs for caregivers, parental leave, and other efforts that provide people with time for leisure or taking care of the business of life can relieve stress and increase productivity.

Protection of open space, conservation of resources, attention to climate change, and other environmental efforts can add to everyday life. These can also be seen as harmful to business and private ownership. Physical health. Free or sliding-scale medical facilities and other similar programs provide a clear benefit for low-income people and can improve community health.

Safety and security. Neighborhood watch or patrol programs, better policing in high-crime neighborhoods, work safety initiatives — all of these and many other efforts can improve safety for specific populations or for the community as a whole. Mental health. Community mental health centers and adult day care can be extremely important not only to people with mental health issues, but also to their families and to the community as a whole. The Community Tool Box believes that, in most cases, a participatory effort that involves representation of as many stakeholders as possible has a number of important advantages: It puts more ideas on the table than would be the case if the development and implementation of the effort were confined to a single organization or to a small group of like-minded people.

It includes varied perspectives from all sectors and elements of the community affected , thus giving a clearer picture of the community context and potential pitfalls and assets. It gains buy-in and support for the effort from all stakeholders by making them an integral part of its development, planning, implementation, and evaluation. All stakeholders can have a say in the development of an effort that may seriously affect them. If everyone has a seat at the table, concerns can be aired and resolved before they become stumbling blocks.

Having all stakeholders on board makes a huge difference in terms of political and moral clout. This led to several complex changes in the accounting modules as a result of a recently introduced performance-management system. By building a robust business case and maintaining focus on business objectives along the whole project timeline, successful teams can avoid cost overruns.

They can also, for example, ensure faster customer response times, obtain higher-quality data for the marketing organization, or reduce the number of required manual processes. High-performing project teams also improve the ways in which a company manages its internal and external stakeholders, such as business and IT executives, vendors, partners, and regulators. Project leaders continually engage with all business unit and functional heads to ensure genuine alignment between business needs and the IT solutions being developed. Good stakeholder management involves foresight when it comes to selecting vendors and negotiating contracts with them.

Some companies have learned this the hard way. A bank in the Middle East negotiated hard for price with a vendor and later suffered at the hands of an inexperienced vendor team. Another bank scored well on unit price with a software-package provider for the project phase of a trading-system implementation but encountered high costs for changes and support after the system was introduced and the bank was locked into the new technology. Drawing on expert help as needed, high-performing teams orchestrate all technical aspects of the project, including IT architecture and infrastructure, functionality trade-offs, quality assurance, migration and rollout plans, and project scope.

The right team will understand both business and technical concerns, which is why companies must assign a few high-performing and experienced experts for the length of the program. We estimate that the appropriate experts can raise performance by as much as percent through their judgment and ability to interpret data patterns. One common pitfall occurs when teams focus disproportionately on technology issues and targets.

A bank wanted to create a central data warehouse to overcome inconsistencies that occurred among its business-unit finance data, centralized finance data, and risk data. However, the project team focused purely on developing the IT-architecture solution for the data warehouse instead of addressing the end goal, which was to handle information inconsistencies.

This added huge amounts of unnecessary complexity. To eliminate waste and to focus on the items that represented the greatest business value, the team introduced lean 3 3. At the same time, it established rigorous testing and rollout plans to ensure quality and introduced clearly defined stage gates. Through these and other actions, the team was able to check 95 percent of all test cases, fix critical defects, and verify the fixes before continuing from the unit test phase to integration testing. Large projects can take on a life of their own in an organization.

To be effective and efficient, project teams need a common vision, shared team processes, and a high-performance culture. To build a solid team, members should have a common incentive structure that is aligned with the overall project goal, in contrast with individual work-stream goals. A business-to-technology team that is financially aligned with the value-delivery targets will also ensure that all the critical change-management steps are taken and that, for example, communications with the rest of the organization are clear, timely, and precise.

To ensure the smooth start-up of new front-end and core systems that more than 8, people would use, one company team launched a massive—and successful—change-management program. The program included a regular newsletter, desktop calendars that highlighted key changes and milestones, and quarterly town-hall meetings with the CEO. The team made sure all top business-unit leaders were involved during the user-acceptance phase. The company included at least one change agent on each team. These agents received training that instilled a clear understanding of the benefits of the IT change.

The actions helped the company to verify that it had the required business capabilities in place to make full use of the technology being implemented and that it could deliver the business value expected in the overall project business case. These include having a strategic and disciplined project-management office and establishing rigorous processes for managing requirements engineering and change requests.


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The project office should establish a few strong stage gates to ensure high-quality end products. At the same time, it needs to strive for a short delivery life cycle to avoid creating waste in the development process. Another organization, a high-tech company, established clear quality criteria for a project master plan, which mandated that teams break down all activities so that they required fewer than 20 person-days to complete and took no longer than four weeks.

The waterfall model is a sequential software-development process in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downward—like a waterfall—through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, and maintenance. In other words, the teams participated from the beginning of the project to its completion—from defining requirements to testing. This approach helps to avoid misunderstandings during stage transitions and ensures clear responsibility and ownership. It also promotes efficiency gains and fast delivery.

Companies usually begin with a diagnostic to determine the status of their key projects and programs—both finalized and existing projects to understand company-specific problems and planned projects to estimate their true cost and duration. This diagnostic determines two conditions: the health of a project from the standpoint of the four dimensions of the value-assurance methodology Exhibit 3 and its relative prospects when compared with the outcomes of a reference class 5 5.

Reference-class forecasting predicts the outcome of a planned action based on actual outcomes in a reference class of actions similar to that being forecast. The theories behind reference-class forecasting were developed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky and helped Kahneman win the Nobel Prize in Economics. Today reference-class forecasting is practiced in both public- and private-sector policy and management.

This comparative assessment may have helped a health care provider avoid disaster. Given that the black-swan risk is largely driven by how long a project takes before it goes live, top management stopped the initiative at the green-light stage and asked the IT team to revise the plan.