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SMEs: Engaging with Success

Stakeholder engagement has become one of the pinnacle project management practices of our times: It literally means the process by which companies interact with all groups which have a ‘stake’ in achieving desired outcomes. As of recent, the practice has been grabbing the attention of management boards: In a study by McKinsey, 58% of CEO’s reported stakeholder engagement to be a top priority on their business agendas. So, what determines the success of stakeholder management, and why do SMEs naturally outrival everyone in its practice?


The Principles of Stakeholder Engagement

Through stakeholder engagement, all participants in a project understand why the project exists, who is involved and affected by it, what are its key objectives, and how they will be achieved. Engagement is a key ingredient to the success of any construction management project due to the sheer benefits it provides. These are numerous, ranging from building mutual trust and confidence, to information accessibility, effective project implementation and adoption, improved productivity and competitiveness, long-term partnerships, and increased investments to name just a few.

Successful stakeholder participation is based on several principles:

  • Sensitivity to Changes: The everchanging nature of culture, market, and politics are important to understand to ensure effectiveness and adaptation. The company should exert effort to communicate with well-informed persons to understand a project’s environment dynamics;
  • Tailored & Effective Communication: Different stakeholders require varied levels of engagement according to stage, size, type and so on. Categorizing stakeholders for instance by influence and interest can go a long way in devising successful approaches for easy and effective communication and involvement;
  • Constant Engagement: Proactiveness and transparency in communication helps build mutual trust and common commitment. It is crucial that the firm interacts often to instantly resolve problems as they arise;
  • Long-Term Relationships: Building solid relationships helps create sustainable business ventures which guarantee long-term prosperity for all. Content and satisfied stakeholders will keep coming back for future work opportunities;
  • Sincerity & Empathy: Mutual understanding and honesty can be instrumental in enhancing participation and involvement as customers/employees who feel their needs are well understood and accounted for are more likely to own the project and its goals as well as accept accountability.


The Four Advantages of SMEs

Primarily due to the robustness of their efficient sizes and operations, Small and Medium size enterprises (or SMEs)- such as KEN International – are well positioned to engage both their internal and external stakeholders. According to us at KEN, SMEs have four main advantages that allow us to reap the maximum benefits from engaging with our stakeholders. These are:

    1. Exclusiveness: The relatively smaller number of stakeholders involved in a typical SME-led engagement plan, a more exclusive nature of relationship develops, particularly with clients. Accordingly, SMEs become more intimately involved with their clients’ projects and agendas. Personally-dedicated staff manage to deliver better quality services specifically tailored to the intricacies of their clients who they eventually become very familiar with. The exclusivity is also beneficial in creating longer-term business relationships than larger firms in the same industry.
    2. Flexibility: Small practices are more nimble, adaptive, and responsive to the sensitive needs of stakeholders, due to their size and speediness in the manner in which work is processed. This helps them react quickly to the sometimes instantaneously changing needs of their clients, staff, as well as service markets and contextual environments. Also, approaches to problems are almost never systematic: Solutions are tailored to clients’ specific contexts and usually display more inventiveness than standardized tactics of bigger firms.
    3. Collaboration: Owing to their flat organization structure, stifling bureaucracies and complex reporting protocols are virtually absent, which renders SMEs much more collaborative in nature. This is advantageous in that it helps stakeholders be consistently This horizontal association tends to favor more freedom in ideas sharing and cross-fertilization, better mutual support, trust, and good relationships among stakeholders, cross-disciplinary coordination and synergies, not to mention improved conditions for innovation and creativity.
    4. Directness: Due to the absence of multiple layers of management, communication between all involved parties is direct. Accordingly, SMEs understand well the particular needs of its clients and devises effective strategies to meet them, without meaning, intents, and expectations being lost in lengthy communication protocols. Moreover, challenges and dissatisfactions can quickly be resolved owing to effective and short communication conduits between all concerned parties.


In conclusion, by their very nature, SMEs are better poised to reap the benefits of stakeholder engagement. Their very success is rooted in their intrinsic ability to be exclusive, flexible, collaborative, and direct which give them a competitive advantage over larger firms in the same sector. Aware of this capacity, we at KEN International are keen on adopting best practices in stakeholder engagement to ensure that all individuals, groups, and communities that are involved with us achieve success, each in their own special way.