An important part of setting up the management of a consultation or engagement project is the development of a protocol document that meets the specific needs of a project and the software you are using to manage that initiative.
Protocol documentation ensures that all staff and consultants understand and use exactly the same data collection parameters for the purpose of generating consistent reports that meet industry standards and expectations.
Why is establishing a protocol framework so essential?
A protocol document aligns the stakeholder consultation and engagement processes to your stakeholder management software, ensuring that all information is captured and entered in a consistent manner by all users. It sets up your project to comply with industry best practice and/or regulatory requirements right from the onset, and is customized to your individual internal business reporting requirements.
The business goal of a protocol document is to help efficiently and consistently manage communication with stakeholders, rights-holders, communities, and the public.
It is also essential when you get to the reporting stage. You may need to run reports some time in the future, that you don’t know about yet. Establishing a robust, consistent and streamlined process for how your data is collected and entered allows you to create many kinds of reports – without having to go back and re-enter information.
The promise of increased efficiency and the reduction of risk.
A well-written protocol document is essential for maintaining the integrity of the stakeholder data being collected.
By ensuring that all users gather and enter information in a consistent and meaningful way, and aligning this process with your organization’s engagement and consultation information tracking and reporting systems, protocol documentation helps increase efficiency and mitigate risk .
Inconstancies in the collection and entry of data impact your organization’s ability to effectively keep proper records and generate accurate, meaningful reports. Ultimately, this can lead to more serious regulatory compliance and reputation management issues.
From an organizational efficiency standpoint, effective protocol documents help with project succession and ease the impact of staff turnover – new users being able to refer back to protocol documentation ensures constancy. It also makes training new employees and contractors easier, improving productivity.
Your project – a work in progress.
As processes and regulatory requirements evolve over the life span of your organization’s consultation and engagement projects, the evolution of your protocol documents needs to follow suit.
Ongoing protocol document management is a work in progress and it’s important to assign protocol ownership to a central person or team within the organization. This helps ensure stakeholder information is kept up to date and relevant, while continuously improving data usage.
Questions to ask your team when documenting your stakeholder information protocol.
Before starting the protocol documentation process get your team to address these questions:
- Why are we using stakeholder information management software?
- What data needs to be entered and managed, using which filters?
- Why does this information need to be collected? What reports will need to be generated?
- How should the data collected be entered into specific fields in the platform?
- Who will be involved? Who will be responsible for training, and what happens when a team member leaves?
- Who will be responsible for updating the protocol over the span of the project?
Many items in a protocol document may be quite high-level, and easy to determine; however, here are a few examples in order to demonstrate the level of thought and detail that needs to go into developing a protocol document.
These are examples of protocol specifics to consider. Caution that without this level of detail, users will develop their own ways of doing things and will introduce data inconsistencies:
- What date format to use? (yyyy/mm/dd, or dd/mm/yyyy, or mmm/dd/yyyy, or…)
- Whether to use accented characters? (some users may, others don’t).
- How will you deal with email threads? (summarize all, or enter each one as a separate communication).
- Should communication be summarized in your words, or be recorded verbatim what each person said?
- How will you deal with emails with threads from different time-zones? (what date/time zone do you enter).
- Who maintains controls and approves the Master Data? (for example someone will select ‘trees’, others choose ‘forest’; do you need both?)
- …and many more.
Working with you – SustaiNet’s protocol documentation services.
Does your organization need protocol documentation guidance or implementation assistance?
SustaiNet offers professional protocol documentation services for StakeTracker clients. We have experience working with many types of industries and regulators, and can help you set up the framework that will work best for you – now and in the future.
Working closely with your team, our data services department will help develop a detailed protocol outline customized to your project. In addition, we share our extensive experience and knowledge of industry best practices to help assure your organization has the highest standard of communications management and reporting in place.
Contact us about our stakeholder relationship management software and protocol documentation services.