Participation by project stakeholders means sharing a common understanding and involvement in the decision-making process of the project. Participation by stakeholders leads to empowerment and to joint ownership of the project. To increase participation the project should start with a consultation process that moves to negotiations and ends with joint decisions. Participation by project stakeholders has many benefits and advantages, among them are:
- Ensures that the project plans are a reflection of the real needs and priorities
- Develops an environment of trusts by allowing the voices of the stakeholders be heard and their issues be known
- Makes the project accountable to the stakeholders
- Enables the voices of the stakeholders to be heard and by doing that the level of trust in the relationships increases.
- Promotes transparency in the actions of the project and ensures that the project is held accountable for its actions.
- Increases ownership by stakeholders who feel the project is taking in account their views and motivates them to sponsor the project, which ultimately leads to sustainability.
- Is a key strategy to win support to the project, to gain commitment to the project, and ultimately to increase the chances for sustainability after the project has been completed.
Real development requires a people centered approach instead of an output oriented one. Project managers need to break the conventional approach of top-down solutions to incorporate a bottom-up approach that enables a more sustainable solution.
While participation may require more time and resources and may be more difficult to implement; the results is an increase in commitment to the project. Stakeholders who are consulted and made part of the solution feel more willing to support the project.