This week I have been revisiting the topic of Stakeholder Interviews, in the hope to refresh my own thoughts on the subject. I’ve found some great resources that I would like to share along with a number of hints and tips that I have from my own experience of undertaking Stakeholder Interviews. I should note that this post is not intended to be a definitive list of potential questions, more a guide to those who wish to understand how to undertake Stakeholder Interviews.
Firstly, what is a Stakeholder Interview? Well – I couldn’t find a book definition to reference, so I have made one up:
An interview between a Business Analyst/Project Manager and pre-identified stakeholders of an organisation or department, for the purpose of understanding a current system and/or eliciting requirements for a new system.
Like many interviews that you will have taken part in, either in seeking employment or helping in market research, they follow what is known as a structured interview style.
Bryman & Bell (2003) describe the purpose of the structured business research interview as being “for the interviewer to elicit from the interviewee or respondent, as he or she is frequently called in survey research, all manner of information: interviewees’ own behavior or that of others, attitudes, norms, beliefs and values.”
So now that we know what a Stakeholder Interview is, how do we undertake one? Thanks to Brad Botz over at BA Mastery, I came across a great podcast that he put together on the same topic. Brad suggests breaking down your questions in the following way:
- – How do you use this software? What are some examples of what you do regularly? Which actions do you perform the most?
- – How often do you perform these tasks?
- – What do you like best about the software?
- – What problems do you run in to on a regular basis?
- – What are the tips and tricks that you have learnt? Are there any workarounds that you have discovered to make the tasks easier?
- – Have I missed anything? Is there anything that you would like to show me?
It is important when to stay on topic with this last set of questions. Try not to allow the stakeholder to deviate from the original purpose of the interview and remain positive about the system, even if their own concerns or experiences are negative. It’s also to remember to let the stakeholder follow the course that they wish to take throughout the interview. While it is appropriate for the interviewer to help guide the respondent, encouraging them down a particular route is not appropriate and should be avoided where possible.
- If you build a rapport you are going to get much more acceptance of the project, not just through the interview but throughout the life cycle of the project
- Its easy to conduct interviews – easy to extend them if they overrun and easy to record their findings
- It can be difficult to obtain consensus if there are many stakeholder
- Follow up questions are heavily reliant on the interviewers experience of the interview process and their understanding of the domain they are working in
- You may lead someone accidentally