In this project management tutorial Angela shares how to determine who the right person/people are to interview for a requirement elicitation. She explains how to select and identify the right people for the interview purpose.
- Have you ever interviewed a stakeholder and it just hasn't gone well at all? It seems like you can't get any of the information you're looking for? Good rapport but vague answers and a lot of comments from your stakeholder like, Hmmm...I'm not sure. Interviewing the wrong person can be frustrating for them and you as well as the interviewer. This happens a lot on projects. Sometimes it can be avoided and sometimes it can't. The important part is that you recognize it, finish the interview gracefully, keep the relationship intact, and then find the right person to meet your objective.
The best way to avoid interviewing the wrong person is to do a little work up front to minimize the risk of this happening. You're likely given names of people to interview and you also find some names on your own based on your own research and knowledge. There are several resources you can tap into throughout your company, your project team, to help get the names of stakeholders to meet with. You may start with a sponsor, who may ask you to talk to a list of people, or you may ask them whom to talk to and they rattle off some names.
You may also get names from the project manager. She may give you a list of names that have already been determined, and sometimes you might find org charts helpful. You can analyze the org chart and determine who some potential stakeholders are to talk to. You might also leverage existing relationships and knowledge or other stakeholders' recommendations on who to talk to. Consider taking a look at project or organizational documents. You may be analyzing documents about the project, process, system, or product and see key names that might be relevant to the project.
Requirements models are another source. You might look at, analyze, or create visual models like process flows and models, context and scope diagrams, user story maps, user journey maps, use case diagrams, actor or user role maps. One word of caution: when you're given names of stakeholders to interview, you must validate these are actually the right people to meet with. Many times our sponsors and project managers and other stakeholders will give us names, but they might just be best guesses.
They might not actually be the right people to talk to with the right information. Regardless of how you get the names of people to interview, you need to do your due diligence to insure we make good use of their time. It's important to know what the objective and goal of the interview is, and then you can validate this person can help us meet that objective. To make sure you're meeting with the right person, here are some tips. If someone offers you a name of someone to talk to, ask them to give you some insight into why they're selected that person and what they feel you'll learn from them.
If you find the name in a document you feel would be a good candidate to talk to, ask others on the team if they feel that person would be good for you to chat with, and what you will likely learn from them. When in doubt, you can also send them a quick note about the project and ask if they would mind meeting for a quick 30 minutes to chat more. Sometimes you're mid-interview and realize you don't have the right person that you're talking with, or the person you're talking to will not meet the intended purpose. Keep an open mind and know you won't always be interviewing the right person.
When this happens, it's important to maintain that relationship and still actively look for the right person. Personally, I like to have backup interviewees lined up. I will often ask those that I interview, Who else has similar knowledge to you? or Who else should I talk to? Knowing how to identify and select the right people to interview will make your requirement solicitation more successful. It will build key relationships and save your organization precious resources.
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- Choosing to use interviews
- Selecting the right person to interview
- Planning interview questions
- Building rapport in an interview
- Choosing probing questions
- Listening and taking notes
- Analyzing and reviewing notes before following up