How to Get Information from Stakeholders

1. Ask Them. The simplest way to find out what people want from your service or product is to ask them. That’s what the hairdresser does when he says, “How would you like your hair, sir?”. The trouble is, most service-providers assume they know what people want. When hotel customers are asked what they want for their breakfast and then the and catering staff are asked what they think the customer wants, the answers are invariably different. Always ask and act on the answers.

2. Focus Groups. Focus groups are representatives of stakeholder groups whose job is to provide you with information on their needs and preferences. When Selfridges Food Hall in London’s West End used a focus group to review their customer needs, they discovered that they had three different types of customer: locals who wanted personal attention; after-work shoppers who wanted convenience; and tourists who wanted something special.

3. Questionnaires and Surveys. Getting various stakeholders to put their thoughts in writing on a questionnaire or survey is one of the most well-established feedback techniques. That’s because, when well-conducted, it works. When Volkswagen designed the new Bug, they sent their existing customers a detailed survey saying, “We want you! Your ideas, preferences, and constructive contributions will be evaluated and fed into the development process. So tell us about your impressions and ideas for the new Beetle. We’ll do our best!” The result? Air conditioning as standard and optional lighters and ashtrays. Who would have guessed?

Costs of stakeholder analysis
Below are some of the costs of and potential problems with conducting stakeholder analysis.
• It takes time and adds to the amount of work for a project.
• Stakeholder interviews can sometimes have unintended repercussions! Projects are the domain of particular people, and have limited purview. Such limits and boundaries can often be invisible to outsiders or newcomers. It is important to understand exactly how to frame and portray the project you are working on during stakeholder interviews. You don‘t want to step n people‘s toes and cause people to view your project with alarm.

Benefits of stakeholder analysis
Below are some of the benefits of conducting stakeholder analysis.

  • Acceptance of recommendations: The biggest benefit of stakeholder analysis is that design recommendations are more likely to gain acceptance. By conducting stakeholder analysis early in the process, and getting some feedback on the recommendations, the stage is set for the recommendations to gain acceptance within the organization.
  • Design is more likely to serve business goals: By spending time understanding stakeholder perspectives, recommended solutions are more likely to be in tune with business requirements and goals.
  • Stakeholders gain familiarity with design research methods: Take the opportunity of meeting with stakeholders as a way to familiarize stakeholders with your own goals and methods. For example, for a project where we were developing personas, we
    described what personas are, how we were going to create them in each interview.

The result was that by the time stakeholders were introduced to the personas we created, they already understood why personas were important. Stakeholder analysis is a very effective mechanism for bringing other perspectives into the design process. Over the years, the user experience field has seen a flowering of methods and techniques for understanding users. It is time to expand the focus and include the perspectives of others who are impacted by (or have an impact on) user experience work. Stakeholder analysis is an effective way of making that happen.

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