Customer Experience and Design

Tools of the Trade: The Initial Interviews

Second in this series of requirement gathering tools is the interview. Interviewing may sound easy and generic but there are several objectives to achieve using the tool.

First, focus upon on a list of objectives to orchestrate a plan. Several objectives come to mind, with the main goal being establishing rapport with leadership due to its impact on the project. During introductions and initial dialogues the level of “Business Intelligence” can be assessed as a secondary benefit. Business Intelligence, or BI, is the ability of an organization, department or an individual to take the culmination of information and present it in a timely manner to the correct recipients via proper channels, thus allowing the opportunity to leverage information.

The open dialogues with leadership are more of an icebreaker and to gain a feeling of the level of Business Intelligence individuals. If possible, interview leadership individually to gain an understanding their involvement and desired outcome and how far-reaching a project is departmentally. The introduction allows one to gain staff cooperation and leads to the next objective: gaining information.

During the initial meetings, the task at hand is gaining information at a high level. Look to understand the current flow and processing of information. Use high-level questioning such as where data comes from and who receives the data. The present “SLA – Service Level Agreement” and possible future SLA may be discussed. Information obtained during discussions is vital until determined otherwise via group sessions known as JAD or discovery sessions. Another benefit of these conversations is the disclosure of a contact list.

The circulation or contact list is a foundational tool for managing a project and securing information. The contact list is the life line to obtaining and circulating information.

When completed, the interviews will capture:

  • General High-Level understating of department/organizational procedures
  • Flow of Information
  • Various BI Levels
  • Established SLA’s
  • Initial Contact list
  • Stakeholder Desired outcome
  • Project understanding of those involved
  • Establishment of rapport with leadership and staff

The best train of thought is to assume nothing, question everything, and think outside the box. Start interviews with the project manager and follow up with directors and managers. This will allow the leadership to prepare staff to deliver specific information.

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Thomas Walton

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