eBook: Tested Stakeholder Interviewing Methods for Business Analysts

This ebook is brought to you by Adriana Beal, a recognized leader in the business analysis community with a successful trajectory of delivering valued results in internal and customer-facing software projects in increasingly high-profile roles.

There are three things this ebook will do for business analysts:

  • If you lack the confidence necessary to conduct stakeholder interviews, you will feel empowered by the clear scripts that explain how to ask the right questions in the right way of the right people at the right time to ensure no critical requirement remains undiscovered.
  • If you find it hard to engage business stakeholders and experts in the requirements process, you will learn how to get stakeholders asking to be interviewed or to participate in requirements workshops.
  • If you had the horrible experience of  missing critical requirements and ending up having their solution rejected during user acceptance testing, you will finally understand the cause of the failure and learn how to avoid making those critical mistakes ever again.

Here is what you can expect to find in this ebook:

  • A straightforward blueprint for identifying the right stakeholders to speak to and asking the right questions to uncover the real and underlying problem or opportunity that your solution is meant to address.
  • Proven strategies to overcome resistance from senior management and key stakeholders and get the right people involved in clarifying the business problem or opportunity as well as exploring and evaluating candidate solutions.
  • Tested techniques to convince your stakeholders to participate in requirements validation activities so you can confirm that the requirements you specified, when implemented, are going to produce the desired future state.

Investment: $29

The ebook is delivered via link to download in PDF format.
You can read it in your Kindle or reading app by uploading the PDF file to it.
No physical version of this ebook is available for sale.

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Adriana answers your questions and explains what you can learn from Tested Stakeholder Interviewing Methods for Business Analysts that can’t be learned from other online resources

Q: Aren’t there enough online resources for BAs about interviewing and asking the right questions? Why write this ebook?
A: Yes and no. Yes, there are plenty of online resources on the topic “how to ask the right questions”, and well known techniques like the “5 Whys”, but I never found an effective method to help me frame my interview questions in a way that ensured that every important piece of information is surfaced in a timely manner in my projects. For example, books and whitepapers talk about how important it is to identify the business objective behind the functionality that’s being requested by stakeholders. But how to get there? Not by doing what the authors suggest, which is asking directly. Any seasoned business analyst knows that questions like  “what is the business objetive behind your request?” are rarely going to bring to light the real business drivers and key outcomes expected of a project.  Over the years, I had to create my own framework to optimize my information gathering process when talking to stakeholders or customers. This ebook  was written to share these tested methods so other business analysts can accelerate their learning curve and become expert interviewers faster.

Q: Is interviewing truly a critical competency for business analysts? Can’t other competencies, such as observation and analytical skills, provide the same results?

A: I truly believe that no other skill is more important for excellence in business analysis than the ability to ask the right questions to the right people, coupled with solid problem-solving skills.

In all surveys about why projects fail, requirements defects is always listed as one of the top reasons. And when you look into the underlying causes for this problem, the most common culprit is critical information that was only uncovered too late in the process. The missing piece of the puzzle could be the fact that the users of the system only have only one free hand to perform tasks (when the solution was designed requiring two hands to operate). Or that users would be accessing the application from areas with poor Internet connection (when the solution didn’t support the ability to temporarily operate in offline mode when the connection was lost). Or that the legal team, to avoid liability, would only approve recommending doctors to patients via an online self-service tool (when the solution had been built for operators to look up doctors near the patient’s home and give the recommendation over the phone).

This is why good interviewing skills matter. All the problems described above could have been avoided if the business analyst knew who to ask, what to ask, and how to ask questions to uncover any holes, blind alleys, or showstoppers for their projects before they could cause damage.

Q: In my company we rarely use interviews; we favor doing workshops in which the various stakeholder groups work together to achieve consensus around what  to built—do I still need interviewing skills?

A:  Interviews and workshops offer different forums for information gathering, and most successful teams use a combination of both approaches to maximize the business value of their projects. Still, regardless of the technique used to elicit information, the ability to ask the right questions at the right time remains a critical skill to master. In order for the right solution to be identified, strategic-level information regarding business goals, risks, policies, need to be discovered along with more tactical information about trade-offs, alternatives, process inputs and outputs, triggers, and so forth.  The same interviewing techniques taught in this ebook are equally applicable to group session settings. They will help you engage business and technical stakeholders in the right kinds of conversations and minimize the risk of missed requirements.

Q: I’m a product owner who builds products for external audiences, not for internal stakeholders in a company. Would this ebook help me get better at customer discovery?

A: Absolutely! After working for over 10 years in business analysis, 3 years ago I moved into product management roles in the B2B space. I’ve used all of the interviewing skills described in this ebook as a product manager while working with customers and prospects to understand their problems and how my products could help solve them. In particular when you’re working on a software product that’s meant to be used by multiple customers, there’s always more to build than you have people, time, or money for. Better interviewing skills can help product managers and product owners identify specific target outcomes and prioritize development work based on the primary benefits their company is trying to get.

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