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Stakeholder Meeting

A stakeholder meeting is a strategic event for introducing stakeholders to each other, gaining commitment to usability and defining usability objectives based on business objectives. It is also a method for collecting information about the purpose of the system and its overall context of use from domain and technical experts. Also known as a "Kick-Off meeting".

Related Links

Web Resources

Usability.gov: Kick-Off meeting (described in the context of a government web site).

Published Studies

Jones MD, Thomas M. Bringing Clinicians On Line. UPA 2002 Conference.

Detailed description

Benefits, Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Ensures that all factors that relate to the use of the system are identified before design work starts.
  • Brings together all the people relevant to the development of a common vision.

Cost-Effectiveness

While it is difficult to assess the cost-effectiveness of a stakeholder meeting, the lack of stakeholder agreement on the vision, usability goals, business goals, strategic requirements, and constraints could result in wasted time and effort later in the product design process.

How To

Planning

Arrange a half-day meeting that includes the key stakeholders.

Before the meeting

  1. Identify the key issues you need to explore.
  2. Choose the key stakeholders based on their strategic involvement in the project.
  3. Provide all participants with a copy of a list of the issues to be discussed at the meeting.
  4. Develop the ground rules for the meeting, such as how to involve remote stakeholders and set limits on time for particular topics.

At the meeting

Briefly introduce all the stakeholders in the meeting. Do not assume that everyone knows each other. Briefly discuss the following topics:

  • What is the overall vision of the system?
  • Why is the system being developed? What are the overall objectives? How will it be judged as a success?
  • Who are the intended users and what are their tasks? (Why will they use the system? What is their experience and expertise?)
  • Who are the other stakeholders and how might they be impacted by the consequences of a usable or unusable system?
  • What are the stakeholder and organisational requirements?
  • What are the technical and environmental constraints? (What types of hardware will be used in what environments?)
  • What key functionality is needed to support the user needs?
  • How will the system be used? What is the overall workflow (e.g. from deciding to use the system, through operating it, to obtaining results)? What are typical scenarios of what the users can achieve?
  • What are the usability goals? (e.g. How important is ease of use and ease of learning? How long should it take users to complete their tasks? Is it important to minimise user errors? What GUI style guide should be used?)
  • How will users obtain assistance when they have problems or questions?
  • Are there any initial design concepts?
  • Is there an existing or competitor system?

Try to obtain consensus where there is uncertainty or disagreement. If information is missing, agree how this can be obtained and track who is responsible for action items and assign specific dates for the completion of those items. Avoid prolonged discussion of minor issues - keep a list of minor issues and assign someone to deal with those later.

After the meeting

Circulate a summary of the conclusions to all participants.

Participants and Other Stakeholders

Invite stakeholders who have knowledge about the business objectives, the intended users, the technology, and usage. This may include:

  • Business manager
  • Project manager
  • User representatives
  • Marketing representativives
  • Developers
  • Trainers
  • Writers
  • Support personnel

The first three are key stakeholders. You will also need a facilitator and a person to record the information provided during the meeting.

Materials Needed

The material for a stakeholder meeting include:

  • Documents related to the project.
  • A breakdown of the context of use.
  • Large sheets of paper for group activities like brainstorming.
  • Sticky notes and markers.
  • Project equipment for presenting material.

Who Can Facilitate

The facilitator for this meeting can be a usability practitioner, a product manager, or other leader involved with the project. Some experience at facilitation would be valuable since there are often competing views about goals and vision at the beginning of projects.

Common Problems

Needs tight facilitation, as minor topics can absorb a lot of time. Need good tracking of action items and issues that emerge from the session.

Next Steps

Obtain any missing information. If the information is not easily available, use one of the field study methods or other data collection activity to understand users and their work environments.

Collect and agree detailed information for a context of use analysis.

Special Considerations

Costs and Scalability

If possible hold this meeting at the beginning of the product life cycle before the requirements have been finalised. If a project is underway holding the meeting is important because user-centered design can still have an impact late in the development process. All stakeholders should attend the first meeting. Hold additional smaller meetings if more detail is required.

If it is impossible to hold a meeting, the information can be collected by interviews or questionnaires, but this makes it difficult to achieve commitment and consensus.

International Considerations

If you have international representatives, consider having a meeting that is scheduled at a time that is convenient so the remote team feels connected to the project.

Facts

Sources and contributors: 
Nigel Bevan (based on UsabilityNet description; Chauncey Wilson.
Released: 2012-04
© 2010 Usability Professionals Association