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".
Benefits, Advantages and Disadvantages
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.
Arrange a half-day meeting that includes the key stakeholders.
Before the meeting
At the meeting
Briefly introduce all the stakeholders in the meeting. Do not assume that everyone knows each other. Briefly discuss the following topics:
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:
The first three are key stakeholders. You will also need a facilitator and a person to record the information provided during the meeting.
The material for a stakeholder meeting include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.