What are stakeholder interviews?
Stakeholder interviews are a form of semi-structured research that involves exchanging ideas with those who are invested in a project’s success.
Typically conducted early in the product’s life cycle, stakeholder interviews are aimed at ensuring stakeholders get their input and expertise across to our design and development teams.
Who are the stakeholders?
Stakeholders are those who are able to offer useful advice to hopefully streamline the digital product’s design and development processes. While they are often employees within the company, stakeholder interviews can also encompass external parties like end users.
Information acquired through this interview process is essential for the growth and development of the product. By using stakeholder interviews to examine a variety of perspectives, we can better understand the most effective way to deliver a product that truly addresses your requirements and satisfies your customers.
Learn more about stakeholder interviews in the following sections:
- Why are stakeholder interviews important for your business?
- What are the most common stakeholder interview questions?
- Our approach to stakeholder interviews
- Our 6-step stakeholder interview process
- How do we structure stakeholder interviews?
Why are stakeholder interviews important for your business?
Stakeholder interviews help our UX design team set a clear design direction for your digital product in three ways:
1Setting the stage for your digital product’s design direction
Stakeholder interviews help our UX design team set a clear design direction for your digital product in three ways:
Stakeholder interviews allow our UX team to learn more about your business, your industry, as well as your products and services.
Stakeholder interviews help us gain a clearer understanding of your overall vision for the digital product, such as its long-term role in growing your business.
Stakeholder interviews let us determine the most important features of your digital product, depending on your budget for the project.
For instance, suppose we discover from conducting stakeholder interviews that your digital product is part of a strategy to rebrand your company for younger audiences.
With this information, we can start designing a flow and layout for the digital product that aligns with your company’s rebranding strategy, as well as establish which features are most important for capturing the new target audience while still staying within budget.
Ultimately, by integrating these views into the product’s design process, we can ensure that we are giving the users what they want in terms of both UX design and technical functionality.
2Creating alignment among different stakeholders
Secondly, stakeholder interviews are an efficient way to align the objectives of different stakeholders. We often find that different stakeholders within the same company will have varying expectations of what goals their new digital product should achieve.
For example, the Chief Technology Officer and Chief Marketing Officer may want their company’s new digital product to serve entirely different goals:
- The CTO may want the new digital product to have a strong backend platform that streamlines internal workflows for the company.
- Meanwhile, the CMO may want to use the product as a frontend marketing platform to acquire more customers.
These differing stakeholder objectives can lead to complex design and development challenges, hindering the product’s success in the long-run.
For this reason, stakeholder interviews are conducted to help align different stakeholder objectives, which in turn, allows our design and development teams to create a better digital product with a unified goal.
3Helping us identify and validate your assumptions
Stakeholders often have certain assumptions about what their business’s USP is, who their customers are, and what their customers expect from their digital products.
During stakeholder interviews, we aim to identify these assumptions and validate them with our UX research process.
For instance, we conduct competitive research to identify whether the planned digital product will give our clients a real competitive advantage, or simply allow them to retain their current market share.
Furthermore, we also conduct user interviews to find out what real users expect from the digital product that we are creating.
Through these processes, we are able to use data-driven research to identify and validate stakeholder assumptions, ensuring that we are building a digital product that addresses our client’s target audience.
4Lowering the risk of unintended repercussions
Digital products can often have unintended adverse impacts on different groups of external stakeholders, which could, in turn, have negative repercussions on your business’ image and branding.
By gaining first-hand insight from external stakeholders, you can identify these potential adverse impacts in order to avoid or reduce them before launching the product.
For example, many businesses have been faced with social media backlash after failing to make their product inclusive for all groups of end users.
By conducting stakeholder interviews, we can lower the risk of these negative repercussions by identifying how your product may impact different types of stakeholders in various ways.
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What are the most common stakeholder interview questions?
As previously mentioned, stakeholder interviews are a form of semi-structured research. The questions that are asked are open-ended, allowing room for elaboration and discussion.
Here are some examples of common stakeholder interview questions:
1What does success look like for you and your team?
By asking stakeholders to define success, we can have a clear picture of the goal we are working towards. Thus, we’ll be able to have constructive discussions about the current state of the project more easily and highlight what needs to be done in order to further improve upon the product’s design and development process.
2What do you think will be the biggest obstacle when creating this digital product?
This question will highlight areas of the project that may need extra attention while also shedding light on the resources necessary to complete the project.
When working with digital agencies, one of the biggest pitfalls is the misalignment between you and the agency on what the project’s key challenges will be.
By directly asking internal stakeholders about their anticipated obstacles for the project, we can better align the project scope and start taking precautionary measures to avoid these obstacles further down the line.
3How would you execute this project differently?
By asking this question to internal stakeholders, we can enable our interviewees to feel like they have control over the project. This will then help us learn more about potential problems and areas of improvement from the interviewees’ perspectives.
4Do you have any concerns about this project after it is completed?
This is an excellent opportunity to discuss concerns about how the project will be maintained in the long-run. Maintenance is central to a digital product’s long-term success, so fleshing out long-term maintenance plans with internal stakeholders can help the development team create digital products that can be easily maintained in the long-run.
The bottom line: Focus on value-oriented questions
When conducting stakeholder interviews, always keep in mind that every question should be bringing up valuable information regarding the following:
- The purpose of the project
- The users’ pain points‘
- The project’s technical and functional requirements
- The client’s goals and expectations
- The product’s long-term strategy
Our approach to stakeholder interviews
Getting stakeholders aligned with the goals and objectives of the project from the very beginning of the product’s life cycle saves unnecessary rounds of design revisions and missed deadlines.
With that said, this is how we approach our stakeholder interviews:
Setting goals is one of the first steps in delivering results. Stakeholder interviews allow us to set key objectives for the digital product.
Furthermore, stakeholder interviews also help us identify user pain points and discover technical requirements so we can create steps to resolving them. By doing this, we can ensure that we end up building the right products for the end users.
At Morphosis, we ensure communication channels with all stakeholders are transparent to avoid any miscommunication.
We use our stakeholder interviews as a tool to analyse and discover key areas to focus on during our design and development process.
Our UX and UI design teams understand that miscommunication can easily occur, potentially leading to serious setbacks in a digital product’s design and development process. For this reason, we conduct stakeholder interviews in the most transparent way possible before starting our design processes.
We are agile in our stakeholder interview process, encouraging interviewees to speak freely, which allows us to discover information that wasn’t originally anticipated.
Our agile practices also permeate throughout our design and development processes. We continually test and validate all design decisions in a transparent and observable way, giving our clients the peace of mind that their input during the stakeholder interview phase is being taken into consideration.
Our 6-step stakeholder interview process
The importance of having a process for stakeholder interviews can often be overlooked. However, detailed stakeholder interview processes can have the following benefits:
- Seamless goal alignment with stakeholders
- Clearer product visualisation
- Identifying potential obstacles early on
- And more
To capitalise on the benefits of stakeholder interviews, we’ve developed a six-step stakeholder interview process to make sure that all the essential information is gathered early on in the project lifecycle.
1Identify the stakeholders
Our first step is to identify which stakeholders should be interviewed for the project. As each project will have its own unique set of stakeholders, we adjust our interview questions to fit each particular stakeholder group.
2Set research goals
We start our UX research process by setting specific research goals for each stakeholder. This will guarantee that our questions stay relevant and constructive regardless of which particular stakeholder we are interviewing.
One of the key research goals for stakeholder interviews is to identify the stakeholder’s motivations, their needs, desires and pain points.
For instance, if we are interviewing the client’s Chief Marketing Officer, we’ll structure our stakeholder interview to find out what his/her goals are for the digital product, the ideal target user segment, the business requirements for the product’s development and so on.
3Establish a timeline and budget
Stakeholder interviews, along with other UX and UI design processes like UX prototyping and user testing, can have blurry timelines and budget requirements.
For this reason, our UX and UI teams at Morphosis always map out clear timelines and budget requirements for stakeholder interviews. This involves setting a clear timeline for each stakeholder interview, scheduling them well in advance and making a detailed calculation of all the costs involved.
This process ensures that every stakeholder interview conducted adds real value to the end product.
4Determine our list of questions for the interview
Once we’ve established a clear timeline and budget requirement, our teams start developing questionnaires specific to each group of stakeholder.
We use the following framework to craft our questionnaires:
- Why are we doing this project?
- What is the most important goal to deliver?
- How would you describe success in this project?
- How will you monitor the results?
- How would you describe your audience?
- What steps does your audience go through before buying?
- What are some insights you’ve gained from working with previous vendors?
- What don’t you know about your audience?
- What concerns do you have about the project’s processes?
- Are there any concerns you have after it is completed?
- What do you think will be this project’s biggest obstacle?
- How would you do things differently?
- What are the main requirements for this project?
- What message should we be trying to emphasise?
- What actions should we take to deliver that message?
- Describe your greatest success story
- What were the key turning points in your career?
- What is the most valuable business lesson you’ve learnt?
5Send out interview questions beforehand
It is essential that we send out the questions to all our interviewees before the actual interview date. This will give them time to reflect on their views and better articulate their answers on the real day. This would, in turn, maximise the feedback efficiency of each interview we conduct, allowing us to gather more valuable stakeholder insights.
6Conduct the interviews and analyse the responses
When all of our prep work is done for the interview, it is time to finally conduct it. Through real-time transcriptions and video recordings, we closely document all stakeholder interviews so that a deep analysis of the responses can be conducted afterwards.
During the analysis phase, we compile all our data into a report highlighting the following:
- Competitive advantages
- Solutions and alternatives
- And more
How do we structure stakeholder interviews?
Stakeholder interviews are essential for developing a project, and although every project is different, having a solid structure for stakeholder interviews can be crucial in saving both your time and money.
1Start interviews with an icebreaker
Icebreakers are a great way to help give the interviewee a recap of what will be discussed, as well as helping them feel more comfortable and in control of the project, allowing for more valuable information to arise.
For instance, we often start stakeholder interviews with an icebreaker question like asking about how they got to the interview location, or just simply thanking them for their time.
2Be direct and transparent with the interviewees
During stakeholder interviews, we try to establish a direct and transparent communication channel with our interviewees.
Thanks to our prep work prior to the interview day, we are able to stay focused during the interviews and gather relevant information from our interviewees.
For example, our prepared list of questions helps us identify whether the interviewee’s vision is aligned with ours, whether or not we have missed a crucial detail of the technical requirements and whether we’ve got the appropriate budget to design and develop the digital product in the given timeframe.
3Stay open-minded and listen
When we approach these interviews, we always make sure that we are listening closely and carefully to everything the interviewee is saying and document any constructive feedback for further analysis.
We never rush the interview as we do not want to pressure our interviewees. Time pressure can lead interviewees to give answers that are not fully thought out, honest or accurate. If we need extra information or clarification, we will look at arranging a second interview to follow-up on them instead.
“If you need region-leading UX expertise at any stage of product development, I highly recommend Morphosis.”
Meet our UX / UI design team
At Morphosis, we believe research is a crucial part of any digital transformation. We are a team of UX professionals who have designed and developed scalable digital products for some of the biggest brands in Asia, and we can do the same for you.
Styles may come and go but creating impactful design is a language, and we are fluent in it.
We know how smart UX and UI design can directly increase revenue for businesses, and we make sure that we are providing the most intuitive, user-friendly and flexible solutions to all our clients.
Our practiced and proven service model includes: