Scoping a project’s user-research phase is a classic Catch-22 situation. Before a project even begins, you must plan the research activities and the time necessary to perform them, but you’ll rarely have enough information to make these decisions optimally until after the project begins. If you estimate too much time and money, you might scare clients away. Estimate too low, and you’ll either go over budget or won’t have enough time to do the research properly.
To accurately scope user research, you must have a somewhat detailed understanding of the project’s business goals, the users, and their tasks. While you can usually get an overview of this information by talking with your clients, it’s difficult to obtain accurate, detailed information until after a project’s kickoff meeting and initial stakeholder discussions. At that point, you might realize that the research methods you’ve planned aren’t the ones that would let you best understand the problem. You might need more or different participants, and there might not be enough time to conduct and analyze the research. In this column, I’ll discuss some of the problems you may encounter when scoping user research and provide some advice about how to make scoping more accurate. Read More
This is a sample chapter from Brett Harned’s new book Project Management for Humans: Helping People Get Things Done. 2017 Rosenfeld Media.
Chapter 11: Facilitation for Project Managers (PMs)
I worked in retail when I was a teenager. Yup, I was a mall rat for a summer or two. I sold expensive sunglasses. Looking back on the experience, I can say that it gave me the perspective to understand how people make decisions when spending a lot of money on an item that they could get for much cheaper elsewhere. It was interesting to see what would drive someone to make a final decision to purchase a $200+ pair of sunglasses. As the salesman, I was incented to make sales for a commission. But I was also paid a base hourly wage, so I wasn’t a viper. I like to think I helped people make decisions on their purchases. Read More
Have you ever worked with a product owner who has never collaborated with UX researchers before? Or a product owner who is fearful of or even hostile to your conducting research for his product? How do you educate a product owner on the value of UX research and reassure him or her that you’re not coming in to issue orders?
A product owner could feel threatened that a UX researcher—who might not know the ins and outs of the product that well—would be evaluating the product and recommending future actions, features, and strategies. As a UX researcher, empathy and communication are two of your most important tools—and working with a new product owner is a great opportunity to leverage them. It’s important to consider things from the product owner’s point of view and alleviate any concerns through clear communication. Read More