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
In UX research, your job is to understand, persuade, and influence. First, you need to talk to users to understand their behaviors and uncover their needs. Then, you need to convey your learnings to the product team in a persuasive, coherent way. Finally, you need to drive action within the product team, influencing the project and its priorities.
Establishing strong partnerships with both your product owner and your overall product team is the best way to increase the impact of your research. Involve the team throughout your research process—from defining the research goals to presenting the final readout—and everyone will get more out of the research. The product team learns how valuable well-designed, well-executed research can be, and you’ll conduct better informed, more relevant research. Having regular discussions with the product team helps you focus on the most valuable research goals, enabling you to refine your research plan to ensure maximum impact. 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