I’ve been involved in building, developing and launching products in some way or another for the last sixteen years. Thirteen of those have been in some form of leadership role where my responsibility has been to really get under the skin of the problem we’re trying to solve to ensure any kind of success.
Over the years I’ve developed 10 questions that I use at the start of the product development journey that really help kick start the requirement gathering process. Many of these questions are from things I’ve read, what people have suggested, and also through trial and error. They’re all open questions and, as most of my experience has been in developing business-to-business products and services, they’re tailored for a discussion to someone within an organisation. With a little tweaking they can be used for other people as well.
I think it’s important that whilst the discussion is structured, it is a conversation and not a set of formal questions like you’re reading off a questionnaire. You should meet them in their environment, to make sure they’re relaxed, and how the place looks and feels will also give you valuable insight into them as an individual and their organisation.
Half the skill in doing this well is finding the answers to these questions as part of a 30 minute discussion. And you don’t want it to last any more than 30 minutes as everyone is busy.
So, to the questions (and I’m going to assume you know the person’s name and where they fit in the organisation). And don’t forget to start with an introduction that includes how you are connected to that person and why you asked for the meeting in the first place:
- What are you trying to achieve this year?
- And if you were had to pick your top three priorities from that list?
- How do you measure your success?
- What are your biggest barriers to achieving this?
- What problems do you and your teams encounter on a regular basis?
- What sort of value would you place on a solution that solved these problems?
- Who would you buy such a solution off?
- What’s your buying process for this?
- Are there two to three other people you think I should meet?
- Is there anything I can do to help you?
And don’t forget to say thank you.