Conduct 1:1 Interviews
If your end users don’t have time to be shadowed, but you have some influential team members that are willing to contribute to helping you build a more productive portal, then another technique you can use to gather feedback is interviewing users one-on-one.
This may also be a good technique for fine-tuning your End User Survey. Set up a meeting with an influential Subject Matter Expert (SME) in your company. If possible, try to line up several interviews with different people, and from different departments, throughout the course of a day or two. If you have a completed or draft version of your End User Survey, bring it with you. Run through some questions with this user and find out all about how they work.
Similar to your shadowing approach in the previous post, you want to hunt down the good, the bad, and the ugly. In this more intimate atmosphere (and likely more private), you may be able to get employees to speak more freely about their likes and dislikes. If necessary, volunteer to keep the results anonymous and assure them that their confidentiality will be respected.
Let these interviewees know, up-front, exactly what you will be doing with this data. If they are interested, tell them how you intend to use it. Honesty is the best policy and full-disclosure is your friend in this scenario! Users will be happy to know that you intend to make their lives better by doing what they suggest! …funny how that works!
Run through the questions in your end user survey and take copious notes. If the other parties feel comfortable (and if anonymity is not an issue) try to record the sessions, so you can play them back later and take more notes. You always hear something you missed the second time, no matter how much you were paying attention.
Again, as in the Shadowing technique, run through the user’s goals and metrics. Find out their likes, dislikes, wants, and un-met needs. Find out how they converse with their internal teams, customers, partners and the like. Try to tailor some of your questions to that user, in particular. Ask for thoughts, opinions, and some detailed facts.
If you can structure these interviews such that the questions are relatively the same amongst all of the interviews, it may be easier to merge the feedback into a single repository. Once you have this repository, you and your team will have an excellent source of data to get you going in the right direction.
If you still haven’t conducted your End User Surveys, this would be a great time to get that going!