16 Apr Data Gathering with Stakeholders: Can We Do This Ourselves?
In the age of countless DIY tutorials, it’s important to remember that age-old saying, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” Yes, you could retile the bathroom floor yourself after watching a 30-minute video tutorial. But should you?
If you don’t have the right skill set, resources, and availability, a poorly executed floor retiling can invite mold and mildew. And the average cost of mold remediation? $2,325.
The risk of DIY is prevalent – not just at home, but in business too.
Data gathering is a critical process in project management, but it’s often considered a “DIY” activity. While that may work perfectly for some organizations, others may benefit significantly from external help.
The right answer differs from organization to organization, so it’s important to address some key considerations before making the decision:
YOUR OPTIONS: INTERNAL, EXTERNAL, & HYBRID CONSIDERATIONS
It’s always going to be less expensive – in the short term – to use your own resources than to obtain new ones. However, as with any business decision, it’s important to carefully measure the cost you’re spending against the value you’re gaining.
Just like a home renovation project – If you choose to DIY the entire process, you most likely won’t get the same results a professional would. But you may be able to DIY and get sufficient results. It’s ultimately up to you to decide if you have the right skill set, resources, and availability to get your house to your desired level of quality.
DIY data gathering is the same. It may be look less expensive at the onset of the project, but the results (the information gathered) may not be to your organization’s desired level of quality.
The biggest advantage to onboarding an external team is gaining access to all the expert knowledge professional services firms have readily available.
Firms’ subject matter experts have years of focused, specialized experience. Throughout their careers, they have helped clients overcome similar issues, fulfill unique business needs, and achieve enterprise-wide goals. They have seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t, and they will use that to help guide your data gathering sessions in the right direction.
To put it in a different context, think again about a home renovation project – maybe it’s something as simple as painting the kitchen cabinets a different color. A professional painting services company will know the best paint for your specific cabinet material. They will also know the best paintbrushes needed to get the job done based on the shape of the cabinets. Can you research this? Absolutely. It’s just going to take more time and effort on your part.
However, you can’t simply Google the years of experience professionals have. If there’s an issue to run into, chances are they have already seen it and know the solution or workaround.
Speed to Action
One of the biggest roadblocks to successfully carrying out data gathering internally is your employees’ competing priorities. A new, enterprise-wide project is an additional responsibility tacked on top of all their day-to-day responsibilities. The data gathering process may not be a top priority for an internal team, so the project timeline tends to stretch out.
However, you don’t really run into this issue with an external team. If you’re using a reliable professional services firm, the team’s main focus is to get you from start to finish with exceptional results within your timeline. The success of each data gathering session affects the project outcome and your overall satisfaction with their firm, so they strive to deliver great work no matter how small the task.
The biggest upside of conducting DIY data gathering is that the team will already have some organizational knowledge. At least to some degree, an internal team will already be familiar with their organization’s current systems and processes. This can make data gathering a bit smoother.
But remember, don’t overlook or speed through the process just because there is that established knowledge and familiarity. The information and insights you gain will be essential to executing the rest of the project successfully.
Just like there will be familiarity with current systems and processes, internal teams will have pre-existing relationships with stakeholders, which can be both good and bad.
It’s beneficial because if those relationships are good, participants will be more comfortable and open in their communications. The get-to-know-you and relationship-building part of data gathering isn’t as lengthy or – in some cases – necessary.
On the other hand, it can also lead to biased answers. Participants will often avoid voicing negative opinions on the organization’s current systems and processes to a fellow employee.
If this is a potential roadblock in your organization, external help with a professional firm can go a long way in getting the right answers from the right people. There are certain best practices for engaging stakeholders through data gathering that good firms leverage to gain the right, relevant information that ultimately set up project success.
A skilled team is an absolute necessity for each data gathering session. You’ll need a strong facilitator, a good note taker, and a change management expert in each meeting.
Professional services firms have years of data gathering experience, so they have accumulated knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. However, if you’re choosing to go the DIY data gathering route, your team should follow best practices, and:
- Know why you’re doing it.
- Explain what you need from the audience.
- Utilize tools to collect data (and make it fun).
- Use interactive techniques when possible.
- Pivot when needed.
THE BOTTOM LINE: CHOOSING WISELY
Internal, external, or hybrid stakeholder engagement? Again, the right answer differs from organization to organization.
You may have the right skill set available, but not enough time to execute it within your desired time frame. Or you may have everything you need to not just get the job done, but get it done well.
Hopefully, this blog helped you get closer to a decision by weighing the pros and cons of each option. Our next recommended step is to conduct an assessment to make a solid, informed decision. And then, if you choose to onboard an external team, choose wisely.
Next Step #1: Assess
An assessment helps you know what you don’t know before embarking on a big project. It will help you choose whether to conduct a project internally, externally, or a combination of the two. It will paint a realistic picture for the time, effort, and resources needed to achieve your end goals, so that you can decide if you will need to onboard additional help.
Next Step #2: Choosing a project team
If you choose to employ that additional, external help, it’s important to choose wisely. You want a team that will work well with your organization and best support your project goals. All firms are different, so get a feel for their previous work through their website, case studies, client testimonials, and presentations.