Most of us out there today are up against tight deadlines.  I usually sit in my office on Friday singing the line from a Beatles song…”8 days a week.”  I wish I had 8 days some weeks.  Yes, it can be frustrating trying to fit it all in.  We have to be thinking of better ways to approach what we do.  My grandfather, who worked in a wine bottling plant (sounds good, but they were bottling Manischewitz…yum) would always say , “Jonathan, work smarter not harder.”  Growing up I never realized the wisdom of my grandpa, I just thought he had one glass of Manischewitz too many when he started talking like that!

On my current project I had to do exactly what my grandpa said.  I had to come up with a plan to work smarter, not harder.  I am analyzing 145 business processes and have over 30 stakeholders, scattered over 6 offices, to elicit all the information I need.  Based on my deadline, if I tried one-on-one interviews or requirements workshops I would be working very hard.  Many hours of meetings and follow-ups.  With everyone’s busy work loads trying to schedule the meetings would be a heroic effort.  To increase my efficiency I turned to surveys to help.  What a great way to elicit a lot of information from a large group.

With the list of questions I intended asking in some form or fashion in an interview, I created a survey.  This approach allows me to analyze and elicit at the same time.  While I am analyzing a group of surveys another group of stakeholders is completing surveys.  Brilliant!

Here is an overview of the approach I am taking:

  1. Create the survey – I am using SharePoint to create and store the surveys. This is the preferred collaboration tool of the client that I am working with.  Along with the survey questions I put help text to really clarify what I am asking the stakeholder to answer.
  2. Distribute the survey – This is fairly easy.  I just send an email with a link to the survey to the appropriate people.
  3. Prepare the stakeholders – I am holding “kick-off” meetings for each of the offices to go over the survey, explain what I am looking for and show an example.  This will ensure I get the right level of detail in the answers.
  4. Complete the survey – I just sit back, sip some Manischewitz and let my stakeholders work their magic!  I’ll be available for questions of course.
  5. Review and Follow-up – Once the surveys start rolling in I’ll start my analysis.  I’ll follow-up with the stakeholders as necessary and make updates.
  6. Track progress – One of the items on the survey is “status”.  I have a great PM that will be working closely with the stakeholders to ensure the surveys are getting completed on time so I have a healthy back log to review.
  7. Compile project deliverable – One of the project requirements is to produce a deliverable of all the process details.  From SharePoint I can export the data to my MS Word template.  Thank goodness, I would hate to type all of that information again!

I’m looking forward to this adventure.  Let me know if you have specific questions.  I’d also love to hear your experiences of working smarter, not harder.  Leave a comment so we can all improve.


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