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Five Ways to Understand your Stakeholders' "Needs"

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

In Scrum, the Product Owner is responsible for representing the needs of the customer. When scaling Scrum with Scrum@Scale, the Executive Metascrum is responsible for setting the strategic direction and prioritizing the requirements under a unified product backlog. These responsibilities imply that the members of the Metascrum have an ear to the ground and understand their customers’ needs. But how do you collect these “needs”? Are you practicing the Loudest In First Out (LIFO) approach - where you are fulfilling the needs of your loudest stakeholder to keep them satisfied?

There are healthier (and less stressful) methods than LIFO to determine the needs of your stakeholders. Below are five popular methods for gathering information to assist the Product Owner Team and Executive Metascrum in defining and prioritizing features effectively:

1. Form a Customer Advisory Board (CAB) – A group of selected existing customers who meet regularly to advise on product and industry trends.

2. Perform a Win\Loss Analysis – An analysis to determine the key features that have attracted or discouraged new customer purchases.

3. Perform Competitor Analysis – Assessment of competitive product features used to determine your product's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).

4. Involve the Customer Support Desk – Feedback and case analysis to determine product features that can improve the customer experience and reduce case volume.

5. Pay Customer Visits – Also known as Gemba walks, is a common Lean practice that inspects how the customer interacts with the product in "the actual place" where the customer uses it.

The source of these needs depends on your type of product, culture, and customers. The important part is that you choose a set that includes different perspectives and together satisfy the needs of the products. Tell us how you are collecting customer needs for your product…



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