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Technology Audit: Writing Better Interview Guides

January 12, 2016 | By Jacques Begin

  • Knowing what to ask is critical for successful stakeholder interviews
  • Organize interview guides to prevent “scope creep” during an audit
  • Stakeholder interviews fuel the gap analysis and proposals that close the gaps

Improv (short for improvisation) is a technique used in theatre and comedy where the actor or comedian performs without any script or memorization – making up material in the moment and delivering it in the next moment. While this might work effectively for a quick laugh, improv is certainly not the method to use when conducting a stakeholder interview for a technology audit.

Stakeholder interviews are a vital source of information when conducting a technology audit and should be created before interviews are conducted. Guides should be scripted and based on the audit scope. They should be modified depending on the particular stakeholder (or interviewee) and whether the interview will be conducted in person or electronically (e.g. survey, email). Here are three areas to consider when drafting your stakeholder interview guides to improve them and to make your audit more successful.

  • Introduction. Whether spoken or written, clearly state the intended purpose and goals of the technology audit at a high level, as well as the objectives for the actual interview. This provides interviewees the bigger picture and lets them know what to expect. Often when people hear the word audit, they automatically think of downsizing. If this isn’t the case, make that clear.
  • Capabilities. Technology audits are not only about technology – they are about outcomes. Outcomes are the results of capabilities the organization uses to execute processes and achieve its goals. Audits typically focus on areas of known deficiency. For example, let’s take lead management as a capability. Craft specific questions that drill down into a chosen capability. For example, you might ask, How well does lead management address the tactical areas you execute within? How easy is it to perform critical lead management functions, and what do you perceive is the biggest shortcoming?
  • Technology and process. As applications and systems are uncovered and mapped to capabilities, avoid turning part of the interview toward information such as version, users, owners, license costs, renewal dates, maintenance and support costs, third-party expenses, SaaS vs. on-premises, etc. This type of information can be captured in advance via survey to the systems owners and admins. Instead, have interviewees describe in detail the process they use as part of a capability and exactly how they use the technology to accomplish it. Depending on how your audit is scoped, process and data mapping may come into play here to help determine if proposed solutions will focus on people, process, data and technology or a combination of these.

Jacques Begin

Jacques is a Research Director in the Technology and Services practice at SiriusDecisions. He brings over 15 years of technology research, application and implementation expertise and insight to SiriusDecisions. He has proven success in account management, research and analysis, content development and delivery and communications and collaboration. Follow Jacques on Twitter @JacquesBegin22.