November 1, 2021

5 Ways to Gather Stakeholder Feedback in a Remote Environment

As a Professional Scrum Trainer, I love working from home, but engaging with others in a remote environment can be challenging. If you’re using Scrum remotely and need stakeholder feedback to order your Product Backlog, here are a few ideas for how to gather it virtually.

  1. Business Value Game
  2. Buy a feature
  3. 20/20 vision
  4. Three votes
  5. Sentiments

 

Business Value Game

In this activity, the group agrees upon a ranking system to use when playing the game.  The easiest option is to use the numbers 1-5.  Next, discuss one feature and agree on its value using the scale the team has selected.  For example, if the team uses a scale of 1-5, agree to a relative value estimation for a particular feature.  

Once you’ve established a relative sizing, go through the list of available features/work items and ask participants to estimate the value of each of them using the ranking system.  To avoid undue influence, ask participants to show their “votes” simultaneously, either by asking participants to hold up their votes at the same time on your video call or via the platform’s shared chat feature.

How to  make the “Business Value” game virtual

There are several options for conducting this activity in a remote setting.  The easiest is to ask participants to provide their feedback via a chat tool.  Alternatively, you could create a shared whiteboard in Zoom, Webex or Microsoft Teams, asking participants to place their votes by drawing vote marks beside each feature.  

For more information about the Business Value Game, see https://www.agile42.com/en/business-value-game/.  

 

Buy a feature

 

For this activity, the Product Owner prepares a list of the features for participant feedback.  This list can include potential features, upgrades, technical debt, or other types of work that could contribute to the product. Next, they assign a dollar value to each item based on a rough point estimate that provides relative (but not necessarily accurate) costs. Alternatively, the Product Owner may decide to make all costs equal.  Remember, the game’s goal is to get information about ordering the backlog, not to get into a debate about the price of each feature.    

Next, each participant gets a certain amount of money to “buy” features.  I recommend that participants have enough money to purchase half to two-thirds of them because this encourages thinking carefully about a purchase. Participants proceed to “purchase” the features that interest them most. 

How to make “buy a feature” virtual

As with the previous activity, there are several options for conducting this activity in a remote setting.  The easiest is to ask participants to provide their feedback via a chat tool.  Alternatively, you could create a shared whiteboard in Zoom, Webex or Microsoft Teams, asking participants to place their purchase amounts beside each feature.  Another option would be to create a shared spreadsheet listing the features on rows and creating a column for each participant to divide their funds among the available features.  

To learn more about this activity, visit UX for the Masses uxforthemasses.com.    

 

20/20 Vision

The game 20/20 Vision is more time-consuming than the ones we’ve discussed so far, but it provides the most detailed feedback.

Start by writing one feature each on large index cards. Next, shuffle the pile and put them face down. Take the first one from the top and put it on the wall.  Then, take the next card from the deck and ask participants if the next card is more or less important than the one on the wall. If it is more important, place the card above the previous card.  If it is less important, put it lower. Repeat this process with all the feature cards, and you’ll achieve 20/20 vision for what your stakeholders really want!

How to  make “20/20 vision” virtual

You can replicate this activity virtually using a shared whiteboard tool such as Mural, which allows easy creation of sticky notes that you can move up and down based on stakeholder feedback.  Other options include using the shared whiteboard feature in Zoom, WebEx or Microsoft Teams.  


 

Three votes

Each participant gets three votes in this activity and allocates them among a list of potential features or work items.  Participants may use all three votes on a single work item or spread them out between multiple work items.  Next, sort the items according to the number of total votes.  

How to make “three votes” virtual

You can carry out this activity using any shared whiteboard available in third-party tools such as Mural or whiteboard tools available in conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Webex or Microsoft Teams.  Mural offers an embedded voting tool that the facilitator can use to call for voting.  Alternatively, users can indicate their preference by placing a single line beside the selected item for each vote.

 

Sentiment


This activity asks participants to select a happy, sad, or neutral face that describes how valuable they believe each proposed feature or work item would be to the organization.  

How to make “sentiments” virtual

You can use a shared whiteboard such as those available in third-party tools such as Mural or conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Webex or Microsoft Teams. 

 

Conclusion

Gathering input from stakeholders in a remote environment can be challenging, but the activity’s importance makes it worth the effort.  While the Product Owner remains accountable for ordering the Product Backlog, getting feedback from stakeholders can provide insights on the features your customer is likely to appreciate most.  

 

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