DonnaM » Blog Archive » Focus groups

Focus groups

I went to a focus group/workshop today. Normally I’m not a big fan of these for requirements gathering – I have previously experienced the well-documented problems of users not being able to verbalise what they do, dominant personalities etc.

For this one, I had done a set of user interviews as input – around 25 hours of interviewing. I had some great discussions, saw some interesting things, had a few good insights, and came up with a good set of user requirements.

Interestingly, after a full day discussion, with around 20 people (programmers, users and facilitators), the end result was the same set of requirements I had, with a lot more person hours…

3 Responses to “Focus groups”

  1. James Robertson Says:

    Any ideas about why was this particular session so successful?

    I too typically seen less-than-great results from focus groups…

  2. Eric Scheid Says:

    Using focus groups for requirements gathering is like using card sorts for usability testing.

    Good tool, bad use.

    Focus groups are best used earlier in the project, before business objectives have been nailed down. Use them to guide and inform strategy, not specify tactics. They should be used to identify issues, conflicts, questions; not requirements, specifications, answers.

  3. Donna Maurer Says:

    James – I’m glad you asked that question. On thinking about it, I suspect that the success of the focus group was because I had provided the requirements for discussion. So, rather than trying to pull requirements out of air, there was something concrete to discuss. I must think on this further…

    Eric – you know that I know that focus groups aren’t suited to this, but I’m helping on someone else’s project, and this is their standard method.