Monday, November 23, 2009

Focus Groups

Our latest class assignment (4.1) was to use the Level 3 Evaluation Method handout from class to discuss focus group strengths, weaknesses, and general comments associated with using focus groups.

I led a focus group for computer hardware, software, and firmware issues that the engineering community needed to resolve. The group was made up of service managers, field engineers, remote engineers, technical writers, graphics artists, researchers, supply chain, and logistics people.

The focus group was virtual with people attending from all over the world meeting once per month for one hour. The amount of information gathered at these meetings was tremendous and it led to product quality improvements and customer satisfaction resolutions that no other team inside HP was able to identify because we were close to the customer and worked with our customer base weekly listening to their concerns and implementing solutions.




Can be specifically focused on a particular topic.

Can be too focused on a topic and thus lose the “forest for the trees”. The danger is in getting too in depth to the point of having useful, meaningful information.

Ensure that the topics picked lend themselves to open discussion so that others are willing to share their expertise.

Used to create troubleshooting content for a product after product release.

Can take several months before enough useful data is collected to create troubleshooting scenarios that are realistic and useful to the student.

Should ensure some type of troubleshooting material is in place upon project release so that the service technicians have something to worth with in the field.

Can obtain methodologies used by others in the field. Quickly discover what others are encountering when solving system-wide problems.

It is possible that certain geographies experience different problems than another region. Make note of such anomalies and define if they are geographic, cultural, economic, fiscal, or other concerns.

It can be too easy to take the first instance of a problem and assume that all other problems behave the same way.

Provides subject matter experts who can help you write your material. This makes the content relevant and applicable to actual problems with the product.

SMEs time can be difficult to maintain on a consistent basis. Must have a backup plan in place for such a concern.

Overall, focus groups can be a rich source of information BUT they can also lead a team in a direction completely out of character for the problem that needs solving.

No comments:

Post a Comment