One of the key facilitation techniques we engage in with all our customers is to start with “pain points”.  As part of every planning engagement, we start with a group session with a broad variety of stakeholders.  Using one of our senior strategy consultants as the facilitator and a very low tech approach (e.g. whiteboards, post-it notes, magic markers) we work with a business to identify, prioritize and map their current pain points to a Microsoft technology solution.

Why do we start the discussion this way?  There are several reasons:

  • Most customers don’t know a lot about Microsoft technologies when they start working with us, so asking them “What would you like to do with the product?” isn’t helpful for them.
  • We want a broad group of diverse stakeholders to participate, so we need a language that everyone can understand and relate
  • Most participants do have a laundry list of things they hate about their job, especially when it comes to managing information.
  • In many organizations, executives have no idea about the little things that bug people on the front lines so encouraging a dialogue between executives and workers around things that bug them can sometimes bring out very interesting discussions.
  • Pain points point to quick wins – if you can reduce someone’s pain through a redesigned process, automated solution, etc. it creates a tangible success story.
  • Pain points are a great ice breaker – people love the opportunity to talk about what’s wrong in their organization!

We do these workshops in about 2 hours with groups of 10-20 employees from across an organization.  We can typically gather about 100 pain points in one session that are then grouped, prioritized and mapped to potential objectives and solutions.

So what are the most common pain points we find?

  • Lots of content generated, does anyone read it?
  • Content does expire!
  • Content doesn’t align to brand
  • Lots of duplicate documents – which one is the master?
  • Change is too slow because IT is bottlenecked
  • Manual and paper processes waste people’s time
  • Impossible to collaborate with external partners
  • Fileservers are clogged with old files
  • No one reads the intranet
  • Intranet doesn’t provide me any value
  • Need to log into many systems
  • Hard to find anything

Do these sound familiar to your workplace?  Perhaps we can help…