This article discusses the question of how many interviewers are needed to carry out an ITSM Maturity Assessment. It includes pointers on the benefits and drawbacks of three different approaches, and shows how to get a successful outcome whether you have one, two or no interviewers involved.
It's important to understand the different interview options that are available when planning an assessment. There are two dimensions in play: quality and cost. However, as we’ll see, how many interviewers are involved isn’t the only factor governing these two variables: with good organization and preparation the different approaches can all be made to work.
Let’s look at all three options in turn.
In a two-interviewer set up, the first interviewer usually focuses on engaging with the interviewee by putting the questions or statements to them. The interviewer will have the questions and / or statements relating to the process, function or other IT element being assessed in front of them – usually on a laptop and usually in a spreadsheet.
This first interviewer may go ‘off-piste’ and delve deeper with follow-up questions. He or she will then capture the main response of the person being interviewed. By ‘main response’ we mean either
The first interviewer, then, does most of the talking, and only needs to capture a ‘yes’, a ‘no’ or a score (1 -5 in the Zeno software, see screenshots below) relating to each question or statement.
The second interviewer often joins in the conversation to follow up on a specific point, but their main task is to capture details of the response being given, plus their own version of the yes, no or number score.
In a one-interviewer set up, the interviewer focuses on engaging with the interviewee by putting the questions or statements to them and will then capture their main response (yes, no or score). The interviewer also needs to capture notes on the responses given so that they can be followed up or reconsidered later. The notes are also used to give context for an answer when it is found later that two or more interviewees have given very different responses.
Mitigation of the disadvantages of using one interviewer boils down to two things –
Here’s how we do this in Zeno, but you can use the same kind of approach using a spreadsheet.
1 Capture the 'main response'. In this case the user clicks on 'Agree' and either adds a comment or moves on to the next statement. The following sequence of actions would be used irrespective of how many interviewers are involved.
2. Prepare to add additional comments. In this case the user clicks the 'down' arrow to add a comment.
3. Add additional comment. The comment is added and saved. Also note that lots of space has been set aside to capture detailed notes, without having to scroll right. In the case of Zeno, these notes can be directly exported into a report (after some editing if necessary)
In a no-interviewer set up, the assessment questions and statements (or a link to them) are sent to each respondent. The participants respond to each statement and question, add their own explanatory notes, and complete the questionnaire in their own time (subject to any project constraints). The responses are then collated.
Traditionally, self-assessment has only been used with a cut-down set of statements (for example, in the case of ITIL) but as we shall see, self-assessment can now be extended much further.
Mitigation of the disadvantages of using no interviewers can mostly be resolved by using in-context help. In a spreadsheet this would be done by adding comments to cells. In Zeno, comprehensive in-context help is built-in.
Although we've used Zeno to demonstrate some of the principles, the same effects can be achieved with spreadsheets. The quality and usefulness of an ITSM assessment no longer has to be so strongly influenced by how many interviewers are used. With good guidance and some practice, effective assessments can now be carried out more frequently and more cheaply.
Maturity assessment is more than just a series of interviews, of course, and you can read about the wider context in the Visual Guide to ITSM Maturity Assessment.
In this series on interviewing we’ll cover:
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments or contact me via LinkedIn.
If you need assessment software, you might want to see what Zeno has to offer.
Dan is the co-founder of Zeno. He likes finding new ways to improve processes and working life in general.
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