Skip to main content

Generic Questions for Interviewing Stakeholders

As a professional instructor for business analysis and project management, I am often asked by students what questions they should ask stakeholders during the elicitation interviews. Of course the answer is that it depends on the solution scope. However, the business analysis team can use a list of generic questions as a start for all the interviews.

With this in mind, I have developed a list of generic questions. I started first with a mind map to organize my thoughts. With the purpose (Stakeholder Interview Questions) in the center of the map, I branched out in four need directions or threads: Business, Capabilities, Change, and System. For the first three threads, I associated targets of key stakeholder, user and sponsor. For needs involving a system, I associated targets of conditions and legacy; assistance from a systems analyst may be needed for these targets. Then for each target, I related question keywords. Note that the project manager may be the more appropriate role to cover the change branch since it deals with project execution questions even though solution scope changes may be discussed.

The mind map (Figure 1) is below, followed by a list of questions derived from the map keywords.


Key Stakeholder

Purpose is to capture business requirements that trace back to the stated business needs provided in the project vision and scope.

  • Describe how your organization fits into the company?
  • How does your organization contribute to the strategic plan of your company?
  • Where are your organization’s locations?
  • What is your management organization structure?
  • What are the processes of your organization? What business decisions (business rules) are made in your processes? Who owns the processes? What process measurements are used? What regulations are abided by?
  • Who are your suppliers and what do they provide your organization? Who are your customers (internal/external) and what does your organization provide them?
  • How does the organization measure its success?
  • How does the organization obtain feedback from its customers?
  • Are there any significant organization events during the year?
  • What is the single item which will make this organization more successful?
  • What is the single item which will make this organization less successful?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest) where would you put this organization regarding the risk to the company and why?
  • What doesn’t get enough (or gets too much) attention in the organization?

User Questions

Purpose is to capture user requirements for later analysis. During analysis, the business analyst develops solution requirements.
If a system solution is needed, then system functional requirements that describe the capabilities of the system are a result of the analysis. These system functional requirements must trace back to the user requirement which in turn trace back to the business requirements

  • Describe your role in the organization?
  • What are your major responsibilities? What business decisions (business rules) do you make in your job?
  • With whom do you interact to carry out your responsibilities?
  • What information do you use in your job? What forms do you use?
  • What computer systems do you use in your job? Are there any events for which the system provides alerts? Are there any new alerts needed?
  • How do you measure success in your job?
  • What is occurring that is helping/inhibiting you to do your job?
  • What skills are needed in your present job?
  • What training did you receive for your present job?
  • What would you change about the way you carry out your responsibilities?
  • What do you see as the major critical issues facing the organization?
  • What areas for improvement have you observed?

Condition Questions
(assuming system solution)

Purpose is to capture the environmental conditions that are needed along with the capabilities of the system. These are referred to as nonfunctional requirements or possibly quality of service requirements if used in a service level agreement.

Legacy Questions
(assuming migration from
an old to a new system)

Purpose is to capture system transition requirements needed for a smooth system implementation. These requirements are one-time events needed for production cutover.

  • Does a legacy system need to continue for a period of time after the new system is implemented?
  • Do any data files or business rules need to be converted upon implementation of the new system?

Sponsor Questions

Purpose is to capture feedback how change needs to be managed and if there is any possibility for improvements to the project.

  • In your opinion what are the project risks? What are the chances of success vs. failure? Why?
  • How will you measure the success of the project? How will you measure the success of the business impact of the project?
  • If you received additional funding for this project, what would you do with it?
  • If you received additional time for the project, what would you do?
  • What items could be discarded from the project plan and no one would notice or care?
  • If you could have anyone in the world work on this project, who would it be and why would you want that person?
  • What information do you want to keep abreast concerning this project?
  • How often and by what means would you prefer to be informed about this project?

I recommend the business analysis team start with this generic list and augment it with solution scope specific questions. During or after elicitation, the team then needs to validate and analyze the answers and develop solution requirements using appropriate modeling and traceability techniques. Good luck with your interviews.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below

Mark Monteleone holds a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in computing science from Texas A&M University. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), a Certified ScrumMaster (CSMTM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPOTM) by the Scrum Alliance. He holds an Advanced Master’s Certificate in Project Management and a Business Analyst Certification (CBA®) from George Washington University School of Business. Mark is also a member of the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE) and the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). Mark is the President of Monteleone Consulting, LLC and can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].