You need to know your client or customers, so you will need to do some background research. It’s important to demonstrate an understanding of the problem or challenge of the organisation and showing an interest, empathy or understanding can help you or your team to build a good relationship with your client.
This template will help go about conducting background research in a structured and disciplined way. You’ll find that the tool helps with the overall project process, and building a relationship with the client. The template will highlight gaps where you may need to do further research.
We call it “background” research, because this can be done fairly easily, without having to do surveys and interviews. The information should be easy to find from public documents, from the client’s website and social media or your library. You do of course need to make a judgement about what to include, and finally to evaluate the information.
How to use the template
- Download a copy of the word version here to your shared drive. Then in your shared drive, edit the template by simply answering the questions.
- Create a mindmap, and use the template as a checklist for what to include in your mindmap.
- Print it out, and use it to help when you have a meeting with the organisation.
When to use the template
As soon as you know what organisation you are working with, you can start gathering information about them.
Who should use the template
If you are in a project team, then work as a team to fill in the questions. This means everyone will have a full understanding of the organisation and its context. You can delegate different sections to different team members, but if you only do this, and not work as a team, the risk is that the team does not gain a collective shared picture.
What happens if you can’t find all the information?
The organisation may be able to provide it as part of the process of discovering new information in the project. You can always share the template, but be careful if you are making judgements and forming opinions that you do not want to share. You might find that working with the organisation on the template helps to clarify the aim and scope of the project.
Not every topic will apply to your project, so if a topic is not relevant, then skip it.
Of course, researching and discovering may be a key part of the project overall. You are usually not expected to know everything before you first meet. However, organisations will expect some basic background research to have been done before they meet you. This will help showcase your initiative from the offset.
Now that you have accessed this template, and started to fill it in, you can start building a good relationship with the external organisation. Doing a fair amount of background research before you meet the client for the first time will really help you and your client work well together.