Interview answers to questions regarding demands on development resource

How would handle a senior business stakeholder that demands more than you can deliver with in a certain timeframe?

If you have had experience in managing projects and products using scrum (or some other agile management frame work) then this would be your opportunity to demonstrate that you understand the benefits of scrum to manage stakeholders at all levels (see - Part #6 How Everyone Can Get Involved in Agile). Other methodologies you’ve worked with could be used to aid in you demonstrating your ability to manage development teams and business stakeholders.
Your answer to the interviewer could include some of the following Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Do not be intimidated,
  • Do not make commitments or promises before you have had the opportunity to analyse and estimate the request.
  • Do not be afraid to escalate to your line manager - see Being up front during an interview .
  • Do ask for time to review the question.
  • Do include other stakeholders – perhaps in a workshop to scope and confirm the work that needs to be done.
  • Do give a timeframe when you will report back your findings with options.
  • Do ensure that the technical team are fully involved in discussions before you make a proposal.
Things to be considered when you give feedback to the business stakeholder:
  • Breaking what was being demanded into bite size chunks and estimating each chunk in order to give feedback on how much resource would be required to meet the deadline. refer to: How d' you eat an elephant
  • Explaining what could be achieved with the current resource within a required timeframe.
  • Referring to the technical team’s currents commitments and giving the option for less important tasks to be substituted for what is currently being asked.
  • Suggesting that if we hired X amount of contract resource then we could possible meet the required deadlines.
  • If the request seemed large – then time might be required to do research with the aim of estimating the amount of additional effort required to meet the request.
  • If the request seemed small – then consider offering overtime so to meet the deadline.
Remember it's your logical thought pattern that your answer will be judged on.
See other Interview Questions for Product Managers

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, there are too often times when it is *not* 'your logical thought pattern that your answer will be judged on', at least immediately. I have experienced many cases where non-business concerns in the shape of power plays, personal agendas and organizational politics of the worst kind attempt to intimidate product managers into agreeing to impossible results. In these difficult circumstances, it is all the more important to *present choices*, and to do so carefully and rationally, without buying into the stakeholder's play.