Personas help product teams get on the same page, but they take time. Internal stakeholder interviews is an essential component to creating personas, but these stakeholders are often busy putting out fires or other events that take their priority. Personas provide insight into a user’s needs and the ‘why’ behind their desires. It illustrates their frustrations and drives empathy for everyone to see clearly. It isn’t about the product; it’s about the experience they have using the product. That experience translates to $$$ and even busy stakeholders care about that.

The process of creating personas requires cross-team collaboration, and this begins with gather buy in from key stakeholders. Executive sponsorship helps draw in those key stakeholders. We conduct interviews and align their knowledge and expectations regarding the user. Upon verification of what we hear, we report back and level-set all interested parties. It is then that we create the proto-persona.

Proto-personas differ from personas in that they aren’t based on field research but crafted from the internal subject matter experts’ collective knowledge. However, they do form the basis of foundational understanding of the users that can be field tested in a drive toward actual personas. Therefore, to generate personas, proto-personas need to be researched in the field.

If you’ve been struggling to get resources to research personas, I’d recommend hurdling that obstacles and proving its value through proto-personas. But don’t stop there because stakeholder and subject matter experts aren’t the user.