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Now that your program has started, here is a checklist of things to keep in mind:

  • Set and stick to meeting agendas.
  • Track your program’s activities and communications with users.
  • Use your team’s central file storage location. Make sure the appropriate permissions are in place to safeguard data privacy.
  • Sponsor Users may agree to a particular time commitment or cadence of meetings, but be flexible if schedules change.
  • Encourage users to interact with the product or service during research activities. This helps ground feedback and research in reality.
  • Hold Playbacks for Sponsor Users so they can see how the experience has evolved based on their feedback. This will also help make them feel like part of the team.
  • Share findings and recommendations to your team regularly via Playbacks.

Pro Tips:

  • Always be professional, courteous, and trustworthy. Remember, Sponsor Users are often existing or potential clients.
  • Always be considerate of users’ time and convey your gratitude for their participation.
  • Personal Information (PI) should only be collected if relevant and necessary for your business purpose(s) and should only be made available to other project team members on a need-to-know basis. For more details on PI, see the FAQs below.
  • Don’t let too much time go by without communicating with you Sponsor Users. You don’t want them to wonder if the program is still active.
  • Stay up-to-date on each client and their potential issues.
  • Don’t make promises about features or release dates.


  • While there is no limit to the number of programs, IBM's Design Program Office recommends individuals should only participate in one program at a time. An individual’s participation should last for no longer than six months. After their participation ends, sponsor users should have a six-month ‘no contact’ period before beginning a new program. These guidelines will help us avoid overburdening participants and diversify the opinions and clients represented in our programs.
  • At IBM, the Feedback Program Agreement does not expire. It can be terminated at any time, however, by written notice from IBM or the client. If you are not an IBM employee, check with your legal or agreements teams to understand the specifics of your feedback agreement.
  • Store your research plan, design or testing artifacts, schedule of user sessions, anonymized notes, or recorded session files from user sessions, client quotes, playbacks, etc. in your designated central storage place.
  • Personal inform is information that can be used on its own or combined with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person, or to identify an individual in context. Personally identifiable information is information that can be but is not limited to name, education, background, age, gender, company name, position (e.g. CEO), nationality, picture, video (of face), voice (audio), address, very specific interview content (particular projects, particular products), etc.
  • Personal information that is anonymized, aggregated, or de-identified so that it cannot be attributable to an individual is no longer considered personal information.
  • For now, only Germany has an expiration limit.Personal information needs to be deleted 2 years after the first interview has been conducted or first data has been collected and 2 years after the agreement has been signed.
  • Committing to a particular feature or release date is not part of the Sponsor User discussions. If they ask, be prepared to diplomatically steer the conversation away from that topic.
  • Yes, as long as the participant agrees. You should ask the user at the beginning of each and every session. NOTE: Ensure you follow local country guidelines for consent. E.g., In the European Union, an additional signed consent form is required.