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Now that your plan is complete, the team is aligned on goals, and roles have been determined, it’s time to start your program. Below is a checklist to get you started:

  • Recruit Sponsor Users. Not sure where to start? See the Pro Tips and FAQs for more detailed guidance.
  • Set expectations with potential Sponsor Users. Common activities may include Enterprise Design Thinking workshops, sneak peeks into our latest offerings, participatory design sessions, surveys, usability testing, contextual inquiries, and interviews. Time commitments can vary from 1-2 hours per quarter up to 5 hours per week. A good average is 60-90 min every couple of weeks.
  • Have users opt in to the program. Their consent to participate should be formalized via a feedback agreement. It’s okay to brief them on the program and benefits, but users are required to sign an agreement before confidential information is shared.
  • All agreements should be tracked so other teams can see who is actively participating in your program.
  • Hold a kick-off meeting with each user to ensure everyone is on aligned on program expectations, including goals, activities, and timeframe.

Pro Tips

  • When recruiting Sponsor Users, provide clients with program details and requirements to gauge their interest and availability.
  • Ask Sales, Service, and Business Partners if you can “listen in” on their conversations with clients or join site visits.
  • Keep a pipeline of Sponsor Users so you can collect a healthy mix of feedback for your offering.


  • There are a variety of ways to recruit Sponsor Users, ranging from recruiting through conferences or events to working with members of your broader product team. Most often, different members of your team may already have established relationships with users and clients. Communicating and building a relationship with these team members who have access to clients can help you recruit Sponsor Users.
  • There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Some business units have Sponsor User program managers. Other teams rely heavily on their product managers, research guides, or account teams. The most important thing is that your team identifies a person who has the bandwidth, access, and can be held accountable.
  • There is a small number of clients on IBM's denied parties list (DPL) with whom employees cannot engage. If you are not an IBM employee, check with your legal or agreements team to inquire about specific restrictions your company may have.
  • At IBM, once the client signs the agreement, it covers any user participant employed by that company. In most instances, you do not need individually-signed agreements for each user participant. There are some countries that require individual consent in addition to a larger, company-wide agreement. If you are not an IBM employee, check with your legal or agreements team to inquire about specific agreement requirements and guidelines.