Personas let you organize material. Personas bring clarity to

  • What actors in the system need to accomplish.
  • Their relationships.
  • Their skills or lack thereof.
  • Personas can be non-human systems such as machines and regulatory systems.

Sez who?

When I’m a new person working with a client, of course I have very little credibility. Who am I to have an opinion about any of this?

What I do is work with subject matter experts in the company. I make sure that each group of personas has a champion. This is someone in the company who’s a recognized expert in this area. So, when it comes time to approve the personas, really my role is to:

  • Facilitate the discussion and ensure what’s in the SME’s head is articulated in the best way possible.
  • Ensure that the personas interlock correctly.

Andy’s personas formula

  • P 1 – Eighty per cent of the persona’s job. List education, age and job title. Career path may be useful as well (as in ‘this person is usually in the job for 18 months).
  • P 2 – List the person to whom the position reports, and what pressures that boss has on the persona. Also list the peers, subordinates or external actors placing pressure on the client from below.
  • P 3 – List tasks. Again, don’t dump the job description here. Focus on the key things the person accomplishes to do the work of the organization.

Here are three examples of how I do personas:

Pharma Sales Manager Persona

Tom is a New Jersey-based regional product manager for kidney dialysis equipment. His goal for the near future is to improve sales of equipment refurbishment contracts to existing customers.  He is 33 and has a university degree in business administration.

Pressure above and below

  • He is under pressure from the product owner to deliver improved profitability in a saturated market.
  • Tom is under pressure from below because of frequent turn over in his sales team and clients requesting discounts. His product is not well differentiated.


  • Verify info on contracts are correct.
  • If contract information is wrong, get answers then modify the deal or the contract.
  • Ensure the sales team is reaching sales and growth targets by managing and coaching the team.
  • Review the team’s sales pipeline 
  • Present reports and realistic forecasts to management 
  • Render aid to other sales teams
  • Facilitate team communications

You can add plenty of strategic stuff, but it’s best to stay focused on tasks. The point is to not re-write the job description. List what Tom does on a daily basis.  

If you think of a dictionary, ultimately it will be circular. Well, the tasks lists for your personas map should work the same way. You should be able to follow the impact of tasks from one persona top another.

Here’s a second persona for printer

Printer Persona

Pierre is responsible for sending proof to client; ensures that physical media is printed with the right image, on the right materials, with colour accuracy and finished correctly, cut to the right size and in the correct quantity. 

Once printing is complete this role is responsible for wrapping and packaging the finished products and for shipping and pick-ups at the printing facility.

Pressure above and below

  • Under pressure from the Production Manager to both cut waste and keep the presses turning as idle presses make no money
  • Under pressure from the ultimate client due to vague or changing specs, shifting timelines and ad-hoc approval processes. Clients will try to make the printer responsible for their uncaught errors.


  • Ensure that files are the correct versions
  • Provide galley proof.
  • Ensure client sign off before printing
  • Ensure that the finished product meets all specifications
  • Ship product on time or call for pick up

Here’s a third persona, the operations manager for company that owns media such as advertising billboards

Operations Manager Persona

Bill is responsible for ensuring that the bill posters replace old copy with new copy on time and correctly; bill posting may be subcontracted and this must be managed; access to properties may need to be scheduled; ensure POP photos are taken; responsible for ensuring filler levels are adequate; schedule maintenance; that the inventory is in good condition, not vandalized and operating; managing and ensuring the logistics for special promotions such as street teams and overseeing the installation of the structures.

  • Under pressure from Chartists – Client change requests and load balancing work orders.
  • Under pressure from bill posters – Managing crew, inventory, supplies, repairs and ensuring work orders are completed on time, with the correct copy in the correct order.


  • Distributes work orders
  • Manages copy
  • Manages construction and other materials
  • Ensures that the schedule posting dates are respected
  • Ensuring Proof of Performance photos are completed
  • Approving POP photos
  • Approve time sheets
  • Property owner communications
  • Maintenance communications
  • Contract with electricians and other specialists for major repairs and installations
  • Communicating special instructions