The following are common Requirements Elicitation techniques used in Business Analysis. This is the process of collecting information from stakeholders so that the requirements may be documented for application development.
Brainstorming is a group elicitation technique where a problem or topic is presented to the group, and participants are asked to produce as many ideas to solve/address the topic as possible. As ideas are presented, a scribe documents the ideas and ensures the participants can see what is being captured. One of the fundamental rules in brainstorming is that ideas are ‘not judged’ or discussed while they are added to the list, so that momentum is not hindered. Participants are encouraged to use new ways of looking at the situation. If facilitated properly, brainstorming can be fun, engaging, and productive. It is an easy technique to use to generate a lot of ideas in a brief period of time.
Document Analysis – There is often a wealth of written information available to you from which you can discern potential requirements or even just to understand your stakeholders better. Internally you may have existing (albeit out of date) system documentation and vision documents written by your project management office (PMO) to justify your project. Externally there may be web sites describing similar systems, the sites of your competitors, or even textbooks describing the domain in which you’re currently working.
A focus group is composed of pre-qualified individuals whose objective is to discuss and comment on a topic. This is an opportunity for individuals to share their own perspectives and discuss them in a group setting. This could lead participants to re-evaluate their own perspectives considering others’ experiences. A trained moderator manages the administrative pre-work, facilitates the session, and produces the report. Observers may record or monitor the focus group but do not participate.
Interviews – You meet with someone to discuss their requirements. Although interviews are sometimes impromptu events, it is more common to schedule a specific time and place to meet and to provide at least an informal agenda to the interviewee. It is also common to provide a copy of your interview notes to the interviewee, along with some follow up questions, for their review afterward. One danger of interviews is that you’ll be told how the person ideally wants to work, not how they actually work. You should temper interviews with actual observation.
Observation – You sit and watch end users do their daily work to see what really happens in practice, instead of the often-idealistic view which they tell you in interviews. You should take notes and then ask questions after an observation session to discover why the end users were doing what they were doing at the time.
Workshop – A facilitated and highly structured meeting that has specific roles of facilitator, participant, scribe, and observer. Requirements workshops have defined rules of behavior including when to speak, and typically use a U-shaped table. It is customary practice to distribute a well-defined agenda and an information package which everyone is expected to read beforehand. Official meeting minutes are written and distributed after a workshop including a list of action items assigned during the session that the facilitator is responsible for ensuring are performed.
This is just a sampling of some of the common requirements elicitation techniques. Which ones have you had the most success with? Would you like to learn more about Requirements Elicitation training? Give us a call at 614-481-4345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.