Requirement Elicitation: The Soul of Business Analysis
March 05, 2018
When tasked with building a solution to achieve a desired result, have you ever found it difficult to settle on the correct approach? If you have, we believe that you will find the information in this article enlightening.
Requirement Elicitation: The Soul of Business Analysis
Requirement elicitation is a systematic approach to the gathering of requirements for a project. Using this technique, you gather requirements with the goal of capturing them in a usable format for analysis and tracking. During requirement elicitation, you might gather requirements through interviews, questionnaires, prototypes, use cases and group brainstorming sessions. You may also use a combination of different gathering methods. If the goal of the project is to replace a tool that people currently use to do their jobs, you may gather requirements simply by watching workers use the existing tool. Watching the current tool at work can help you understand its shortcomings and devise a way to create something superior.
Understanding User Roles
Here at TA Digital, we often design systems that users with many different roles will ultimately utilize. We therefore need to understand how those roles will interact with the systems we build. We conduct one-on-one and group interviews with users. Those sessions often lead to major breakthroughs that require further research. As we extend our research, we sometimes find that our clients are unable to answer all of our questions. In those situations, requirement gathering becomes a deeper, lengthier process.
Defining a Requirement
At TA Digital, we use a technique called “SMART” to identify an actionable project requirement.
Specific: The requirement must be clear and understandable.
Measurable: There must be a metric that we can use to confirm that we have successfully fulfilled the requirement.
Attainable: We must have the resources available to ensure that we can fulfill the requirement successfully.
Relevant: The requirement must align with the client’s business goals.
Timely: It must be possible to fulfill the requirement within the project’s allotted development time.
Knowing When Requirement Elicitation Is Complete
During requirement gathering, you’ll quickly gain an understanding of a project’s scope. You’ll outline the requirements as you understand them, and you’ll have an internal discussion with your developers to ensure that you can devote the resources necessary to fulfill those requirements. After obtaining clarification from the client about any requirements that still cause confusion, you’ll finalize the requirement list and send it to the client for approval.
You’ll know that your requirement list is complete if it satisfies the following criteria.
- The requirements should align with the client’s business objectives and with the views of that business’s stakeholders.
- The requirements should take the views of all stakeholders into account as the views of the company’s stakeholders and management may differ.
- The requirements should meet the client’s standards for quality.
- The requirements must be attainable using the time and resources at your disposal.
- The requirements must meet the approval of the client’s stakeholders.
Finalizing the Requirement List
One of the great things about a requirement list that’s complete and well written is that it naturally lends itself to a natural, logical workflow. When you read your completed requirement list, you’ll begin to see where sprints, milestones, product demos, evaluations and revisions would fit.
You’ll most likely encounter a few situations in which you need to obtain clarification from the client about certain requirements. Once you’ve reached that stage, though, you’ll have already perfected and finalized most of the requirements. At TA Digital, we like to say that having the correct approach is at least half of what makes a project successful. If you have the right requirements — and you understand those requirements — half of your work is done.
Requirement Elicitation Is the Foundation of a Successful Project
If you are a current or aspiring Business Analyst, requirement elicitation is a skill that can make you very successful — and the best way to improve your skill in requirement gathering is by learning how to ask the right questions. Once you’ve gathered the correct requirements, the next most important skill is learning how to prioritize those requirements while keeping the client in the loop. When you master those two points, the business analysis process becomes seamless and consistent.
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