There are many ways to gather requirements, in our opinion it boils down to what kind of medium they are in, to define how and what and when.
Let’s first discuss the different mediums through which you could gather requirements –
- Whiteboarding Sessions – This is literally when you have the key stakeholders in the same room, with a whiteboard and pen. And scribble through the requirements. Having it all in black and white is how you can make sure that everyone’s input is recorded in real-time.
- Conference Calls – This can happen when logistics prove a hurdle in getting everyone in the same room. One easily surmounted by having them dial into a conference number.
- Combination of 1 & 2 – sometimes it could be that you end up having to deal with some folks on the phone and a bunch of them in the room.
The most important part of dissecting a requirement gathering session is to be able to ask three questions before penning down a stakeholder’s requirement (Remember, business users love to keep giving you those requirements.Trust us they love to give you more than what might actually be required) –
- What is the Business Problem?
- Why is the current system not performing what is required? Or causing the business problem.
- Does the proposed business requirement resolve the business problem?
KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS. NO QUESTION IS SILLY. EVERYTHING YOU ASK IS A VALID QUESTION.
What to keep in mind when gathering requirements –
- Remembering the scope of the project under discussion – Here’s a practical example – When you go to the grocery store, sometimes you end up buying a bunch of stuff that you do not need. Likewise, as a Business Analyst, you need to be able to discern what requires attention. A business can have multiple requirements but it is key to filter them and reiterate what the scope of the conversation might be; this helps you get the requirements needed by the end of the call.
- Maintaining meeting minutes – After every meeting, critical information should be emailed ‘Just the way you understood it’ to the team that you met with, to make sure all participants are aware of the discussion & nothing was misunderstood during the session. This also helps participants that missed out on sessions catch up with the information that is needed.
- Articulate Communicator – It is vitally important that you are a clear and direct communicator. If you do not communicate clearly it could cause a lot of confusion and chaos during the calls. Misunderstood directions, and miscommunicated ideas could lead to the loss of your most valuable resource – Time.
- Know your stuff – It is important for a Business Analyst to go to a meeting knowing what is expected of them, what they need to be aware of, what they need to speak about. Research, Research, Research.
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