The very first thing a Business Analyst has to do is find out what the client needs. Now, the main question that comes up is how to find out what the client wants.
This blog will answer the question above by talking about techniques for gathering requirements.
What Is Requirements Elicitation?
It’s all about getting information from the people who matter. Elicitation is the process of getting information from people about what they need after the business analysis has talked to them. It’s also possible to call it a requirement collecting.
To find out what people need, you can either talk to them directly or do some study or experiments. The things that happen can be planned, unexpected, or both.
Workshops and trials are among the things that are planned.
Random things happen that weren’t planned. Such events don’t need to be announced ahead of time. For instance, you go straight to the client’s site and start talking about the needs, even though there wasn’t a set schedule made public ahead of time.
Following tasks are the part of elicitation:
Prepare for Elicitation: The purpose here is to understand the elicitation activity scope, select the right techniques, and plan for appropriate resources.
Conduct Elicitation: The goal here is to look for and find knowledge about change.
Confirm Elicitation Results: This step makes sure that the information gathered during the elicitation process is correct.
We hope you now have a better idea of what requirement elicitation is. Now we will talk about the techniques for gathering needs.
Requirements Elicitation Techniques
Several methods can be used for elicitation, but the ones that are most often used are listed below:
#1) Stakeholder Analysis
Stakeholders can be suppliers, team members, clients, or anyone else who will be affected by the project. The people who will be affected by the system are found through stakeholder analysis.
The goal of this method is to come up with new thoughts and resolve a problem. Domain experts and subject matter experts can be part of the planning session. A lot of information and ideas give you a lot of understanding, and you can pick from different ideas.
Most of the time, this session is a conversation around the table. Everyone should have the same amount of time to say what they think.
Brainstorming technique is used to answer the below questions:
- What do you expect from a system?
- How does the suggested system development deal with risks, and what can be done to keep those risks from happening?
- What rules does a business or organisation have to follow?
- What choices are there to fix the problems that are happening now?
- What exactly should we do to make sure that this problem doesn’t come up again?
There are different stages to brainstorming, which are:
There are some basic rules for this technique which should be followed to make it a success:
- The time limit for the session should be predefined.
- List the players ahead of time. One should have between 6 and 8 people at the session.
- Everyone who is going to be there should be able to understand the plan.
- The people who are taking part should be told what is expected of them.
- Once you have all the information, put the ideas together and get rid of the ones that are already there.
- When the final list is ready, it should be shared with other people.
- The brainstorming session led to new ways of thought.
- I had a lot of thoughts in a short time.
- Encourages everyone to take part.
- People can take part in discussing ideas.
- There may be more than one identical idea.
This is the most common way to find out what requirements someone has. In order for business analysts and stakeholders to build good relationships, they should hold interviews. This method has the interviewer ask stakeholders questions to get information. Most of the time, a one-on-one discussion is used.
It’s called an organised interview if the interviewer has a set of questions ready to go.
When the interviewer doesn’t have a set plan or set of questions, it’s called an “unstructured interview.”
The 5 Why technique can help you do well in an interview. You’re done with the interview process when you get answers to all of your “Why” questions. People give more knowledge when they are asked open-ended questions. The person being interviewed can’t just say “Yes” or “No.”
You can answer closed questions with a yes or no answer, or you can use the areas to get proof of your answer.
- The main goal of the talks should be clear.
- Find out who will be interviewed ahead of time.
- The person being interviewed should know what the goals of the interview are.
- You should think of interview questions ahead of time.
- The interview site should be set in stone ahead of time.
- It’s important to say how long you have.
- The researcher should put the data in order and check with the people they talked to as soon as possible to make sure they understood.
- Talking with partners interactively.
- The right-away follow-up to make sure the interviewer got it.
- Make it easier for people to participate and build ties by getting to know the stakeholders.
- It takes time to plan and carry out conversations.
- All of the players must be committed.
- There are times when training is needed to do interviews well.
#4) Document Analysis/Review
This method is used to gather information about the business by reading the materials that explain the business environment. This study helps to make sure that the current solutions are working and also helps to figure out what the business needs.
Looking over business plans, technical documents, problem reports, current requirement documents, and other types of documents is part of document analysis. This is helpful when updating a system that is already in place. For migration jobs, this method works well.
Comparing the AS-IS process to the TO-BE process is a meaningful way to find holes in the system. This study is also practical when the person who first made the documentation is no longer in the system.
- Current and future processes can be compared with the help of papers that already exist.
- Documents that already exist can be used as a starting point for further research.
- It’s possible that old papers won’t be updated.
- Some existing papers may not be up to date at all.
- The people who worked on the existing papers might not be able to give information.
- This process takes a lot of time.
#5) Focus Group
A focus group is a way to get information from a group about a product or service. The focus group is made up of experts in the field. The goal of this group is to talk about the subject and share knowledge. This event is run by a moderator.
The moderator should work with business scientists to look at the results and let the stakeholders know what they found.
If a discussion is needed about a product that is still being made, the result will be to either change the standards that are already in place or come up with new ones. It will be talked about how to release a product that is ready to ship.
How Focus groups are different than group interviews?
Focus groups aren’t like interviews where everyone answers together. Instead, they’re more like discussions where people can give feedback on a certain topic. Usually, the results of the session are looked at and shared. A focus group usually has between 6 and 12 people. Make more than one focus group if you want more people to join.
- You can get information in one meeting instead of interviewing people one-on-one.
- A healthy atmosphere is one where people are actively discussing with each other.
- People can learn from what others have done.
- It might be hard to get everyone together at the same time and place.
- People who take part in this online will only be able to connect with you in certain ways.
- Focus group talks need to be led by a Skilled Moderator.
#6) Interface Analysis
It is possible to look at the system, people, and processes with interface analysis. This research is used to figure out how the parts share information with each other. One way to explain an interface is as a link between two parts. This is shown in the picture below:
The interface analysis focus on the below questions:
- Who is going to use the interface?
- What kind of information will be sent?
- When are you going to send the data?
- How should the interface be put together?
- Why do we need the link? Is there a way to finish the job without using the interface?
- Give conditions that were missed.
- Find out about rules or interface standards.
- Find places where it could put the project at risk.
- If internal components are not present, the analysis is hard to do.
- It can’t be used as an elicitation task on its own.
The main goal of the watch session is to learn about the things that other people do, the tools they use, and the activities they do.
The observation plan makes sure that everyone involved knows why the observation session is happening, agrees on what they think will happen, and that the session lives up to their hopes. The people who are taking part need to know that their performance is not being graded.
The watcher should write down all the things that are done and how long it takes others to do them so that the observer can do the same thing. After the meeting, the BA will look over the results and get back in touch with the people who were there. You can be busy or passive when you observe.
To actively observe someone is to ask them questions and try to do the work that they are doing.
When you do passive observation, you sit with other people and just watch how they do their work without making any assumptions about it.
- The viewer will be able to learn something useful about the work.
- It’s easy to find places to make improvements.
- People might become agitated.
- Observers might not get a clear picture because the people being watched might change how they work.
- Activities that depend on knowledge can’t be seen.
Prototyping is used to find needs that are missing or not clear. Prototypes are made and shown to the client often as part of this method so that the client can get an idea of what the final product will look like. You can make a mock-up of a site with a prototype and use graphics to explain the process.
- This picture shows what the result looks like.
- Early feedback can come from stakeholders.
- The prototyping method may take a long time if the system or process is very complicated.
- It’s possible for stakeholders to focus on the details of how the solution will be designed instead of the needs that every solution must meet.
#9) Joint Application Development (JAD)/ Requirement Workshops
Compared to other methods, this one is more formal and focused on the process. These are planned talks with end users, project managers, and subject matter experts (SMEs). This is used to describe, make clear, and finish standards.
This method can be broken down into the following groups:
- Formal Workshops: These are very structured meetings that are usually only held with a small group of people. The major goal of this workshop is to define, create, improve, and finalise business requirements.
- Business Process Improvement Workshops: These are not as official as the one above. Here, current business processes are looked at and ways to make them better are found.
- The documentation is finished within hours and sent back to the members right away so they can look it over.
- You can get proof right away about what must be done.
- Successfully gathered needs from a big group in a short amount of time.
- When problems and questions are brought up in front of everyone who has an interest in them, consensus can be reached.
- The event could go badly if stakeholders aren’t available.
- How well things go depends on how skilled the guide is.
- There can’t be a class goal if there are too many people there.
When stakeholders are given a survey or questionnaire, a list of questions is used to find out what they think. After stakeholders’ answers are gathered, the data is analysed to find out what the stakeholders are most interested in.
Questions should be based on very important risks. Questions should be clear and to the point. As soon as the poll is ready, let the people who agreed to take it know and remind them to do so.
Two types of questions can be used here:
- Open-ended: Instead of picking an answer from a list, the person answering can write their own answer. This is helpful, but it takes a lot of time because it’s hard to figure out what the answers mean.
- Closed-Ended: All the questions have answers that have already been thought out, and the person answering have to pick one of those answers. You can have a multiple-choice question or a question that ranks things from “not important” to “very important.”
- It’s simple to get information from a lot of people.
- It takes less time for the players to answer.
- You can get more correct information this way than from interviews.
- Not all stakeholders may fill out the polls.
- Some people may not understand the questions being asked.
- More thought is needed to answer open-ended questions.
- Based on the answers given by participants, it may be necessary to do follow-up polls.
- If you look at all of those techniques, the picture below shows the five most popular ones used for elicitation.
We’ve looked at a number of different techniques for gathering requirements in this lesson. Now we’ll look at some different types of elicitation techniques questioning questions.
Here are some examples that will help you get ready for the interview:
- You have been asked to gather needs for a software system that different parts of an organisation will use. The organisation is split into N sections, and you need to get requirements from each one. How will you get needs as a Business Analyst?
- Have you used methods for gathering requirements? Yes, then tell me which one you think works best and why.
- What were the hardest things about elicitation for you?
With your present projects and what you’ve learned in the past, please try to figure out the answers and post them in the comments. Tell us how you plan to answer the questions above.