We know listening is important—typically it’s what our stakeholders have to share that we most need to hear when eliciting and validating scope or requirements. At the same time, as business analysts, we cannot be passive flies on the wall.
My team has been looking for ways to make sure we understand what our business stakeholders really want from each software feature that we develop. We felt that we had to solve a basic communication problem but didn’t know how to approach that.
An often-cited bugaboo of many projects is scope creep-the unrestrained expansion of requirements as the project proceeds. Yet requirements development is about gaining an ever-growing understanding of requirements. So, isn't scope creep normal? Find out in this week's column as Ellen Gottesdiener explores exactly how to keep scope under control.
Heather Shanholtzer interviewed Seilevel's Joy Beatty about the benefits of using visual modeling instead of traditional requirements documents and why writing good requirements might not be your best point of focus.
How often have you gone down the road of developing software almost to completion only to discover new requirements that require significant design and coding changes at the last minute? Requirements analysis is not just writing down what customers say they want. It's about digging down and discovering what they need. Without real analysis, our requirements often end up as poorly defined lists, anemic mock-ups, and incomplete or inconsistent models. Jack Jones spotlights one simple technique to discover these needs: Ask "why?" When the customer states a requirement, ask "why?" to delve down a level to discover their real problem, need, or opportunity. You may find you need to repeat "why?" a number of times. Join Jack to explore the very real consequences of not comprehending customer needs early in the process, and practice better communications techniques to avoid unnecessary requirements and scope changes.
According to the Standish group, 64 percent of features in systems are rarely-or never-used. How does this happen? Today, the work of eliciting the customers' true needs, which remains elusive, can be enhanced using data-driven requirements techniques. Brandon Carlson introduces data collection approaches and analysis techniques you can employ on your projects right away. Find out how to instrument existing applications and develop new requirements based on operational profiles of the current system. Learn to use A/B testing-a technique for trying out and analyzing alternative implementations-on your current system to determine which new features will deliver the most business value. With these tools at hand, you can help users and business stakeholders decide the best approaches and best new features to meet their real needs. Now is the time to take the guesswork out of requirements and get "Just the facts, Ma'am."
When software products are late to launch, a practical solution is to drop features from a release while still delivering a product your customers will love. If part of your process is to tie business objectives to product features, you'll have at hand the information needed to decide how to proceed-as well as a guide to prioritize development efforts throughout the project. Joy Beatty explains how to elicit measurable business objectives from stakeholders. She demonstrates how to write statements that describe how a feature contributes to business objectives and ways to assign a business value to each feature. Armed with this data, stakeholders can compare features quantitatively, taking emotion out of scoping decisions. As a reminder of the techniques discussed, Joy shares a Business Objectives Model quick reference for you to take home and use in your requirements elicitation sessions.
In this session Paul Desantis takes you through the important aspects of requirements discovery, including sampling documentation, research, observation, questionnaires, interviews, prototyping, and joint planning.