Small application development projects are lighter and usually don’t require such extensive process standards, advanced methods, governance, documentation, planning and management that larger IT projects do.
But don’t make the mistake of skipping the requirements altogether!
Start by quickly identifying the high-level objectives, the boundary or scope, and developing a basic plan for requirements elicitation. Then facilitate the requirements discovery sessions with the key subject matter experts. It may take a number of meetings over a few days – or even one or sometimes two weeks — but the interactive, facilitated sessions are essential. At IAG, we also recommend a paired-analyst approach to the elicitation, analysis, reviews and documentation. This enables higher quality requirements definition and faster turnaround with real-time modeling during the sessions.
On these shorter and smaller projects it’s about following a light process with efficient and effective techniques, using experienced analysts/architects with the right tools and producing just enough requirements detail that will be necessary and sufficient to meet the project and app dev objectives.
Requirements discovery is also often referred to as requirements elicitation, requirements gathering, requirements analysis, and requirements definition. We prefer to use the term because it’s a little less high-brow, more meaningful, and more appropriate to the activity it is intended to describe.
The Requirements Discovery Process
The typical process for requirements discovery involves the following six activities:
The term was initial coined by Ross Little in the late 80’s. Ross, now a principal with IAG Consulting, adapted the term from the legal profession. As a practicing Business Analyst, Little was working to evolve methods, practices and standards from the worlds of structured systems analysis, software engineering, total quality management and business process reengineering. Little credits his father, a lawyer, introducing him to the legal discovery process – and the genesis of the idea to apply some of those concepts to how organizations should gather information to define requirements for business solutions and change.
In the legal community “discovery” is the approach used to determine the facts about a case. Legal discovery mechanisms may be traced back to procedures of the ecclesiastical courts in England as early as the 16th century in which litigants delivered pleadings and obtained answers by means of examination under oath. As legal discovery in American law is the pretrial phase of a lawsuit, requirements discovery is the pre-design phase of a business transformation, or application development project.
to express a personal understanding of concepts, facts, cause & effect.
“Would you please break that down for me, so I can understand further?”
to ensure there is no misunderstanding.
“Will you share with me your understanding of what we just discussed?”
to attempt to organize facts related to a given subject.
“It would certainly help me organize my thinking if you would please classify those points.”
to reveal knowledge & understanding of similarities & difference in facts.
“Can we compare that statement to the one we reviewed earlier please?”
to understanding the interpretation of the term.
“To help me to understand, can you define that term for us?”
to select & define features which characterize a condition, situation or process.
“Can you describe a typical situation to which this might apply?”
to examine a subject by extending its application
“Let’s explore the implications & ramifications of this.”
to clarify by demonstrating a degree of understanding.
“Can you tell us how you arrived at that conclusion?.”
to provide examples which will clarify the subject.
“Can anyone give me an example or two of how this would work?”
to get more quantity
“ What else?”
to get more quality
“How do you mean?”
to change the subject back to the point of discussion
“Good point, can we put that on the issues list?”
to demonstrate that you have understood.
“In other words….”
Recap or Survey
“Can we please review the points that we have covered so far?”
Supply information to support a statement.
“How can we verify that this is indeed the case?”
These are the types of questions that our consultants use on our requirements definition engagements – and the types of questions we discuss and teach how to use in our training courses. To learn more, visit http://www.iag.biz.