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.
What do you need the most when eliciting requirements? Face-time with Subject Matter Experts and their Managers. As a Business Analyst employed in a typical organization, what is the thing you get the least of? Face-time with Subject Matter Experts and their Managers. Who will Subject Matter Experts and Managers make time to see? Outside Consultants.
Such is the way of the world, at least the one I have worked in for 30 years. Full disclosure: for about 20 of those years I was an employee Business Analyst. I am now an outside Consultant working in Requirements Elicitation, Analysis and Documentation. I have spent more direct time with SMEs and Senior Managers in the last five years than I probably got in those 20 years. Why? Because I have usually been brought in to work an important project, and I am a direct cost to the organization.
If you the reader are an employee working on projects, and not limited to Business Analysts, you know this true. Is it fair to you? Not really, but having been on both sides of this situation, I don’t see it changing anytime soon.
So rather than complain about it, how can you make this work for you? (And yes, what I will suggest should mean more work for me, but hear me out…)
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.