Business Requirement Elicitation Techniques:
- Brainstorming: Done properly (without censoring ideas as you go) and with the right audience (representatives of each group, SMEs, stakeholders), brainstorming has the most potential to prevent gotchas down the road, capturing needs you didn’t know about, processes no one mentioned, and things you hadn’t thought of. To an extent, this takes the onus off you for knowing your unknowns by helping everyone think outside the box and helping stakeholders take ownership of the direction of a project. The myriad of ideas and information also give you a rich repository of knowledge to choose from, so you can discern where to go next with your project.
- Document Analysis: Use this when
- You’re checking out what’s already there. In the course of nearly every project, every analyst will look at the user guides, previous requirements, and existing systems of their own organization.
- You’re bringing something competitive to market. Don’t just review your own documents. Without breaking any non-disclosure clauses or copyright laws, review everything you can get your hands on from competitors and other industries that have similar systems.
- Focus Group: Use this when
- You haven’t gotten a lot of feedback from customers or users through Customer Service complaints, responses to the sales force, or any other avenue, and you need to explore their thoughts to chart your direction.
While focus groups allow you to dig into the thought processes of a select group of users, remember there’s always the danger that a small group may not be reflective of your entire audience of users. Also, participants must feel comfortable speaking honestly about their needs without fear of offending the moderator or stakeholders, or the benefit of the focus group is moot.
- Interface Analysis: Interface Analysis is a business analysis elicitation technique that helps to identify interfaces between solutions/applications to determine the requirements for ensuring that the components interact with one another effectively.
- Interview: Interviews help you dig through your SMEs and users’ knowledge base, so you can understand what they understand and think—which is what you need to write strong requirements.
- Observation: Observation is primarily useful for capturing what’s already in existence and enables several other types of requirements tools, not the least of which is existing use-case scenarios.
- Prototyping: No matter how hard they try, some people just can’t analyze a system or product until they try it. Make it as easy as possible for them to do that.
- Requirements Workshop: In a requirements workshop, you ask everyone to sit down and hammer out the requirements with you. “A requirements workshop is a highly productive focused event attended by carefully selected key stakeholders and subject matter experts for a short, intensive period (typically one or a few days).”
- Reverse Engineering: The process of duplicating an existing component, subassembly, or product, without the aid of drawings, documentation, or computer model is known asreverse engineering. Reverse engineering can be viewed as the process of analyzing a system to: Identify the system’s components and their interrelationships.
- Survey/ Questionnaire: Use this when
- You have a large audience to gather information from
- Your interviewees are scattered around time zones, making a virtual meeting or focus group unfeasible.
Note the constraint of this method is it can be difficult to ask follow-up questions or let a user interact with a prototype. “Questionnaires lack the opportunity to delve further on a topic, or expand on new ideas. In the same way they provide no mechanism for the participants to request clarification or correct misunderstandings.”