Six Techniques to Elicit Requirements Effectively

Eliciting Requirements

I recently watched a webinar from the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) called Elicitation without Alienation.  The webinar was presented by Francine Wolfe, Sr. Business Analysis Consultant.    The topic was chosen as BA’s (business analysts) are often perceived negatively – they are nosy or annoying!  They are always questioning everything!! But we are supposed to be inquisitive so the webinar was about how to avoid this perception.

Francine talked about the following areas:

  • Know your audience – As BA’s we need to watch, listen and learn and make sure we are aware of the verbal and non- verbal cues.   For me, sometimes I find am so busy trying to take notes that I don’t always pay enough attention to what’s going on around me – In future I’ll consider different approaches such as recording sessions so I can ensure I’m always engaged.elicit thumb 1 Six Techniques to Elicit Requirements Effectively
  • Regard ALL Business Stakeholders as Subject Matter Experts as they all have something you need whether it is a better understanding of the high-level scope of the project or details on a daily process.
  • Regard ALL Technical Stakeholders as Technical Experts as you need them to help with technical explanations and potential alternatives to meet the intent of the requirements.
  • Know your own elicitation strengths and weaknesses   – this topic resonated with me as one of the points raised was to be especially careful if you have subject matter expertise.  I found myself in a situation like this a while ago and had to keep reminding myself that although I used to know the process I didn’t know it now as I was no longer doing that job.
  • Be prepared – have an agenda, get to know what you can about the subject and stick to time limits.  One of the other points raised during this area was Visual, such as diagrams, are helpful.  I have used this technique in the past – my diagram may have been completely wrong but it gave everyone a starting point in the discussion.
  • Earn your credibility – this is not a given based on role title; credibility is something you need to earn over and over again.  As a BA for a vendor I am usually dealing with a new project so this is something I face with every new customer.

My biggest take away from the webinar was one of Francine’s Final Thoughts – Make it Fun for you and the people involved.  This doesn’t mean clowns and balloons but make it comfortable, make it enjoyable – these people are taking time out of what is probably a busy day to discuss something that is probably going to change their jobs. So, do your best to make it a painless as possible.

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