Improve Requirements Gathering

Back to basics: great products are built on great requirements.

Member Challenge

  • Poor requirements are the number one reason that projects fail. Requirements gathering and management has been an ongoing issue for IT professionals for decades.
  • If proper due diligence for requirements gathering is not conducted, then the applications that IT is deploying won’t meet business objectives and will fail to deliver adequate business value.
  • Inaccurate requirements definition can lead to significant amounts of project rework and hurt the organization’s financial performance. It will also create significant damage to the working relationship between IT and the business.
  • Often, business analysts haven’t developed the right competencies to successfully execute requirements gathering processes, even when they are in place.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • To avoid makeshift solutions, an organization needs to gather requirements with the desired future state in mind.
  • Creating a unified set of standard operating procedures is essential for effectively gathering requirements, but many organizations fail to do it.
  • Centralizing governance of requirements processes with a requirements gathering steering committee or requirements gathering center of excellence can bring greater uniformity and cohesion when gathering requirements across projects.
  • Business analysts must be targeted for competency development to ensure that the processes developed above are being successfully executed and the right questions are being asked of project sponsors and stakeholders.

Impact and Result

  • Enhanced requirements analysis will lead to tangible reductions in cycle time and reduced project overhead.
  • An improvement in requirements analysis will strengthen the relationship between business and IT, as more and more applications satisfy stakeholder needs.
  • More importantly, the applications delivered by IT will meet all of the must-have and at least some of the nice-to-have requirements, allowing end users to successfully execute their day-to-day responsibilities.

Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to find out why you should invest in optimizing your requirements gathering processes.

Name Actions
Improve Requirements Gathering – Executive Brief
Improve Requirements Gathering – Phases 1-4

1. Build the target state for the requirements gathering process

Capture a clear understanding of the target needs for the requirements process.

Name Actions
Build a Strong Approach to Business Requirements Gathering – Phase 1: Build the Target State for the Requirements Gathering Process
Requirements Gathering SOP and BA Playbook
Requirements Management Maturity Assessment Tool
Business Requirements Analyst
Requirements Gathering Communication Tracking Template
Project Level Selection Tool

2. Define the elicitation process

Develop best practices for conducting and structuring elicitation of business requirements.

Name Actions
Build a Strong Approach to Business Requirements Gathering – Phase 2: Define the Elicitation Process
Business Requirements Document Template
Scrum Documentation Template

3. Analyze and validate requirements

Standardize frameworks for analysis and validation of business requirements.

Name Actions
Build a Strong Approach to Business Requirements Gathering – Phase 3: Analyze and Validate Requirements
Requirements Gathering Testing Checklist
Requirements Gathering Documentation Tool

4. Create a requirements governance action plan

Formalize change control and governance processes for requirements gathering.

Name Actions
Build a Strong Approach to Business Requirements Gathering – Phase 4: Create a Requirements Governance Action Plan
Requirements Traceability Matrix
Improve Requirements Gathering

Onsite Workshop: Improve Requirements Gathering

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Do-It-Yourself Implementation

The slides in this Best Practice Blueprint will walk you step-by-step through every phase of your project with supporting tools and templates ready for you to use.

Project Accelerator Workshop

You can also use this Best Practice Blueprint to facilitate your own project accelerator workshop within your organization using the workshop slides and facilitation instructions provided in the Appendix.

Module 1: Define the Current State and Target State for Requirements Gathering

The Purpose

  • Create a clear understanding of the target needs for the requirements gathering process.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • A comprehensive review of the current state for requirements gathering across people, processes, and technology.
  • Identification of major challenges (and opportunity areas) that should be improved via the requirements gathering optimization project.

Activities Outputs
1.1 Understand current state and document existing requirement process steps.
  • Requirements Gathering Maturity Assessment
1.2 Identify stakeholder, process, outcome, and training challenges.
1.3 Conduct target state analysis.
  • Project Level Selection Tool
1.4 Establish requirements gathering metrics.
1.5 Identify project levels 1/2/3/4.
1.6 Match control points to project levels 1/2/3/4.
1.7 Conduct project scoping and identify stakeholders.
  • Requirements Gathering Documentation Tool

Module 2: Define the Elicitation Process

The Purpose

  • Create best practices for conducting and structuring elicitation of business requirements.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • A repeatable framework for initial elicitation of requirements.
  • Prescribed, project-specific elicitation techniques.

Activities Outputs
2.1 Understand elicitation techniques and which ones to use.
  • Project Elicitation Schedule
2.2 Document and confirm elicitation techniques.
2.3 Create a requirements gathering elicitation plan for your project.
2.4 Build the operating model for your project.
  • Project Operating Model
2.5 Define SIPOC-MC for your selected project.
  • Project SIPOC-MC Sub-Processes
2.6 Practice using interviews with business stakeholders to build use case models.
  • Project Use Cases
2.7 Practice using table-top testing with business stakeholders to build use case models.

Module 3: Analyze and Validate Requirements

The Purpose

  • Build a standardized framework for analysis and validation of business requirements.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Policies for requirements categorization, prioritization, and validation.
  • Improved project value as a result of better prioritization using the MOSCOW model.

Activities Outputs
3.1 Categorize gathered requirements for use.
  • Requirements Gathering Documentation Tool
3.2 Consolidate similar requirements and eliminate redundancies.
3.3 Practice prioritizing requirements.
3.4 Build the business process model for the project.
3.5 Rightsize the requirements documentation template.
  • Requirements Gathering Testing Checklist
3.6 Present the business requirements document to business stakeholders.
3.7 Identify testing opportunities.

Module 4: Establish Change Control Processes

The Purpose

  • Create formalized change control processes for requirements gathering.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Reduced interjections and rework – strengthened formal evaluation and control of change requests to project requirements.

Activities Outputs
4.1 Review existing CR process.
  • Requirements Traceability Matrix
4.2 Review change control process best practices and optimization opportunities.
4.3 Build guidelines for escalating changes.
  • Requirements Gathering Communication Tracking Template
4.4 Confirm your requirements gathering process for project levels 1/2/3/4.

Module 5: Establish Ongoing Governance for Requirements Gathering

The Purpose

  • Establish governance structures and ongoing oversight for business requirements gathering.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Consistent governance and oversight of the requirements gathering process, resulting in fewer “wild west” scenarios.
  • Better repeatability for the new requirements gathering process, resulting in less wasted time and effort at the outset of projects.

Activities Outputs
5.1 Define RACI for the requirements gathering process.
  • Requirements Gathering Action Plan
5.2 Define the requirements gathering steering committee purpose.
5.3 Define RACI for requirements gathering steering committee.
5.4 Define the agenda and cadence for the requirements gathering steering committee.
5.5 Identify and analyze stakeholders for communication plan.
5.6 Create communication management plan.
5.7 Build the action plan.

Testimonials

Worst: Learning the about the requirements gathering fundamentals that need to be in place to be ready up the bottom from the maturity level. Best: At the conclusion of the workshop, a roadmap to start the process to implement the requirements gathe...

Fernco Inc viaWorkshop

There were so many applicable and executable topics that were covered. Everyone on my team talked about how much they enjoyed the discussions and items presented. Kieran is very knowledgeable and provided great insights from experience, not just book the...

Medicaid - Louisiana Department of Health viaWorkshop

Kieran did a great job presenting the information. I'm already seeing improvements in the way our team works with end-users to gather system requirements.

Modesto Irrigation District viaWorkshop

Best - The material was relevant, and Kieran presented with examples that really drove the critical points home. We are very new to requirements gathering, the material was laid out to help us understand how each step logically led into the next, and dem...

Westoba Credit Union Limited viaWorkshop

I found the following most useful: • Maturity Assessment • BA Task Deep Dive • Metrics • Stop, Start, Continue, conversation • Elicitation Technique recommendations by Project Level • Stakeholder Matrix I appreciated the opportunity to provide my...

Great Lakes Water Authority viaWorkshop

Working with Vincent has been very encouraging. He is super helpful to our work and is willing to engage at a pace that is sustainable for us. Vincent regularly generates insights for us that make our work better, more focused and he help us manage our o...

The President and Fellows of Harvard College, a Massachusetts nonprofit corporation, acting by and through Harvard Business School viaWorkshop

We had explained our needs to the consultant tentatively assigned to facilitate our workshop, however when our facilitator changed, these needs were not properly conveyed. We had to end Day 1 early and reframe the workshop. Once we did that, everything w...

County of Marin IST viaWorkshop

Kieran was extremely knowledgeable and was able to answer all our ad hoc questions. We left the week with an action plan and tools to get started. The team is energized and ready to go! I appreciated that we were able to walk through real examples u...

General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. viaWorkshop

We really appreciated Kieran's flexibility. He was able to adjust the content and delivery to the attendees to make the learning experience more effective. We have some relatively newer Business Analysts in the enterprise so this workshop will help us...

Circular Materials viaWorkshop

Mr. Herzstein was very well prepared and knowledgeable, and he managed the sessions well. The best part was to see how the teams were engaged in the workshop activities, as the program was very interesting and engaging, while making the participants thin...

City of Virginia Beach viaWorkshop

This was our first InfoTech workshop. Kieran did an amazing job facilitating to a wide range of participants. There were also add-ins that were "bonuses" that I thought were very helpful such as discussing Product Management.

St. Lukes Health System Ltd. viaWorkshop

Truly an enlightening experience. It gave me a sense of comfort in finding that while we need to do some internal organization and setting some uniformity and standardization, we were not completely off the mark. I do not think there was a worst side....

South Carolina Department of Education viaWorkshop

It is hard to estimate the value. The team did get a good foundational base on gathering requirements. With regards to worst parts it would have been nice to do this in person but nothing we can do about this. Some of the stakeholder mapping was a little...

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency viaWorkshop

Kieran's insight based on real-life experiences! The real-time updates to ppt slides for processes, and the worksheets we worked from were very helpful. It was very helpful to practice writing user stories with Kieran giving us on the spot feedback/cou...

State Universities Retirement System Of Illinois viaWorkshop

Best: We were able to utilize the topics covered within the workshop and able to map that against our organization. Worst: It would have been more valuable if BAT has brought more resources from BA background to be involved in this workshop

BASS (GSD) LTD viaWorkshop

The worst part was that I had other priorities come up, and I couldn't attend the whole event.

LynnCo viaWorkshop

No worst parts Best - He was great, engaged everyone and got the most out of the folks who participated This feedback is from Paul Schuster

The Suddath Companies viaWorkshop

Presenter was knowledgeable, friendly, prepared with the right materials and was a good listner.

MUFG Investor Services viaWorkshop

The extensive details within the materials is impressive and very useful. The work shop leader was excellent, I just wish more members of our team put more effort into actively participating.

CRH: Oldcastle Building Envelope viaWorkshop

There really isn't a worse part but the best part is to hear other idea and opinions and identify gaps. if we had to read thru all the material provided it would have taken a lot longer and i'm not sure everyone would have absorbed it compared to listen...

Lendmark Financial Services, LLC viaWorkshop

Robert is attentive, listens to our requirement and provides great insight . Unfortunately, due to our current workload, the team needs to shift the focus to immediate needs. We are postponing discussion to a later date.

County of Marin IST viaWorkshop

No worst parts. Best part was discussing trials of the job and visual aids to assist my stakeholders with the big picture and next steps in each phase.

MicroPort Orthopedics Inc. viaWorkshop

Feedback collected from attendees: The instructor went the extra mile to understand our processes/lack thereof, organizational structure, and culture and provided, what feels like, a tailored and detailed sequence of steps for requirements gathering. E...

Holy Name Medical Center viaWorkshop

Although this was a non-standard question / request, being able to bounce ideas off Robert was valuable and he gave me some great guidance. Thanks!

Advisors Excel, LLC viaWorkshop

Best part: The team really engaged with the content, it was the right content for the team. Travis did a great job at facilitating the discussion and adjusting the content based on the responses from the team members. Worst part: Would be nice to have ...

Traeger Pellet Grills LLC viaWorkshop

Allison is very knowledgeable and was able to provide valuable practical information to our team. She was able to quickly assess our current state and experience and then focused her discussion on addressing our specific needs. Her advice will help us d...

State of Virginia, Office of Attorney General viaWorkshop
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