Business Requirements Document i.e. BRD is prepared to provide clarity, retain focus, and remove ambiguity about the needs and objectives of a project in which the business is involved. This document is created during the project analysis phase by the business analysts. Poorly build BRD has a significant impact on the final results of systems or projects. It can lead to poor designs and tests, which in turn will cause delays in development and testing.
A good requirement should be Complete, Verifiable, Unambiguous, Modifiable, and Traceable. Therefore, the business analysts need to know the important requirement gathering techniques to successfully develop a quality business requirements document. In this article, we will go through the top 9 requirement gathering techniques that fit in the majority of the projects. You can go through my previous article where I have explained the steps to draft business requirements document.
Top 9 Business Requirements Gathering Techniques
Before we start, I would like to inform you that, the requirement gathering techniques are used based on the project type, stakeholders involved, and project complexity. Let’s get started with these techniques.
1. One to one interview
One to One Interview is one the commonly used requirement gathering technique. As the name suggests, you need to schedule an interview session with the key stakeholders and ask a set of questions. These questions could be open-ended as well as closed-ended. Open-Ended questions are like, “how they interact with the system?”, “what they like most about the current system?”,”what processes are critical and could impact other modules?”, etc. Answer to the Closed-Ended questions are not detailed one but it is specific and on the point, like “How many requests you receive in a day?”, “how many transactions are made?”, “how is the ratio of passed to failed transactions?’
It sounds simple but a business analyst should be careful and prepared before setting up a session with business stakeholders. Following are the key things to remember for the one-to-one interview technique;
- Identify key stakeholders before planning your approach.
- Be prepared with a list of questions that you are going to ask.
- Be on the listening mode and allow stakeholders to speak.
- Repeat and Confirm, if you are not clear with any points.
- provide the questions in the meeting agenda so that, the business users or stakeholders are prepared before coming to the meeting.
2. Group Interview
Group Interview technique is similar to the one-to-one interview techniques however, you will be interviewing more than one business, user or stakeholder, at a time. It could be difficult for the business analysts to set up the session due to conflict in their availability.
However, there are many advantages of group interview technique;
- Since you are interviewing more than one user from a team or department, you will cover all the requirements.
- Requirement Gathering process will be quick because the chances of disagreement between the users will be very less about the requirements.
- More ideas and thoughts will be generated.
Brainstorming is a very useful requirement gathering technique however, it is used in many other ways. The primary use of brainstorming techniques is to generate more ideas or solutions to a particular problem. Brainstorming is used during the initial phase of the project where are requirements are not clear or identified. Following are the key activities of the brainstorming requirement gathering technique;
- Invite a set of required stakeholders who know the system or process.
- Identify the topics to be discussed
- Note down each requirement and identify needs, pros, and cons.
It is important to keep note of every meeting and share it with participants to be aligned.
4. Focused Groups
The focused group is different then than the previously discussed one-to-one interview and group interview. In a focused group requirement gathering technique, a business analyst will invite a specific set of stakeholders for the requirement gathering process. These stakeholders could be the business heads from each department or the SMEs.
The high-level requirements will be gathered from these stakeholders before having a discussion with business users who works on the ground level like, functional managers, leads, etc. This meeting is also used to validate the already elicited requirements.
5. Document Analysis
In the document analysis technique, a business analyst will be collecting the existing documents related to the project for the analysis. Document analysis is a very useful technique in requirement gathering and it could be used to supplement any other techniques to effectively complete the requirement elicitation process. Following are the benefits of using document analysis technique;
- It helps to identify the key stakeholders for the requirement gathering process.
- You can prepare the right set of questions for the other requirement gathering techniques.
- It helps to understand the existing processes and system flow.
- The business analysts may find the missing information as well as the repeated processes that could be fixed in the TO-BE system.
- It also helps in clearing out the requirements from the interview session i.e. the requirements that were not clear during the other sessions.
Every project has a large set of documents therefore, it might be a time-consuming process for a business analyst but it is worth doing.
6. Requirement Workshop [JAD]
Requirement Workshop Techniques (aka JAD i.e. Joint Application Development) is a very efficient way of gathering business requirements. This technique can save a lot of your system design time if done properly. The agenda of the requirement workshop technique is to get the design right first time and reduce the iterations. Business users, stakeholders, functional managers, sponsors, and project managers are heavily involved in this session.
Such sessions will have facilitators who are responsible for keeping the group on the agenda and resolving conflicts. Since business users and key stakeholders are heavily involved in this process therefore, it eliminates the chances of conflicts in the later stages of the project. Following are the key benefit of using requirement workshop or JAD sessions;
- More structured requirement elicitation approach.
- Minimum or no requirement conflict.
- Saves time in finalizing the system design.
- Identifies the open issues and responsible parties to address them.
- End-user is involved heavily and aligns with the project team. This results in increased customer satisfaction.
7. Visual Technique- Prototyping, Wireframing
Visual Techniques like Prototype and Wireframe are the contemporary requirement gathering method and it’s an iterative process. Wireframe is a blueprint of a TO-BE developed system that represents the layout, functions and gives an idea about the system. Prototype can be considered as a model of the system which shows the exact system behavior and functionalities.
Having a visual representation of the system allows the stakeholders or business users to relate their requirements and expectation from the system. It helps both the teams i.e. business as well as project implementation team. However, this technique comes in play after finishing some sort of requirement gathering using any other techniques. This is an iterative process i.e. users will have the privilege to see and recommend changes until it meets the business expectation. The last prototype will be used as a model to build the actual system.
Following are some of the key benefits of using prototyping and wireframing techniques;
- Stakeholders and key business users are involved heavily and work side by side with the business analyst. It helps to capture detailed and complete requirements.
- This allows the users to quickly see, how the system will work once the requirements are implemented.
- It eliminates the conflict and assumption issues.
- It is easy to capture the missing requirements and correct the previously shared requirements.
8. Questionnaire or Surveys
Requirement elicitation could be simple to complete when you have access to meet business stakeholders or users whenever you want but it is very difficult when your stakeholders are located in multiple geographical locations. Business Analysts use the questionnaire or survey requirement gathering techniques to overcome this problem.
In the Questionnaire or Survey technique, the business analysts will prepare a set of project-related questions that are short and easy to understand. The questions should be asked are “how, where, when, who, what, and why.” Following are the key benefit of questionnaire and survey techniques;
- It is a preferred requirement gathering techniques if you need to gather requirements in a short period.
- This technique comes handy while gathering the requirements from a large group of stakeholders.
- It saves time in requirement elicitation process where stakeholders are spread out geographically.
9. User/System Observation
The objective of any project is to improve the existing processes, increase productivity, etc. This could be achieved only by knowing the current system and its behaviors. In the observation technique, business analysts will observe the user who is working on or using the system. This will help them in understanding how the end-users are using the system.
Sometimes, it is difficult for the stakeholders to provide the complete requirement or explain the system. However, if a business analyst knows the high-level information about the system, it becomes easy for both parties to finish the requirement elicitation process.
The business analysts will be doing Active as well as Passive observation. In Active observation, the BA will ask questions during the session to understand more and note the points. Whereas in Passive observation, the BA will not disturb the user and just observe “what”, “when” and “how” they are working. User or System Observation techniques is used to uncover the implicit requirements that are often overlooked
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There is not a fixed method or technique to gather business requirements and it depends on the scenario. For some projects, the Interview technique might work but for some projects, you might require to use joint sessions or group interviews.
Now, you know the 9 requirement gathering techniques that you can use to capture the business requirements and draft a quality business requirements document. Each requirement gathering techniques have their pros and cons therefore, you should choose the one which fits best for your project and the situation’s demand.
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