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Business Analysis Techniques by Paul Turner, Debra Paul, James Cadle

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6 DEFINE REQUIREMENTS
INTRODUCTION
Requirements definition is a significant part of the business analyst’s role, no
matter which lifecycle approach is used and no matter whether the focus is on
business or IT requirements. Standard investigation techniques such as
interviewing, workshops and observation (Techniques 13–15 see Chapter 2) can
help in the elicitation of such requirements, but additional techniques can be
applied to improve the quality of this elicitation, the definition of the requirements
themselves, and more importantly the quality of any resulting solutions. This
stage of the business analysis process model focuses on a selection of such
techniques, which serve to bring the requirements to life. It also covers some of the
additional aspects to consider when using traditional investigation techniques
with the specific objective of documenting, analysing, validating and managing
requirements. By the very nature of requirements they focus on some future state,
and as a result analysts need to support any approach to requirements elicitation
with a balance of creativity and innovation if they are to add real value. The
techniques described here can be used in isolation, but are likely to be most
effective when they act in combination with each other.
When interviewing stakeholders it is easy to get entrenched in the detail of the
current situation and existing issues, and hence not focus on what will really
be needed in the future. For example, when trying to identify an initial set of
requirements by the use of interviewing, the analyst will often be faced with two
extreme responses, both of which need to be carefully handled:
‘I dont know what I want, or even what is possible, so it’s your job to nd
out.
or:
‘I know (or think I know) what I want, and here it is, so all you have to do is
make sure I get it.’
The skill in requirements definition is to look beyond what is being said by
individual stakeholders, and try to identify and define requirements that will
ultimately result in a solution delivering features and behaviours that meet
the true business objectives, in a way that satisfies individual needs while
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BUSINESS ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES
exploiting the ‘art of the possible’. A key characteristic of the business
analyst’s role when defining requirements is to ‘question the norm’.
If you take the time to consider any systems or devices that you enjoy interacting
with, such as a smart phone or a particular internet site, you will soon realise
that the best solutions are driven out from requirements that have really got
inside the potential users mind, and are delivered accordingly. When was the
last time you enjoyed interacting with a call centre? This is a classic example
that shows how important it is to integrate business and system requirements,
coordinating them in a way that is focused on the end user.
Traditional analysis and investigation techniques have an important role to
play in eliciting and defining requirements, but only if the analyst is clear
that they are a means to an end and not an end in themselves. This is why
they are most effective, and lead to better quality solutions, when used in
conjunction with additional techniques such as those discussed in the rest of
this section.
The set of techniques described here are presented in a sequence of groups,
showing how each contributes to the overall Define requirements stage of
business analysis. The groupings are:
requirements elicitation;
requirements analysis;
requirements development;
requirements modelling.
Requirements elicitation (Techniques 50–53)
This section introduces:
scenarios;
storyboarding;
prototyping;
hothousing.
This is a set of techniques that help to enhance traditional investigation methods
in order to maximise the quality of the requirements gathered.
The techniques described here can be utilised throughout the lifecycle, but they
have their main focus wherever requirements are being identified and discussed
with business representatives and subject matter experts. In the case of
prototyping, specically, the application of the technique will change fundamentally
when an Agile or evolutionary development approach is employed, and this is
also discussed within this section. Techniques such as scenarios, storyboarding
and prototyping will usually be most eective in conjunction with other approaches
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