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

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BUSINESS ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES
REQUIREMENTS ELICITATION
Technique 50: Scenarios
Description of the technique
Scenarios can be used to bring to life either business situations or IT situations
(usually described via use case specifications see Technique 62), but are most
powerful when used to describe both of these and the interactions between them.
In addition to helping validate requirements for completeness of coverage, they
also provide a solid base for prototyping, testing and subsequent training for
business users. A scenario describes a specific situation that the user will
recognise, which works through a single instance to a logical (although not
always successful) conclusion. Each individual scenario is specific in that it does
not deal in generalities; instead, it homes in on a particular set of circumstances
and ‘walks through’ the task that needs to be performed, in a thread that has a
start point and a stop point.
Each individual scenario can be used to validate the business requirement,
and the development of the scenarios is also likely to identify additions or
enhancements to the requirements during elicitation, analysis and subsequent
definition. Thus the requirements and their supporting scenarios are developed
together in an iterative way.
To develop a scenario, the business analyst starts by writing down descriptions of
examples of a variety of situations that a range of users might encounter. These
help to ground the analysis in reality and allow all concerned to understand the
detailed steps that typical users go through, and the information they will need to
perform these. This selected set of scenarios should be reviewed with users and
used to refine the initial requirements definition. Later they can be used as the
basis for the development of prototypes and acceptance test plans.
It is important when developing scenarios to ensure that there is sufficient
coverage of both normal and critical conditions, as well as considering some of the
more unusual and less important situations. There is often a temptation to focus
scenarios only on the interesting cases, and ignore more mundane and common
cases.
We recommend that the set of scenarios considered should cover:
common tasks and the responses to important business events;
situations involving a selection of users;
critical events which happen occasionally;
situations that are difficult to deal with;
situations where users are likely to make mistakes;
different
working
environments;
both
current
and
future
situations;
how
any
new
technology
might
be
used;
160

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