Join Terri Wagner for an in-depth discussion in this video Discussing the elicitation process, part of Project Management Foundations: Requirements.
- The Elicitation Process is done at both the business and user level. Elicitation is a human based activity which means it's open to errors and misunderstanding as well as forgetfulness. If the elicitor doesn't have a well thought out and documented plan in advance it can be easy to miss important details. Four things to consider here are: Determine requirements sources, we'll explore some to consider in a bit. Decide how to gather information, and from whom.
Involve research, reading, talking, and observing. Encompass organizing and evaluating your research results. Let's say you decide you're going to gather information through use of questions. What types of questions will you ask? There are many types to consider. Research Questions often start out as general questions inviting users to provide information about their concerns, interests, and needs. They assist the analyst or project member in scoping out what is needed.
They don't need to be limited or specific and the answers are not controlled in any way. Examples of Research Questions might be: What constitutes success for this project? What would happen if this process no longer worked? What concerns do you have about these proposed changes? Detailed Questions target more specific information within the predefined project scope or other limits. This is typically the step after research questions focusing the business analyst or project team member gathering the requirements on more specific information.
One technique is to frame these types of questions around the five Ws of project management: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Examples of Detailed Questions include: Why is there an inventory problem? Who provides you with this information? Where do you send this information? Why? Directive Questions are used primarily in group settings or where there are contradictions in what the business analyst or project team member has been told.
The goal is to reach consensus on specific features and functionality while encouraging group decision making. Examples of Directive Questions on a software project might include: Do you like this data-entry-screen format and interaction? What three errors are most significant in this scenario? What's the relative priority of this key feature? Meta Questions are used to clarify and summarize what you've been told. Essentially they're questions about questions.
They allow you to promote open communication in a nonthreatening way and prove that you've been listening. Examples of Meta Questions include: Do you mind if I ask you about...? Are there any areas that I've missed? Would you clarify what you just told me? And of course there's always the Open-Ended Questions like: What concerns do you have about the proposed new features? From your perspective, what's the main reason for this project? What constraints do you see relative in this project? What's your trade-off between time and value? Versus close ended questions looking for a Yes/No, range scale response, or multiple choice.
An example would be: What's your preferred method for purchasing books? Over the internet, in a bookstore, from an individual, all of the above, none of the above. Whichever style you choose to use in your questions try to use natural and familiar language business level technology rather than technical terms. For our Wind Farm Project you may want to ask community stakeholders what's an acceptable level of visibility of the wind turbines and blades from your property location.
Ask the neighbors in a group meeting and perhaps also do a survey to see what responses you receive. "What's a desirable decrease in your electricity bill "for using wind power versus other methods "of electricity production?" Be prepared before asking these questions by doing your research on the regulatory aspects of these questions, as well as the cost comparison data. Some parting advice on Elicitation. Avoid expressing emotion and opinion.
Make each question simple and clear. Know why you're asking each question, you might be challenged. Write your questions down before you ask them. And ask the three Most-Important Questions before you're done: Is there anyone else I should speak with? Do you have any questions for me? And is there anything I've missed or need to know?
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Classifying requirements
- Developing requirements
- Investigating requirements
- Documenting requirements
- Validating requirements
- Managing changing requirements