In this project management tutorial Angela shares tips for reviewing notes and following up with those interviewed in the requirements elicitation.
- Sometimes after elicitation interview, I can hardly read my own notes. It's a bit scary when you can barely make out your own handwriting, but I also realized it's sometimes... It's cuz I was focused on eye contact with the other person and then it didn't seem so bad. I would rather have maintained eye contact and keep the relationship strong than have perfect notes. Following up on a few things to clarify isn't always a bad thing either. After an elicitation interview, it is critical to review your notes for a few very important reasons.
First, you want to make sure that you understand the intent of what the person was talking about, not just the words of the notes that you took. I like to compare this to the active listening you do during the interview and reviewing your notes with that active listening mindset. Getting into the stakeholder's intentions is so important to ensuring we have not misunderstood them and take their requirements in the wrong direction. You want to make sure you get a chance to spend some good focus time reviewing your notes and thinking about what the interviewee was talking about.
So, as you listen, while reading and thinking about your notes, allow your mind to develop further questions. Analyzing the notes in order to develop further questions is critical to identifying requirements gaps and a shared understanding. So many missed requirements might be blamed on the idea that the stakeholder didn't tell me that, but I want to challenge that and ask have you analyzed what they've said and been proactive in finding the gaps? I typically will have 15 to 20 more questions to ask a stakeholder once I've reviewed my notes and thought about what needs to be further explored.
Once you've had some time to focus on the notes, determine a plan to follow up on the further questions and clarifications. Your plan might be to get more time with them or send a note with some questions, offering to set up time to discuss things further. This is your opportunity to be consultative and improve the requirements, taking the requirements from stated to actual. Finding missing impacts and pieces that get left out. Some analysts like to just type up the notes and send them off for review.
I don't recommend this without the analysis for intent and gaps. If you decide to send those notes, send with a purpose and share them with that purpose. I find that stakeholders are so busy, we can't assume they're actually going to read the notes we send without that purpose to describe why. It helps to have a specific directive for them in the notes to frame up what you're looking for when reviewing. Sometimes a directive for them includes some specific clarification questions.
Having some followup questions keeps the dialogue going on rather than simply validating what was just said. When sending your summary of notes with followup questions, another key area are to write up the decisions that were made. Also, give them a heads-up on next steps and when you'll be in touch again. Remember when sending followup emails, that the project is likely not their full-time job. So, emails need to be concise, bulleted, and with lots of white space so they're easy to read.
It's tempting to email a very detailed email asking a bunch of questions. Avoid this and set up a meeting instead. Most stakeholders would rather have time on their calendar to discuss things than to read a long detailed email and have to respond. They often are just simply too overwhelmed with other things to get that sort of focus time at their desks. Following up from an elicitation interview is important and a very strategic part of doing great interviews.
Leveraging this step can help ensure your relationships are positive and missed requirements are minimized.
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- Choosing to use interviews
- Selecting the right person to interview
- Planning interview questions
- Building rapport in an interview
- Choosing probing questions
- Listening and taking notes
- Analyzing and reviewing notes before following up