Learn about the crucial steps of elicitation and analysis requirements, and how blending the multiple techniques can deliver better results.
- Choosing the right requirements technique is sort of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, you know roughly what pieces to look for and start with, you use clues like color and shape as a guide, but sometimes trial and error is what gets you the right fit. It requires focus, patience, and a commitment that often causes us to lose interest. Many teams and BAs just use the same technique over and over and get subpar results. Blending multiple techniques is the key to better results.
It's so easy to skip elicitation and analysis and just focus on getting something documented, yet so critical we don't. If I could grant two wishes to everyone working on requirements, it would be, one, more time to elicit and analyze, and two, the ability to identify the right technique for every situation. It's a vicious cycle when one thing leads to another and repeats itself endlessly, and sometimes requirements can feel like this.
We elicit to analyze and then the analysis brings out more questions that we need to research or elicit, and so on. This pattern repeats itself until we have enough information to move forward. But how do you know when you have enough? How do you know when you're done? And you might also be thinking who has time to do all this, I have projects to deliver. It's important when working with requirements to understand which pieces are the more valuable. What parts of a solution are most critical to the value the solution provides to the user? When this piece is understood it's easier to determine where to focus your time and energy when eliciting and analyzing.
It's common for elicitation and analysis to happen in the same conversation. Elicitation and analysis are not phases of a project. Elicitation looks to discover information and analysis looks to find the areas where there is more to be discovered. It can be unconscious, which is happening when a conversation is taking place. I find that back at my desk with some quiet time I can distinguish and focus on if I have more to elicit or more to analyze.
It's quite common to plan meetings and collaborations that do both elicitation an analysis in the same event. For example, you might be brainstorming features with a group or interviewing some stakeholders, then create a draft process model to see how all the information is fitting together. You might schedule a collaborative meeting to discover what parts of the process and the solution are likely to change. From there you may use some detailed diagrams to clarify and find gaps.
This can be a conversation that flows back and forth between analysis and elicitation, and these are very powerful dialogs that can bring new insight, innovation, and swift progress. I've provided an exercise file that will help you blend elicitation and analysis techniques and align then to the appropriate situations. Managing the flow between elicit and analyze is a bit of a dance. It feels like chaos if you're not prepared.
But when done well it can be a well choreographed dance with some spontaneous flare. As the analyst responsible for requirements, you are the choreographer of this dance. If all this seems like a lot of work, it is. Great requirements are so much more than forging ahead with one person's vision and idea. Even if the solution is set from the beginning these analysis practices will yield powerful, unanticipated insights that will improve the quality of your solution.
By experimenting with a combination of techniques your puzzle will come together faster. You'll begin to see how different techniques work together in a variety of ways and situations. Good analysis is very rewarding and yields powerful results.
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- What's elicitation and analysis?
- The relationship of elicitation to analysis
- Elicitation techniques
- Using interviews, brainstorming, and experiments to elicit requirements
- Analysis techniques
- Working with process models, context diagrams, and decision tables
- Adding to a process, product, or system