A challenge faced by every Business Analyst is delivering high-quality requirements in an efficient and timely manner.
But as project budgets and timeframes continue to shrink, analysts must also look for ways to shave time off their requirements gathering and elicitation activities because spending valuable time chasing down unnecessary information erodes an analyst’s ability to deliver their work on time and under budget.
One way analysts can utilize their time more effectively is to know when to put on the brakes and stop gathering requirements.
So When Does Done Really Mean “Done”?
A question that I’m frequently asked by customers and colleagues alike is, “How do we know when we’re done gathering requirements?”
To answer that question, there is a two-step process that we can use to first put on the brakes to stop the gathering process and then to evaluate our requirements against a set of completion criteria.
Putting on the Brakes
As you elicit requirements, remain cognizant of the number of new requirements or the amount of significant changes to existing requirements that you’re receiving from your SMEs and other knowledge resources. As the volume of both of these kinds of information decreases, start looking for any repetition (i.e. the same requirement being repeated differently) or information that doesn’t conform to business goals or that’s out of the project’s scope. When you begin seeing this type of “noise” during your elaboration, then it’s probably time to put on the brakes and stop gathering requirements.
Think of it this way: When you start gathering requirements, you’re drinking from the fully opened valve of a fire hose. But as your work progresses the valve is tightened down until finally all you’re left with is an unhelpful trickle.
But once you’ve stopped gathering requirements, how do you know if you’re really “done”?
Well, you won’t know that until the gathered requirements are given a reality check!
Validating Gathered Requirements
The following list of questions is a litmus test you can use to evaluate each requirement to ensure its accuracy and efficacy.
For every requirement, ask the question “Is it…”
- Complete – Does the requirement have missing information?
- Consistent – Is the requirement consistent with other sources of information (internal or external)?
- Correct – Does the requirement meet the business goal as well as fall within the given project scope?
- Necessary – Is the requirement needed or is it extraneous information (i.e. “noise”)?
- Traceable – Has the requirement been uniquely identified so it can be traced?
- Unambiguous – Does the requirement apply to only a single interpretation?
- Verifiable – Does the requirement meet with the approval of both business and downstream consumers?
Once all of the requirements have successfully passed the completion criteria above, then done really does mean “done.”
SOUND OFF: What’s the most important thing you do to ensure you deliver high quality requirements?