Elicitation Techniques in Business Analysis

by Tapera Mangezi
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Elicitation techniques used by business analysts; what is it and how is it used in business analysis? One of the most important skills a business analyst should have is the ability to perform requirements elicitation/analysis.  Learn about the requirements gathering and elicitation techniques in business analysis and how the process can lead to the preparation of a detailed requirements document. Some of the commonly used elicitation techniques are outlined below:

Brainstorming

Business analysts can use brainstorming, a group creativity technique, to generate ideas, identify the root causes of problems, as well as solve complex business problems. During requirements gathering, brainstorming can be used to get a variety of ideas from a group of people and to identify possible solutions to problems and may also be combined with voting to prioritize ideas. Brainstorming can also be used to make requirements clear and is one of the best ways to generate lots of ideas on a particular topic in a short period of time.

Focus groups

A focus group involves a gathering of stakeholders who represent the customer and can be used to collect information in a relatively short period of time. In a focus group, multiple viewpoints can be shared and discussed with the assistance of a facilitator. The feedback gathered from a focus group can be used to identify or validate requirements. A focus group can also be used as a way of identifying the stakeholder’s attitudes and beliefs about the solution.

Prototypes

Prototyping is a requirements gathering and elicitation technique that can be used to gather preliminary requirements for building an initial version of the solution referred to as a prototype or demo. The prototype can be shown to the stakeholders, who will review and give recommendations for improvement so as to meet business requirements. Prototypes are very effective, particularly where the solution, involves the implementation of new technology and can help stakeholders visualize what the final product will look like.

Meetings

One of the core competencies of a business analyst is the ability to conduct meetings with stakeholders to gather and validate their requirements. This normally involves meeting scheduling, setting the meeting agenda items, facilitating discussions, and documenting meeting minutes. Meetings are also commonly used as a platform for obtaining feedback from team members and taking corrective action where necessary. In an agile environment, daily standup meetings of 5 to 15 minutes duration are used to provide quick status updates.

Interviews

Interviews are one of the most effective ways of gathering information from the stakeholders and can be used to engage with stakeholders, identify, elicit, and document requirements. Business analysts can use elicitation techniques, like either structured or unstructured interviews, depending on the situation. A structured interview uses preset questions, which are asked to stakeholders, and an unstructured interview uses spontaneous questions, which are not determined in advance. Interviews offer a business analyst an opportunity to establish rapport with the interviewee and get instant feedback. User stories are commonly used in Scrum projects for iterative requirements gathering and elicitation.

Workshops

Other great elicitation techniques are workshops. Facilitated workshops involve a group of individuals at once and can be a very effective way of gathering requirements and establishing collaboration between business analysts and stakeholders. During a requirements workshop, a facilitator will play a leading role by presenting the topics to be discussed as well as coming up with documentation. In information technology projects, Joint Application Development (JAD) sessions which are highly structured, facilitated workshops, can help bring together business analysts and key customer stakeholders to quickly come to an agreement on the requirements.

Document analysis

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Document analysis involves reviewing the existing documentation such as business processes procedures, business rules, project charter, project plan, business case, stakeholder register, risk register, lessons learned, business process models, and data models. Document analysis can also be effective when stakeholders are not available to supply information during the requirements gathering process. Document review can also help during the creation of the as-is process flow diagrams in the business requirements document.

Surveys

A survey is a data-gathering method that is used to collect, analyze, and interpret the views of a group of people from a target population. A questionnaire can be used in a survey as a cost-effective way of gathering and eliciting requirements from a large number of people in a short period of time. Questionnaires can also be effective in cases where the respondents are based in various geographical locations. As part of the survey, a sample is created from a group of people to represent a population, and the results are analyzed.

Observations

Observation of a process presents an opportunity to interact with stakeholders within an organization. Observations can be used effectively with other techniques such as interviewing and surveys to help gather and validate requirements. In passive observation, business analysts do not interact with the stakeholders during the observation process, while in active observation, the business analyst can interact with the stakeholders and ask questions or even participate in the activities.  Now that you’re up to date on elicitation techniques, you’re ready to brave requirements gathering like a pro.

FAQ’s

Q: What is the purpose of elicitation techniques in business analysis?

A: Elicitation techniques are used in business analysis to gather and document requirements from stakeholders for a particular project or solution. The purpose of these techniques is to identify the needs and expectations of stakeholders and to ensure that the requirements are clearly defined and documented for the project team.

Q: What are some commonly used elicitation techniques in business analysis?

A: Some commonly used elicitation techniques include brainstorming, focus groups, prototypes, meetings, interviews, workshops, document analysis, surveys, and observations.

Q: What is brainstorming, and how is it used in requirements gathering?

A: Brainstorming is a group creativity technique used to generate ideas, identify root causes of problems, and solve complex business problems. In requirements gathering, brainstorming can be used to get a variety of ideas from a group of people and identify possible solutions to problems.

Q: How are focus groups used in elicitation techniques?

A: Focus groups involve gathering stakeholders who represent the customer and can be used to collect information in a relatively short period of time. Multiple viewpoints can be shared and discussed with the assistance of a facilitator. Feedback gathered from a focus group can be used to identify or validate requirements and stakeholder attitudes and beliefs about the solution.

Q: What is the purpose of prototypes in elicitation techniques?

A: Prototyping is a requirements gathering and elicitation technique used to gather preliminary requirements for building an initial version of the solution. The prototype can be shown to stakeholders, who will review and give recommendations for improvement to meet business requirements.

Q: How are interviews used in elicitation techniques?

A: Interviews are one of the most effective ways of gathering information from stakeholders and can be used to engage with stakeholders, identify, elicit, and document requirements. Business analysts can use structured or unstructured interviews, depending on the situation.

Q: What is the purpose of workshops in elicitation techniques?

A: Workshops involve a group of individuals and can be a very effective way of gathering requirements and establishing collaboration between business analysts and stakeholders. During a requirements workshop, a facilitator will play a leading role by presenting the topics to be discussed as well as coming up with documentation.

Q: What is document analysis, and how is it used in elicitation techniques?

A: Document analysis involves reviewing existing documentation, such as business processes procedures, project charter, and data models, to identify requirements. Document analysis can also help create the as-is process flow diagrams in the business requirements document.

Q: What is the purpose of surveys in elicitation techniques?

A: Surveys are a data-gathering method used to collect, analyze, and interpret the views of a group of people from a target population. Surveys can be used to gather and elicit requirements from a large number of people in a short period of time.

Q: What is the purpose of observations in elicitation techniques?

A: Observations present an opportunity to interact with stakeholders within an organization. Observations can be used effectively with other techniques such as interviewing and surveys to help gather and validate requirements.

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