Just the other week the IIBA had a great demonstration of better requirements elicitation. For those of you not familiar with the IIBA, their mission is to help Business Analysts grow professionally by providing training, networking, and career development opportunities. We are fortunate enough to have a local Austin chapter that hosts meetings in town.
Jeff Brantley, President of Brantley Marketing, Inc, was a great speaker. Throughout the meeting he used great techniques to keep the audience attentive, involved, and learning. The essence of the presentation was using games to better facilitate and elicit product requirements. The particular game we were able to participate in was called Product Box. The idea was that you are trying to figure out what your product needs to do by providing a blank box to your organization. They would then need to work together to figure out what the features they need in this product are and how they are going to decorate this product to market it.
If you can imagine a cereal box then you can see some of the similarities. You need to provide a user story on the back about why you should use this product over someone else’s or what benefits it provides you. I can think of all the material on how it lowers cholesterol or increases fiber. You also have your detailed product specs on for nutrition, data needs such as the bar code etc.
The big take home from this exercise revolves around getting your users, subject matter experts, and stakeholders out of their normal mind set. You want to have them look at the needs of the project in lights other than what their roles may dictate. Users want the product to solve more interface or process issues and have less problems. SME’s want the product to comply with all the process rules. Stakeholders want the product to fall in budget and on time. We need them to take a step back and think about why the product is needed and what problems it is trying to solve.
We shouldn’t consolidate systems just to consolidate systems. There should be a set goal such as reducing the operating cost of IT by 10% without impacting the sales workflow. When people are designing the box, you should have observers going around and gathering the requirements. The key word being looked for is that the product should do something “so that I can” have something else. So my order management system should allow me to add products to an order so that I can sell my product.
It was a very entertaining and enlightening meeting. We would love to meet other Business Analysts in the area so sign up and show up to the Austin IIBA’s future meetings!