Tag Archives: requirements gathering

Postpone technical details as long as possible, despite what your PM tells you

I’ve always been a firm believer that whether you’re Agile or Traditional, it’s important to postpone describing technical details as long as possible. It’s very tempting to start to solve problems ASAP, because there is something very satisfying about solving puzzles. Also, many project managers and others who are being held to deadlines will push to start design and coding as soon as possible. However, I believe in, as someone I met recently described it to me, a “back to basics” approach.

One challenge I often face is when a client pushes for me to start technical discussions with the users. Their argument Continue reading

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Filed under business analyst, complexity, requirements, story writing

Series: Requirements – You’re doing it wrong Part 1

Most of you have probably seen this meme on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. Generally it is an image, probably taken out of context, of someone demonstrating a lack of understanding, with a comment to the gist of “You’re doing it wrong.” While these images are a little extreme, I’m sometimes reminded of them when consulting on requirements analysis. I’m not saying that organizations are often completely missing the boat, but I’m pretty sure that if they stepped back a bit they’d quickly see their problems for themselves.

Before I start with my first topic in this series, I’d like to quote the IIBA‘s Continue reading

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Filed under collaboration, customer participation, requirements, standards, Uncategorized, You're doing it wrong

Agile and the Analyst

I recently took the Scrum Master course and certification. If you work in software development in any capacity and you have the chance, I recommend you take this course, even if you aren’t a proponent of Scrum itself. Approach it with an open mind and you’ll come away thinking a little differently about managing people. I’m not saying you’ll be an Agile convert, but it will make you re-examine lot of the fundamental assumptions of traditional project management.

As a business requirement specialist, I was particularly interested to see how an experienced analyst might fit into Scrum. I had read a couple of books on Scrum, Kanban, and other Agile topics but I found them somewhat vague when it got to Continue reading

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Filed under agile, customer participation, requirements, scrum

Why Business Analysts need to be generalists

Historically the Business Analyst position has been a grab-bag of roles. In some organizations the position is effectively a power user who has expertise in one or two systems and is responsible for analyzing and delivering service requests for those systems. In other organizations the analyst is nothing more than a scribe, responsible for recording meetings and completing documentation. Still more are pure business experts who act as subject matter experts as a proxy for the business.

The founding of the the IIBA 9 years ago started to resolve this problem, just as the creation of the PMI helped define and standardize the project manager position and activities. However, Continue reading

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Filed under business analyst, requirements, self-organizing

Getting the Horse to Drink

Lack of stakeholder and user involvement is often cited as a primary reason for project failure and the greatest source of project risk. Unfortunately, whether you adhere to an Agile, traditional, hybrid or mixed methology, getting and keeping customers involved in the development process is always a challenge. I explained previously that the most common reasons customers state for not being involved are that they are too busy, they don’t trust the technical team’s ability to deliver, and that they don’t see the meetings as productive.

The first reason is generally beyond a project manager’s control, and the second is a lack of trust between stakeholders and IT that is often Continue reading

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Filed under collaboration, customer participation, planning, requirements, Uncategorized

Leading the horse to water

In my last post I described 3 reasons customers cite for not participating in development. One of the reasons, and one that a project manager or business analyst can impact directly, is the customers feel that the meetings are not a productive use of their time. They feel the meetings don’t accomplish anything, take too long, or that they were unable to contribute and their presence wasn’t necessary.

I’ve witnessed many meetings with customers that I would describe as dysfunctional, and I’ve worked in many organizations where meetings with no agenda, no direction and unclear outcomes are the accepted norm. The focus Continue reading

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Filed under collaboration, customer participation, planning

Honey, Vinegar, and Customer Participation

Recently I participated in a series of instructor-led online courses on Scrum/Agile. During the section on Sprint Planning, the instructor mentioned that shorter iterations provide more agility, and organizations should aim to achieve weekly sprints. This prompted one student to ask:

“The business people I need won’t attend my monthly meetings. How can I get them to attend a weekly planning meeting?”

This is one of the most common complaints or questions I receive, so it was no surprise that a student asked it here. However, what did surprise me was the instructor’s response:

“Tell them that if they don’t participate they can expect the software to be buggy and not meet their needs.”

I have witnessed this sort of approach before, but I was shocked at this answer from someone who claimed to be an expert in Agile. It contradicts the fundamental principals described in the Agile Manifesto: Continue reading

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Filed under agile, collaboration, customer participation, requirements, scrum