Requirements Elicitation – Where to start as a Business Analyst?

What is requirements elicitation?

Requirements elicitation in the context of Business Analysis is the activity of not only gathering but also eliciting requirements from relevant stakeholders to solve for a specific business need or problem. It is covered in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) Guide as one of the key knowledge areas within the Business Analysis Profession.

How do you perform requirements elicitation?

Requirements elicitation can be performed a variety of different ways depending on factors such as the number of stakeholders involved, the maturity of what is already known as requirements, time frames and availability of people to engage in requirements elicitation activities. Requirements elicitation consists of a few steps which are outlined below:

Step 1: Plan for your requirements elicitation activity

Decide first of all, what is the purpose of your requirements elicitation plans by having an understanding of the business objectives and project deliverables required prior to starting the activity itself. This is important because it will also help you decide which requirements elicitation approach to take in terms of number of stakeholders to engage, which stakeholder groups must be represented and the format for engaging those stakeholders. Remember to communicate your plans for requirements elicitation with your project team as well the stakeholders in terms of your requirements elicitation specific purpose, time and effort required from participants before setting up meetings or workshops.
Some of the mainstream requirement elicitation techniques that you should consider as part of this planning activity include: Requirement Interviewing, Requirements Workshops, Requirements gathering via Observation and Surveys.

Step 2: Conduct your elicitation activity

Now that you have decided to follow a particular requirements elicitation technique or a combination of a few different techniques you need to remember to be actively eliciting requirements with specific questioning skills and ensuring you get to the real business needs and reasons for each requirement that is raised. You can have a look at Fishbone Diagram to help you determine the really cause and effect of requirements.

Step 3: Document and communicate your requirements

The final stage of the requirements elicitation activities involve documenting, clarifying and validating of the requirements that you have elicited from different stakeholders. You must always ensure you include a review, a forum for validation of each requirement and some form of approval cycle into your requirements elicitation document artifacts.