Select Page

Discovering Requirements for IT – Simply Put!

Improve Your Business Analysis and Requirements Elicitation Skills to get Better Initial Requirements for IT Projects

Buy from

Preview CourseDuration: 1.5 hours
Format: Online course
Author: Tom and Angela Hathaway

Also available as a book (Kindle or Paperback) and covered in this live classroom course.

Sneak preview

What is this course about?

7 Ways to Improve Your Requirements Elicitation Skills

Getting the right business and stakeholder requirements for software development is arguably the most challenging step in software development. Nearly every study over the past 40 years has pinpointed missing and misunderstood IT requirements as the primary cause of IT project failures and overruns. Agile Software Development approaches have significantly increased the potential for project success but even Agile projects suffers from 30% – 40% failure rates. The importance of early discovery and capture of initial visions, business and stakeholder requirements, features, or User Stories cannot be overstated. The requirements you identify, discover, elicit, or gather are the foundation for the remainder of the work on the product or project.

The problem is that the project stakeholders are not entirely sure what they need the IT application to deliver. They have ideas and often discuss problems and opportunities, but are not trained to express those in the form of actionable requirements. This course presents 7 requirements elicitation techniques for getting IT requirements from product stakeholders. The authors have used these techniques on hundreds of IT projects around the globe and know the value each provides. Every presented technique will greatly improve your ability to elicit effective features and/or requirements (which is the ultimate challenge).

In this course, you will learn how to help the business community discover business needs that form the basis for  Product Requirements Documents, Product Backlogs, or Feature Lists. It presents specific business analysis techniques for identifying stakeholders, analyzing relevant business problems, helping stakeholders discover what they don’t know they need (but still want the solution to deliver), and a set of key questions you need to answer to initiate and manage the process. Applying these techniques will significantly improve your initial Product Backlog, Feature List, or Product Requirements Document and increase the probability of a successful project.

We design our courses with a mix of “talking-head” instructor videos augmented with “Intellimated” visual aids proven to improve comprehension and increase retention. 

Who should take this course?

  • Product Owners
  • Business Analysts
  • Requirements Engineers
  • Business- and Customer-side Team Members
  • Agile Team Members
  • Subject Matter Experts (SME)
  • Project Leaders and Managers
  • Systems Analysts and Designers
  • AND “anyone wearing the business analysis hat”, meaning anyone responsible for defining a future IT solution

What Can You Do After the Course?

You will learn how to:

  • Identify potential stakeholders early in the project
  • Manage the requirements elicitation process with a Question File
  • Recognize, track, and report progress toward requirements completion
  • Define, document, and analyze business problems to ferret out hidden requirements
  • Facilitate effective requirements brainstorming sessions to uncover additional requirements
  • Use 10 critical questions to initiate the requirements elicitation process
  • Capture and communicate assumptions about your requirements
  • Avoid “analysis paralysis” by recognizing when it is time to stop eliciting and start deciding

Detailed Course Outline

1. Introduction to Requirements Elicitation Techniques

Every analysis of IT projects over the past seventy-plus years identifies missing and misunderstood requirements as the major cause of project overruns and failures. In this section, the instructor, Tom Hathaway, describes several factors that contribute to the challenge. He also explains what you will learn in this course to conquer these challenges.

  • Welcome to the Course (Free Preview)

2. Managing Requirements Elicitation with a Question File

Two of the biggest challenges for the one tasked with requirements elicitation for an IT project are, “Where do I start?” and “How do I know when I’m done?” A simple concept we call the “Question File” is one of the best techniques we know for managing requirements elicitation. Learn how to embrace uncertainty and leverage it to start your project off on the right foot.

  • A Question File Quantifies Uncertainty
  • Discoverin What You Do Not Know
  • Minimal Layout of the Question File
  • Use Your Question File to Combat Analysis Paralysis (Free Preview)

3. Identify Stakeholders for Requirements Discovery

Having the right project stakeholders will make or break your project. Start identifying stakeholders from the beginning of the project and continue throughout. In this section, you will learn how to identify different types of stakeholders from Internal and External Users to Creators and Special Interest Groups such as the Legal Department, Auditors, Finance, Compliance, etc.

  • Missing Stakeholders Means Missing Requirements
  • Discover Stakeholders on an Org Chart
  • Create and Maintain a Stakeholder List

4. Problem Analysis Initiates Requirements Gathering

Analyzing problems that the business community has with their current business systems is an essential part of gathering requirements. Our approach to Business Problem Analysis identifies the “Real” problem and seeds an initial list of potential requirement statements as a start to requirements discovery. By initiating the project with a problem list you are setting the stage for success.

  • Collect Problems from ALL Stakeholders
  • A Well-Structured Problem List
  • A Simple Problem Analysis Technique
  • Will the Real Problem Please Stand Out

5. Requirements Brainstorming

Requirements brainstorming can be impressive. For example, in one 10-minute brainstorming session during a Requirements Gathering Workshop, we identified 128 specific stakeholder requirements for a mission-critical application. How can you achieve similar results? Learn how to prepare and conduct effective requirements brainstorming sessions to get initial requirements for your project.

  • To Brainstorm or Not to Brainstorm
  • Prepare the Session and the Participants
  • Maintain Momentum from Start to Finish
  • Post-Session Steps and Lessons Learned

6. Ten Quick Questions Guide Requirements Discovery

Preparing questions for which you need answers is critical to the success of your requirements interviews. For starters, we have collected a set of what we consider critical questions. If you do not ask these questions, you run the risk of missing critical requirements. The questions are recursive, meaning you can ask them repeatedly throughout the project at ever-increasing levels of detail.

  • Introduction to the Quick Ten (Free Preview)
  • Discover Functional Requirements
  • Don’t Ignore Non-Functional Requirements
  • Capture Constraints
  • Leverage 10 Critical Questions

7. Requirements Elicitation Techniques Wrap-up

In closing the course, the instructor reviews the presented techniques (Identifying Stakeholders, Managing Requirements Elicitation, Problem Analysis, Requirements Brainstorming, and the Quick Ten) with the rationale for each. He also provides a “Personal Improvement Plan” that will help you integrate the techniques into your daily life.

  • Recap and Rationale of Covered Topics (Free Preview)
  • What Do You Do Next?

Lesson Previews

Learn Lean / Agile Business Analysis Techniques

Book - Lean Agile User Stories and Features

Self-paced Course – Agile Business Analysis: Getting and Writing Lean Requirements

Lean Business Analysis for Lean Requirements: Techniques for Discovering and Writing User Stories, Acceptance Tests, Scenarios and Examples

Requirements Gathering with Use Cases for Business Analysts

Lean Use Cases to identify and write Use Case models and diagrams

Chatting with Humans: User Experience Design (UX) for Chatbots

Simple Conversational Design and Science-based Chatbot Copy that Engages People

Business Analysis: Data Flow Diagrams to Visualize Workflows

Data Flow Diagrams and Process Modeling - Simply Put

Business Analyst Skills Test

Evaluate Your Business Analysis Skills


Requirements Gathering with Use Cases for Business Analysts

Lean Use Cases to identify and write Use Case models and diagrams

Getting and Writing IT Requirements in a Lean and Agile World

Book - Lean Agile User Stories and Features

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This