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We know that we must involve all the stakeholders if we want to discover a project’s requirements. But we need some guidelines on how to involve the right people and, given how busy everyone is, how to minimize the time and maximize the result. In this article, requirements expert Ellen Gottesdiener (www.ebgconsulting.com) shares her considerable experience running requirements workshops.
There is plenty of hard and anecdotal evidence that the most critical factor for your product’s success is your stakeholders’ involvement in defining requirements. Put another way, insufficient stakeholder involvement is often cited as causing erroneous requirements and project failure.
Why do we often fail to exploit this rich resource? As a longtime requirements facilitator and consultant, I think I know. Project stakeholders—those who affect or are affected by the software—have diverse and even conflicting needs and viewpoints that complicate the already slippery slope of discovery and ambiguity that often characterizes requirements development. In other words, getting stakeholder input is hard, and we often don’t know how to do it effectively.
A technique I’ve used many times in various industries and types of organizations is to hold collaborative workshops. You can use workshops for many purposes—for example, to outline the project’s vision and scope, to create a release strategy or iteration plan, or to define requirements in varying levels of detail. The beauty of this technique is that it creates an efficient, controlled, and dynamic setting where you can quickly elicit, prioritize, and agree on a set of high-quality project requirements. This column explains a key aspect of collaborative requirements workshops: identifying who should participate and outlining their roles.
Author: Ellen Gottesdiener
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