Interview Questions for Business Analysts and Systems Analysts

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What approach should a business analyst take when gathering requirements from high level executives versus the end users?

Posted by sonavi

Article Rating // 17729 Views // 2 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Requirements Analysis (BABOK KA), Roles and Responsibilities


For the most part, the methods and techniques for gathering requirements are the same regardless of whom the stakeholders are: interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, requirements workshops.

However, there are definite things that the business analyst should consider when gathering requirements from high-level executives vs. the end users. The business analyst should tailor his approach and expectations based on the stakeholder type.

Here are some ideas, side by side:



High-Level Executives

End Users

Requirement Types Generally provide vision and high-level guidance on the direction of the project. They address key features and major problems to be addressed by the software. Can provide detailed needs and requirements as related to their specific day-to-day jobs.
Usability Are less focused on detailed usability issues but may be interested in general UI and usability guidelines. Are more interested in the usability of the system as they are the power-users. They want the system to be easy to use and efficient (ex: minimize keystrokes and clicks)
Budget/Cost Are very concerned with the cost and budget of the system therefore will be more likely to prioritize requirements and focus on the ones with higher ROI. Less concerned with cost, therefore might provide all kinds of “nice to have” suggestions which may not solve real business problems.
Interviews Effective method of gathering requirements from this group. Effective method of gathering requirements from this group.
Questionnaire Not a good way to gather requirements from executives. The execs may actually be the ones approving the questionnaires before sent to end users. A valuable tool when certain statistics need to be collected from a very large number of potential end users and stakeholders.
Requirements Workshop Effective method of gathering requirements from this group. It is desirable to have all the decision-making stakeholders in the room when identifying the requirement rankings and when making key design decisions. Effective method of gathering requirements from this group.
It is a good idea to have a number of workshops one for each user type (ex: advanced users vs. most users vs. new/inexperienced user).
Time Availability High-level executives are very busy so the business analyst must be very well prepared before meeting with this group of stakeholders. Be prepared to focus on the most important problems, issues, questions, etc. The business analyst should use this group to ensure that the direction and goal of the project is clear and well understood. With this stakeholder group, you might have the luxury of time and ability to cycle back later to clarify requirements. Having said that, these users tend to be less experienced so the business analyst must be able to present the information in simpler and easier to understand ways.




Olya posted on Thursday, June 12, 2008 3:54 AM
The idea of having two different approaches for gathering req -s from execs and end-users is quite obvious. But it was very helpful to have a structured overview on techniques which apply in both cases. Thank you for your article!
Dave Smith posted on Monday, April 6, 2009 9:15 AM
In my experience, End-Users in jobs like Bank Cashier/Call Centre Worker are measured by the number of customers they 'process' in a given time (or queue lengths), therefore don't assume that you will get lots of time with these Users or the opportunity to 'cycle back later'.
Dave Smith
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

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