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Russell Brewer
Russell Brewer

Lessons from a Spelling Bee

I remember as a 3rd grade student winning my school’s local Spelling Bee competition and going to compete in the county wide Spelling Bee. Part of the instructions we were given was that we could ask the judges two questions when we received our word. We could ask for the word to be used in a sentence and we could ask for the definition of the word.

As business analysts today we are well aware that when we elicit a requirement, we should clarify any potentially ambiguous word to make sure that we understand exactly what the stakeholder means by the requirement being given. But is that where we should begin? If, during the initial meeting, the stakeholder requests a deliverable of a high-level requirements document, detail requirements document or needs analysis - does the deliverable that we as business analysts visualize coincide with the deliverable that the stakeholder is visualizing?

When you begin a project and a stakeholder requests a specific document from you (high-level business requirements) you should begin by reaching agreement with the stakeholder concerning what a high-level requirements document will look like and what information it will contain. It could be that your stakeholder is using a buzz-word without really understanding what they are requesting. They could have also seen a template at another company or on a website of a high-level requirements document that you are not aware of, and that is totally different than the template you are planning to use.

Just as in the Spelling Bee, a good initial question to always ask is “Definition please?”

This entry was published on May 28, 2013 / Russell Brewer. Posted in Business Analysis. Bookmark the Permalink or E-mail it to a friend.
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srikanthba posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 10:45 AM
Good One !! Learning from the basics. In contrast, Client / Business Team may be frustrated at such a request. To avoid it , I take the stand of discussion on the related topic and sketch him what are my understandings. Basically understanding the expectitions of the client.
Russell Brewer posted on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 6:37 AM
Thank you for your comment. I agree with you. If you follow this suggestion verbatim then your stakeholder may find your question very annoying - or not know how to answer at all. Your elaboration captured the underlying point of the post, to understand up front what the expectations of your stakeholder are. And that understanding needs to be not only at the requirements level but also at the higher, deliverable level.
Russell Brewer
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