Managing Requirements is an Art Mastered by a Business Analyst


In a classic business analyst universe, requirements are the soul of all the work a business analyst does. If a business analyst fails to identify and translate the right requirements, they’re out of a job. This is the reason why a successful business analyst is always good at requirements handling/management process.

What makes requirements an essential part of a BA’s job?

For a business analyst, requirements are defined as the logical and essential steps which needs to be fulfilled in order to achieve a successful end-state or a solution to a stakeholder’s business problem. These requirements drive the solution and are the key elements of any successful solution implementation. Business analysts are the ones who not only ensures the expected solution is delivered, but they’re also the owner of the requirements handling/management process. Business analysts identify the right requirements and help them convert into a form consumable by delivery teams to deliver the expected outcome in a timely manner.

The requirements management/handling process consists of 4 basic steps: Discovery, Analyze, Draft and Implement.

1.     Discovery

Requirements discovery is a phase in which we identify, gather and scope the requirements. This phase builds the basic requirements framework for delivery. To identify and gather requirements, a business analyst uses various requirements elicitation techniques like observation, shadowing, protocol analysis, apprenticeship, prototyping, focus groups, scenario’s, background research and many others. These techniques are aimed towards gathering information related to a business problem and/or a solution that business stakeholders are trying to achieve.

Requirements identification is a highly interactive activity, which relies on the involvement of the right stakeholders. Elicitation activities continue while a business analyst traverse through other stages/steps of requirements gathering.

It is very important for a business analyst to not only identify but to scope the requirement. Requirements are driven by information collected by various elicitation methods; however, the relevancy of the requirement needs to be determined.

The simplest way to do so is to perform some of the elicitation techniques repetitively. Look for facts via secondary support of documents or information from another source just to verify. Chart your scope based on the overall direction of the information flow and the end-state which stakeholders are trying to achieve.

Scoping cannot be definitive in the business analyst’s landscape. It’s a loose boundary which needs to be flexible enough to account for other business or priority changes. Loose boundaries do help the business analyst in defining a playground where they need to operate for a successful outcome.

2.     Analyze

The most important activity of the requirements handling process is to analyze a requirement. Analyzing a requirement will provide us with a definite outcome along with the complete information on achieving that outcome. There can be various types of analysis like strategic analysis, functional and technical analysis.

Strategic analysis is performed by understanding the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats provided by implementing this requirement. It helps a business analyst to understand the priority and criticality of the requirement which also determines how essential it is for a business to implement those requirements.

Functional analysis provides an ability to understand the requirement from the end user perspective.  It is performed by interacting with people who’re impacted by the implementation of requirements. This provides unique opportunity for a business analyst to shape the solution in a way that accommodates the minimal, easy to adapt change to the end users or the impacted.

Technical analysis is performed by further breaking down functional requirements into a series of small implementation steps which a delivery person can understand. It is the delivery person/team who needs to deliver the technical solution. It is important to not miss any aspect of functional requirement to be translated into technical requirements which is a supporting pillar for successful solution implementation.

Depending upon the type of analysis, we determine the type of requirement. Upon successfully analyzing and understanding the type of requirement we start drafting requirements into various artifacts.

3.     Draft

Once a business analyst has understood the type of requirements and its expected outcome, business analyst can draft those requirements in their respective artifacts. There’re various artifacts such as business requirements document and/or specification requirements document and user stories which are authored and owned by a business analyst while there’re some other like project charter, technical design document or anything alike to which a business analyst contributes actively. Drafting of requirements take the utmost time as the translation needs clarifications and numerous back and forth interactions. Once a requirement drafting is complete, it’s time to walk them through with the entire team.

4.     Implement

The first step of requirements implementation is to arrange for a walk-through of freshly drafted requirements where the audience includes all stakeholders including delivery team. This walk-through session helps with course correction of requirements if there’s a miss while drafting them. Also, requirements walkthrough is a common platform where in the stakeholders and other team members have the opportunity to ensure alignment of the requirements to the desired end state. Once the requirements are defined and finalized, business analysts have to ensure continuous requirement refinement for successful delivery.

This is the final step of requirements management process. Once the requirement has been identified, scoped, analyzed, drafted and confirmed, business analysts have to keep their eye out for on-going business changes, these changes may affect any of the existing requirements and their desired outcomes. As business changes are constant, the impacts on the already drafted requirements is constant. There is a small deviation of requirements which can still be managed by refining the requirement and updating them, but then if the deviation requires additional effort for which the cost involved is high, then changes are to be considered for enhancement. This decision must be evaluated by a business analyst before taking appropriate actions accordingly.

At this stage, all the requirements are the guiding principle for the delivery team to deliver the solution. Requirements Handling/Management Process is the one, a business analyst has to master to be considered as successful.

Author: Nimil Parikh, Business Analyst

Nimil Parikh is a new generation business analyst who transforms business processes by leveraging IT tools and applications. He has over 7 years of experience modeling, analyzing, measuring, improving, optimizing and automating business processes. He adds value by his ability to context switch while providing cross-functional business solution and ensuring timely delivery by managing and streamlining business processes and driving strategic leadership. He is known to introduce IT business transformation and ensure successful implementation. Nimil possess MBA from San Jose State university, MBA Marketing and Information technology engineering from India. Nimil lives in Campbell, California. He enjoys challenges and believes in making things right. Reach him via email – [email protected]


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