What is Requirements Discovery
Requirements discovery is also often referred to as requirements elicitation, requirements gathering, requirements analysis, and requirements definition. We prefer to use the term because it's a little less high-brow, more meaningful, and more appropriate to the activity it is intended to describe.
The Requirements Discovery Process
The typical process for requirements discovery involves the following six activities:
> Requirements PlanningÂ
> Requirements ElicitationÂ
> Requirements Analysis & DocumentationÂ
> Requirements Verification & ReviewÂ
> Requirements Validation & AcceptanceÂ
> Requirements Change Management
Origin of the Term Requirements Discovery
The term was initial coined by Ross Little in the late 80's. Ross, now a principal with IAG Consulting, adapted the term from the legal profession. As a practicing Business Analyst, Little was working to evolve methods, practices and standards from the worlds of structured systems analysis, software engineering, total quality management and business process reengineering. Little credits his father, a lawyer, introducing him to the legal discovery process - and the genesis of the idea to apply some of those concepts to how organizations should gather information to define requirements for business solutions and change.
In the legal community "discovery" is the approach used to determine the facts about a case. Legal discovery mechanisms may be traced back to procedures of the ecclesiastical courts in England as early as the 16th century in which litigants delivered pleadings and obtained answers by means of examination under oath. As legal discovery in American law is the pretrial phase of a lawsuit, requirements discovery is the pre-design phase of a business transformation, or application development project.
In the legal discovery process, 'witnesses' are 'examined' prior to trial by means of 'questions' in an 'examination'. Their 'testimony' is recorded by an 'examiner' and written as a 'deposition'. In the requirements discovery process for application development, 'subject matter experts' are 'engaged' prior to the 'design and development' by means of 'modeling and questioning' in a 'Requirements Discovery Session'. Their 'requirements' are record by a 'business analyst' and written in a 'requirements document'.
Fundamental to the process, as in the legal world, discovery absolutely requires the direct involvement of the subject matter experts (the witnesses). Imagine a legal process where the lawyers determined the facts of the case without questioning the involved parties. Similarly, a requirements process would be doomed to failure if the business analysts and project managers wrote the specification (the testimony) themselves without the users and experts. (It would be nice if business analysts could compel subject matter experts to participate through subpoenas, though)
Like the legal discovery process there are a variety of methods of discovery: oral discovery in joint meetings, discovery by written questions and answers (surveys), documentary discovery (examining pre-existing documents, systems, models, etc.)
Requirement Discovery Links
- Fact-Finding Techniques for Requirement Discovery
File Format: Microsoft Powerpoint - Requirements discovery - the process and techniques used by systems analysts to identify or extract system problems and solution requirements from the user ...
- Whitepaper: Requirements discovery and elicitation: Tactics for Tomorrow .
Requirements discovery and elicitation is a process - not a deliverable. This paper takes an intense look at the factors that are best used to control the risk of project failure...
- Paper: DOE Requirements Discovery Process
A 1997 paper on a requirements discovery process
- Webinar: Optimizing Requirements Discovery
...underlying problems that impede the collection of business requirements and make projects less successful...
- Facilitating a Requirements Discovery Session
Course from IAG on how to elicit requirements in a discovery session
- 15 Types of Questions to use in your Requirements Discovery Sessions
As a facilitator of Requirements Discovery Sessions, one of your primary skills is questioning. Here are the fifteen types of questions you should be using when you are facilitating a requirements discovery session on your projects...
- Course: Business Analysis ― Requirements Discovery and Facilitation
This course is a 3-day, very interactive curriculum that focuses on the role of the BA within the technical process of software development...
- Article: Ongoing Requirements Discovery in High-Integrity Systems
The discovery of new requirements and new requirements knowledge continues throughout the lifetime of many high-integrity embedded systems. Anomaly reports from testing and operations on eight spacecraft at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory revealed four
- Case Study: Outsourcing Requirements Discovery
IAG Consulting was engaged by an innovative, fast-growing pharmaceutical company that commercializes the drugs discovered by its international parent. Over 30 months, IAG helped this company bring 12 projects, averaging $1 million, into production.
- Q&A: Finding Techniques for Requirements Discovery
What are the potential consequences and the costs of rushing through the requirements discovery process?
- Blog Post: Requirements Discovery by Chcuk Morrison
Requirements discovery and management defines and controls all processes and procedures required for the management of project information. The requirements discovery phase produces the requirements specification which is the basis for Requirements M
- Paper: Resolving Requirements Discovery in Testing and Operations
Paper from 11th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE'03) describes the results of an investigation into requirements discovery during testing and operations...
- Case Study: Requirements Discovery and Management
IAG Consulting was brought in by the IT project management organization at one of North America's largest financial institutions. They realized that business requirements for a critical system upgrade were not coming together efficiently...
- Tips for Getting Requirements Discovery Sessions Back on Track
A tip sheet handout on facilitation techniques for handling requirements dicovery session challenges
What if Requirements Discovery Were Really Like the Legal System
(A lighter look at the legal and requirements discovery processes)
Wouldn't it be nice if some of these legal rules applied to business analysis?:
(based on various rules, laws around the world for the legal process)
- business analysts could compel subject matter experts to participate through subpoenas (US)
- requirements discovery is legally required for projects over $50,000 as an examination for legal discovery is required for civil actions where the claim is in excess of $50,000 (Ontario, Canada)
- no proper question may be objected to on the ground that the information is (necessary)
- where a party refuses to answer a proper question within 60 days before trial (release date) the party may not rely on that information (may not add it is a requirement later)
- where a person being examined does not produce all relevant documents at the examination, they must be presented within two days.
- where there is default or misconduct by persons examining or being examined, the court may impose a range of cost sanctions and other justified orders.
And maybe there are some good legal procedures that could be adapted to your requirements discovery process such as:
- oral examinations must be recorded and transcripts provided within four weeks of a request
- the examination must occur in the jurisdiction where the person to be examined resides
- when a list of written questions is served on the person to be examined, the questions must be answered within 15 days by affidavit in a prescribed form. Where the examining party is not satisfied with an answer, or where an answer suggests a new line of questioning, a further list of questions may be served within ten days
And then there may be some legal rules that should apply, such as:
- information given at an examination (a Requirements Discovery Session) may be used to impeach a witness (fire an employee). (Yes - that might be going too far)
Let me know if you have any others...