10 Techniques for Gathering Requirements

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Text of 10 Techniques for Gathering Requirements

Focus Groups

Focus Groups.

Functional Decomposition.

Interface Analysis.


Lessons Learned Process.

Metrics and KPI.

Non-Functional Decomposition.


Organizational Modeling.

Problem Tracking.

The most important single aspect of software

development is to be clear about what you are

trying to build.



What is a focus group?

Semi-structured group interview.

Focused discussion with moderator.

6 12 participants, 1 3 hours.

Homogenous group.


What can a focus group do?

Explore attitudes, opinions, behaviors, beliefs & recommendations ofa group.

Define problems, gather reactions to proposed solutions, explorefeelings and reasons behind differences.

Test messages, make packaging decisions, determine the right outletsand public.

For products or messages, gauge public reaction to positions, exploreopinions about company performance.

Advantages of focus groups

Socially-oriented: useful in problem definition and message testing.

Possible to probe positive or negative reactions.

Relatively inexpensive, quick results.


Disadvantages of focus groups

Can be difficult to control.

Questionable reliability.

Difficult to recruit\assemble.

Should not be used:

In confrontational situations.

For statistical projections.

Confidentiality cannot be assured.

Analysis occurs only when the domain expert is in

Brad Kain, quoted in "UML Distilled"

the room (otherwise it is pseudo-analysis).



What is a functional decomposition?

Breaking down a large problem into smaller functions or deliverables (WBS).

Sub-problems are independent.

Work can be assigned to different groups.

What can a functional decomposition do?

Identifies the high-level function then breaks those functions intosmaller pieces.

A similar process can be carried out for the work involved in a project.

Decomposition can also be performed to describe a product orprocess.

Advantages of functional decomposition

Creates a conceptual model of the work that needs to be completed.

Provides all stakeholders with a consistent view of the scope.

More readily understandable, subsets of the whole.

Disadvantages of functional decomposition

No way to be certain that all components have been captured.

Decomposition without understanding the relationship betweenpieces may create an inappropriate structure.



What is an interface analysis?

Interface is a connection between two components.

Interface include:

User interface.

Interface to\from external applications\hardware-devices.

What can an interface analysis do?

Distinguishes which application provides specific functionality.

Identifying what interfaces are necessary.

Advantages of interface analysis

More accurate project planning and potential savings in time andcost.

Collaboration with other systems or projects.

Specification of the interfaces should prevent difficulties in integratingmultiple components.

Disadvantages of interface analysis

Does not provide insight into other aspects of the solution.


What is an interview?

A type of qualitative research.

Combination of observation and one-on-one interviewing.

Interviewing is a way to collect data as well as to gain knowledgefrom individuals Kvale.

What can an interview do?

Allows interviewers to question in real time.

Gain insights about people.

Advantages of interviews

Simple, direct technique.

Enables observations of non-verbal behavior.

Disadvantages of interviews

Requires considerable commitment and involvement of theparticipants.

Training is required to conduct effective interviews.

Lessons Learned


What is a Lessons Learned Process?

Historical data of a project that reflect the reasoning behind actionschosen to correct variances.

Recorded throughout the project lifecycle.

What can a Lessons Learned Process do?

Identifies improvement opportunities.

Initiate actionable next steps.

Advantages of Lessons Learned Process

Useful for identifying opportunities for process improvement.

Helps build team morale after a difficult period.

Disadvantages of Lessons Learned Process

All participants must be prepared.

Participants may be reluctant to document and discuss problems.

Metrics and Key

Performance Indicators

What is Metrics and KPI?

A metric that helps you understand how you are doing against yourobjectives. Avinash Kaishik.

What can a Metrics and KPI do?

Evaluates an organizations success.

Identification of potential improvements.

Advantages of Metrics and KPI

Allows stakeholders to understand the extent to which a solution.

Shows how effective the inputs and activities.

Disadvantages of Metrics and KPI

Gathering data beyond the needs create unnecessary cost.

You get what you measure.

Non-functional Requirements Analysis

What is NFR analysis do?

Describe the non-behavioral aspects of a system, capturing theproperties and constraints under which a system must operate.

Chung and Julio.

What can a NFR analysis do?

Expressing critical holistic requirements.

Defines the overall qualities or attributes of the resulting system (e.g.safety, security, usability, reliability).

Advantages of NFR analysis

Success in meeting non-functional requirements will have a strong influence on whether or not a system is accepted by its users.

Disadvantages of NFR analysis

More difficult to define.

May significantly impact the cost of developing a softwareapplication.

Walking on water and developing software from

Edward V. Berard

a specification are easy if both are frozen.


What is an observation?

Eliciting requirements by conducting an assessment of thestakeholders work environment.

What can an observation do?

Studying people performing their jobs.

Understand the current processes to better assess the processmodifications.

Advantages of observation

Provides realistic and practical insight into the business.

Elicits details of informal communication.

Disadvantages of observation

Could be time-consuming.

May be disruptive to the person being shadowed.



What is an Organization Modeling?

It consists of activities such as task allocation, coordination andsupervision.

Activities are directed towards the achievement of organizationalaims.

What can an Organization Modeling do?

Defines how an organization or organizational unit is structured.

Define the scope of the organizational unit.

Know your workers.

Advantages Organization Modeling

Gives members clear guidelines for how to proceed.

Structure binds members together.

Disadvantages of Organization Modeling

Organizational redesigns are likely to be highly contentious andrequire significant executive support in order to be successful.

Very "resource-intensive" in terms of both people and money.



What is a Problem Tracking?

Organized approach to tracking, management, and resolution ofdefects, issues, problems, and risks throughout business analysisactivities.

Management of issues can be resolved in a timely manner.

What can a Problem Tracking do?

Identification of root causes of problems.

Management of issues can be resolved in a timely manner.

Advantages of Problem Tracking

Provides an organized method for tracking and resolving risks.

Helps to maintain focus on open problems until they are resolved.

Disadvantages of Problem Tracking

Root cause analysis of the problems can take more time andresources.

If management of problems is not done, the list becomes outdatedand irrelevant.

Thanks to sources

On Non-Functional Requirements in Software Engineering - Chung and Julio.

A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK Guide).

Using interviews as research instruments - Annabel Bhamani Kajornboon.

User Interview Techniques - The Art of the Question by Liz Danzico.


Focus Groups by Kelli Matthews.