3 reasons your stakeholders flip flop

It’s getting to be flip-flop season here in the Western hemisphere and it got me thinking about how stakeholders can flip flop on requirements. In other words, change their mind about what they want.

flip flopIn my experience, there are 3 primary reasons this happens.

  1. They have not bought in to the business objectives. Perhaps yes, everyone agreed the project should do X, but someone is still hoping and dreaming to really accomplish Y. They might not even realize that they are trying to finagle their agenda into the requirements (although certainly sometimes this can be very deliberate), they simply provide information that’s aligned with one objective first and then another objective next. Using these 7 questions in your requirements sessions can help surface hidden agendas and latent information.
  2. New information or learning has surfaced. Let’s face it, the process and requirements analysis process is a learning experience for everyone involved. After attending a requirements session, they may look at their work in a new light, and realize that they really need one thing rather than another.
  3. They didn’t really understand the requirements. If you are still relying on walk-throughs of big thick requirements documents to validate requirements, there is likely to be an understanding gap between you and your stakeholders. In this case, they aren’t really flip flopping so much as finally getting clear on what they really want. (This is why mature BAs like to use a variety of visual models to help clarify their requirements.)

The next time a stakeholder flip flops on the requirements, consider whether any of these reasons are the root cause. This is great learning for you, the business analyst, to apply to improve your business analysis process.

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