While we’ve already talked about the importance of Preparing for Elicitation and Conducting Elicitation Activities, it’s not enough to stop there. The next two (and IMHO, critical) tasks in the Elicitation Knowledge area are Document Elicitation Results and Confirm Elicitation Results.
Record the information provided by stakeholders for use in analysis.
The purpose of Confirm Elicitation Results is to:
Validate that the stated requirements expressed by the stakeholder match the stakeholder’s understanding of the problem and the stakeholder needs.
Together these two tasks take up a mere 4 pages in the BABOK and they can be quite simple to execute on. Yet they are often overlooked even though they are critical to the success of any project.
Through these two tasks, we are essentially saying a big, “I heard you” (which happens to be a great way to get stakeholders to stop repeating themselves, just in case you have that issue). And, even if the project takes another direction, a stakeholder’s needs go unmet, or their problems are simply not as much worth solving as other bigger problems unearthed during elicitation, at least they know upfront that they had their say.
Most simply, documenting elicitation results takes the form of meeting notes, though it can also include recordings or other physical means of capturing what was discussed (such as a whiteboard, a picture of a whiteboard, or the renderings from a whiteboard session recreated using a modeling tool). Interestingly, in the BABOK, each elicitation technique is coupled with a suggestion as to how to document the results when using that activity. Sometimes reports are captured after the elicitation activity and sometimes, such as during brainstorming or a requirements workshop, the activity itself produces the results.
For example, many times throughout my career, I’ve captured a synopsis of the discussion on the whiteboard. In these cases, the whiteboard itself is the documentation of our conversation and, when captured via photograph, no other documentation is required.
Simultaneously, the whiteboard drawing has also served to confirm results. Confirming elicitation results involves sharing the results with those who participated in the activity to be sure you got it right. This is when the stakeholder feels, “I heard you” or, if you got something wrong, “I wasn’t heard,” Capturing the ideas discussed on a whiteboard documents confirm the elicitation results by giving everyone the chance to make corrections on-the-fly.
Regardless of the elicitation process used, if you are truly confirming elicitation results and not just publishing notes for the sake of checking off a task on your list, your stakeholders are empowered to provide feedback if you misheard what they told you and they need to provide clarification. And therein lies the power. Before we strut off analyzing, prioritizing, and coming up with solutions to requirements, it’s critical to confirm, “did I hear you right?” in the first place. Otherwise, everything else you do is built on the foundation of the wrong information.
This post is one installment in our Journey Through the BABOK with BA Stories series.