4 Tips for Running Effective Workshops

Business Analysis has to do with understanding clients’ needs and trying to offer value through the products you deliver to them. Customer is the final judge and the more the product we develop for them is fulfilling his needs the more he will be happy.

Workshops are a common method for requirements gathering and elicitation. It’s one of the best ways to ensure effective and bidirectional communication between stakeholders and reach consensus on a topic. However common pitfalls can prevent from having the results you want.

Four tips are presented:

  1. Have a specific agenda

You have to define the specific purpose of the workshop. May the purpose varies from a high level capturing of needs to a specific finalization of an integration. After clarifying the purpose then you have to develop specific expected outcomes per area. As time constraints exist is crucial to have the answers you want at specific questions you have. Having a logical sequential discussion flow will prevent from limitless philosophical discussions without any conclusion at the end.

  1. Get the right people involved

Identify the key stakeholders that have knowledge on the area of interest, decision making authority and influence. Try to have a list of participants knowing what every participant can contribute. The right mixture of participants is the one that will lead to final conclusions that are approved and will close as much open points as possible.

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  1. Pose the right questions

Making the right questions at the right time is crucial. A specific question may clarify things out, give to the customer another perspective that has not think about and contribute to having specific agreed points at the end of the workshop and reduce open points.

  1. Have evaluation criteria

Workshop results has to be agreed and confirmed by every participant. Before having something finalized in the workshop results make a quick evaluation using predefined acceptance criteria. Technical feasibility, usability and cost are some common evaluation criteria

Facilitating a successful workshop for sure needs experience and may be challenging. However the proper preparation, the clear scope and purpose. Lacking of previous insightful preparation of a workshop can lead to its derailment in the sense of giving space to expression of wishful thoughts that are neither specific nor feasible. On the other hand, dogmatic obsession with the narrow capabilities of the system can prevent the development of potential functions and features that are easy to implement and provide value.


Giorgos Sioutzos

Giorgos Sioutzos is working at business consulting industry as a business analyst. He holds a BSc in Management Science and Technology from Athens University of Economics and Business and Msc in International Business & Management from ALBA Graduate Business School. Numerus articles about business and technology issues have been published in most reputable Greek and foreign media. Certifications: CCBA, PRINCE2, ITIL Bio - Short.