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Business Analysts Need Multiple Personalities when Eliciting Requirements

Every experience business analyst knows that there is no substitute for well-defined requirements. Unfortunately they are not always given the support or license to perform a true assessment. Sometimes stakeholders and project managers treat requirements gathering synonymously with taking orders. Expecting the analyst to just passing them on in the form of documentation.

If you find yourself in this type of situation you need to channel two types of people:

1.  Inner 2 Year Old 

If you haven’t already guessed it the 2 year old is the one that pulls on your pant leg and asks the dreaded question…WHY? And then WHY? And then WHY? And then WHY? And then WHY again! Until you have said something that satisfies their curiosity or at the least something they finally understood. The BABOK defines this as a key technique: 5 whys of Root Cause Analysis.

2.  Inner Hunter-Gatherer

Hunter-gatherers were typically a society where almost all food is obtained from the wild. In order to truly obtain requirements, you will have to go get the information you need. The BABOK considers this one of their 5 knowledge areas: Elicitation. Elicitation is about interviews, prototypes, facilitated workshops, and even job shadowing. These techniques are meant to surface requirements that would not be provided if you simply gathered them. You also have to hunt for them.

The next time you are at the grocery store and you see someone picking through the fruits and vegetables looking for the just the right one or the little kid in the check out aisle asking why can’t he have a candy, don’t roll your eyes. Instead smile a secret smile, because you know exactly what they are going through!

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