Services | Requirements Elicitation

Gathering your business requirements

Collecting, organising and analysing your business requirements.

requirement gathering

What is requirements elicitation?

Requirements gathering—more formally called requirements elicitation—is the process of collecting a list of business needs from various stakeholders.

This can be done through holding workshops or sitting with people individually. Requirements are gathered by asking users

  • how they currently work,
  • particularly what is not working well, and
  • how they'd like any new system to work.

Once the requirements have been gathered, it's important to document and prioritise these business requirements—although in the technical world that part is usually called requirements analysis.

What sort of requirements are we talking about?

Anything that you need your systems to do is a "requirement".

Some requirements will be straightforward—for example, if it's a payroll system you're looking at, you'll need the system to calculate the correct taxes to deduct, produce payslips etc. These sort of needs, are called functional requirements. Some functional requirements are not as obvious.

Before we get started with functional requirements, we'd usually look at design requirements. These are high-level requirements, looking at who will be using the system and what environment the system will have to fit in to.

Following that idea closely are interface requirements. What systems will the new software have to interactive with? In our payroll software example, that may be banking software to make payments.

You'll also want to consider non-functional requirements, such as security, performance, availability, reliability, scalability and business continuity. It can be a lot to think about.

types of requirements

Types of system requirements

Design requirements

Design requirements provide the context for developing or choosing your system. They include user characteristics and the operating environment.

Use cases

Use cases illustrate how people are expected to use the system. They normally depict the flow of events as a diagram.

Functional requirements

These requirements describe the specific functions that the system should perform.

Interface requirements

This includes answering questions about any other systems the new software will interactive with, but also how the users will interactive with it.

Non-functional requirements

Sometimes it's not the functions of a system, but how the system performs that makes people happy to use it.

Non-functional requirements also include security, availability, scalability and business continuity.

Business requirements

Budget

Of course, a big consideration is how much the system is going to cost. This must include all the costs that are likely to be incurred over the lifetime of the system.

Time to delivery

Required delivery schedules must also be considered.

Future requirements

Finally, let's not forget to consider what the business may need in the future.

Some features may be marked "for another time", or it might be worth getting them now, ready for later.

when requirements go wrong

Why is it so important to get the business requirements right?

It is only by knowing what your business needs, that you can effectively fill that need.

But it's not enough for you to know what you need, you must be able to effectively communicate this to your solution providers.

These are the two objectives of requirements gathering—or requirements elicitation:

  • Discover that the business needs
  • Effectively communicate those business needs

When things go wrong

People are confused about what the system should do

Everyone needs to know what the system will do. This includes users, managers, solution suppliers, consultants and any software developers. Otherwise disagreements arise, sometimes even leading to legal disputes.

The best way to achieve this is to have a clear document where the business requirements are written out in black and white.

The system doesn't work for you

If you can't get the system to do what it needs to do, this is usually down to poor requirements gathering at the beginning of the project.

When things go wrong

It takes longer to deliver the system

If the requirements are not clear up-front, then this will delay implementation.

New modules may need to be added, configured, or built from scratch. Discovering these needs too late can severely hamper a project.

You waste money

Businesses can waste huge amounts of money, either because:

  • Project delays increase costs
  • The project has to be cancelled and all the money spent so far is wasted
  • The new system makes your business less efficient, and less productive

How can having specialist support help you?

Getting business requirements right can be an awful lot to think about. Mistakes at this stage can be very costly. But we're here to support you.

You benefit

You don't need to worry

You can relax, it's not all on you.

You can be confident that you're getting it right

You can be confident, knowing that your software is being selected the right way, supported by specialists, using a proven methodology.

You can ask us anything

You get to ask questions, run things past us and use us as a sounding board.

No question is a stupid question, and we're happy to share what we know.

You save time, by letting us do the hard work

Gathering requirements is not a quick task.

Can you really spare the time to do it?

Your business benefits

Guidance

Your business will benefit from having a guide on hand to help you make the right decision, to point out any potential problems, and support you to really get the most out of your new system.

Fresh perspective

Your business will benefit from the fresh perspective that an independent business analyst will bring.

Being on the outside looking in, we can sometimes get a clearer view of what you need.

Independent advice

Your business will benefit from impartial, unbiased advice.

We're not trying to sell you any one system. We're on your side. If we think something is in your best interests, we'll tell you about it.

Would you like to know more?

Talk to us to find out how we could help you.

Is this not what you're looking for? Try our other business technology services.

If you are looking to buy a new software system, then you may be interested in our software selection service.