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Services | 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
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.
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.
Design requirements provide the context for developing or choosing your system. They include user characteristics and the operating environment.
Use cases illustrate how people are expected to use the system. They normally depict the flow of events as a diagram.
These requirements describe the specific functions that the system should perform.
This includes answering questions about any other systems the new software will interact with, but also how the users will interact with it.
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.
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.
Required delivery schedules must also be considered.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Businesses can waste huge amounts of money, either because:
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 can relax, it's not all on you.
You can be confident, knowing that your software is being selected the right way, supported by specialists, using a proven methodology.
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.
Gathering requirements is not a quick task.
Can you really spare the time to do it?
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.
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.
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.
Talk to us to find out how we could help you.
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