Building a “Just Right” Set of Project Requirements

How hard can building a complete, comprehensive, consistent, and understandable set of project requirements be? We all know that our project requirements should not just be a jumble of information.  The trick is making sure that we structure and organize those requirements properly so they define what is needed at the correct level of detail. Effective business analysts are masters at defining the level of abstraction or detail for their project’s requirements and then using that information to select the right requirement modeling technique or techniques.

The BABOK® Guide can help you get this job done as part of structuring and organizing requirements. This standard defines business, stakeholder, solution and transition requirements, which provides you with a starting point and a set of “buckets” for the different levels of abstraction or detail found in your project requirements. For example, business requirements are high-level and focus on the big picture of what an organization requires in order to address a business need. Solution requirements are far more detailed, providing a basis to design and develop the capabilities needed in a new solution and its components.

Business analysts can then factor in their selected levels of requirements abstraction and the names of those levels into their requirements elicitation and analysis activities.  Once you know what you need and the level of detail you are seeking, you can also determine what requirements modeling approach and techniques will support your requirements development efforts.

Remember, models are abstract and simplified views of what capabilities are needed in your project’s solution. There are five general modeling concepts that the BABOK® Guide recommends you consider using as part of your requirement modeling activities. Each concept  or area of focus has one or more specific modeling techniques that can be used.

User Classes, Profiles, or Roles. These models categorize and describe the people who directly interact with the solution, grouping them by their needs, expectations and goals for that solution. Roles often correspond to project stakeholders, and are identified during stakeholder analysis. User classes, profiles and roles are used by a number of common requirements analysis models, including organization models, process models, and use cases.

Concepts and Relationships. Concepts show us something in the real world, such as a person, place or thing. They define facts relative to that something and its relationships with other concepts. Business analysts can take this approach one step further, using data models as part of requirements analysis modeling to describe the attributes associated with a particular concept or set of related concepts.

Events. Events are triggers that prompt the business or a solution to respond to the event and do something, such as processing a customer order that has just been placed online. Events can be internal or external to the business, and can occur randomly or at regularly scheduled times. The stimulus-response flow of events is used by a number of common requirements analysis models, including scope models, process models, state diagrams, and use cases.

Processes. Process models are like a series of events without any trigger. Processes are series of repeatable activities performed by an organization involving its people and systems. Processes describe who does something and when that something must be done. Processes are used by a number of common requirements analysis models, including organization models, state diagrams, and use cases.

Rules. Rules guide how people make decisions within an organization. They guide how information about something can change and define the range of valid values it can change to. Rules often reflect organizational priorities, and are often embedded in process models, state diagrams and use cases.

Check out Learning Tree’s introductory business analysis course if you are looking for a great way to get started or fine tune your skills as a business analyst on your projects.  This course allows you to practice and fine tune your skills in writing and modeling the requirements for your projects and their proposed solutions.

Happy requirements modeling!

Susan Weese

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