A guide on elicitation techniques and why they are different of gathering requirements.
Business Analysis - Elicitation and Collaboration
These tasks that business analysts perform to obtain information from stakeholders and confirm the results. It also describes the communication with stakeholders once the business analysis information is assembled.
Elicitation is the process of gathering information from sources such as stakeholders or other sources. It is the primary method for learning about needs and designs, and it may involve speaking with stakeholders directly, doing research, conducting experiments, or simply receiving information.
Collaboration is the process by which two or more people cooperate to achieve a common objective. The knowledge area on Elicitation and Collaboration explains how business analysts locate and come to an understanding of all different kinds of business analysis material. In business analysis, elicitation and collaboration work is never in a “phase”; rather, it is ongoing as long as business analysis work is being done.
Collaboration and elicitation can happen on purpose, accidentally, or both. Workshops, experiments, and/or surveys are examples of planned activities that can be pre-structured and coordinated. Unplanned events like last-minute or “just in time” collaboration or talks occur suddenly and without warning.
Information gathering for business analysis is a collaborative process. Each assignment that requires interaction with stakeholders as well as independent analytical work by the business analyst will elicit information.
Steps for better Elicitation and Collaboration
Prepare for Elicitation: involves ensuring that the stakeholders have the information they need to provide and that they understand the nature of the activities they are going to perform. It also sets a shared set of expectations regarding the outcomes of the activity. Preparation may also involve identifying research sources or preparing to conduct an experiment to see if a process change actually results in an improvement.
Conduct Elicitation: describes the work performed to understand stakeholder needs and identify potential solutions that may meet those needs. This may involve direct interaction with stakeholders, doing research, or running experiments.
Confirm Elicitation Results: involves ensuring that stakeholders have a shared understanding of the outcomes of elicitation, that elicited information is recorded appropriately, and that the business analyst has the information sought from an elicitation activity. This task also involves comparing the information received with other information to look for inconsistencies or gaps.
Communicate Business Analysis Information: provides stakeholders with the information they need, at the time they need it. The information is presented in a useful form, using the right terminology and concepts.
Manage Stakeholder Collaboration: describes working with stakeholders to engage them in the overall business analysis process and to ensure that the business analyst can deliver the outcomes needed
Remember - The purpose of Conduct Elicitation is to draw out, explore, and identify information relevant to the change.
Types of Elicitation:
Collaborative: involves direct interaction with stakeholders, and relies on their experiences, expertise, and judgment.
Research: involves systematically discovering and studying information from materials or sources that are not directly known by stakeholders involved in the change. Stakeholders might still participate in the research. Research can include data analysis of historical data to identify trends or past results.
Experiments: involves identifying information that could not be known without some sort of controlled test. Some information cannot be drawn from people or documents—because it is unknown. Experiments can help discover this kind of information. Experiments include observational studies, proofs of concept, and prototypes
The purpose of Confirm Elicitation Results is to check the information gathered during an elicitation session for accuracy and consistency with other information.
Elicited information is confirmed to identify any problems and resolve them before resources are committed to using the information. This review may discover errors, omissions, conflicts, and ambiguity.
The elicitation results can be compared against their source and other elicitation results to ensure consistency. Collaboration with stakeholders might be necessary to ensure their inputs are correctly captured and that they agree with the results of non-facilitated elicitation.
- Document Analysis - requirement specifications, business processes, industry standards…
- Interview - have some questions prepared, but be ready that the conversation will evolve to unexpected paths
- Prototyping - an early model of the expected final result (it involves an iterative process)
- Focus Groups
- Requirements workshop
- Interface analysis
- Brainstorming - boost creativity and produce new ideas to further analyze
- Mind mapping
- Delphi Techniques - a structured, iterative, and anonymous communication method used to gather expert opinions, reduce biases, and reach consensus on a specific topic or problem.
MUST DO - Gain Agreement on Commitments
Participants in business analysis activities may need to dedicate time and resources. As early in the project as possible, the business analyst and stakeholders define and accept these obligations. As long as the objectives and desired results of the commitment are understood explicitly, the specifics of the commitments may be stated publicly or informally.
If business analysts cooperate with stakeholders and promote the free flow of information, ideas, and innovations, stakeholders are more likely to support change.
All interested stakeholders must feel heard, that their perspectives count, and that their contributions are valued in order to create genuine stakeholder engagement.
Collaboration involves regular, frequent, and bi-directional communication.
Requirements gathering vs Elicitation
Requirements gathering is a broader term that encompasses the entire process of identifying, collecting, documenting, and organizing the needs, expectations, and constraints of a project’s stakeholders. This process involves various techniques, such as brainstorming sessions, interviews, workshops, surveys, and analyzing existing documentation. The main goal of requirements gathering is to create a comprehensive list of requirements that serves as a basis for project planning, design, implementation, and testing.
Elicitation is a more focused aspect of the requirements gathering process. It specifically refers to the act of drawing out or extracting information from stakeholders, such as users, customers, or domain experts. Elicitation techniques include one-on-one interviews, focus groups, observations, and questionnaires. The primary goal of requirements elicitation is to uncover the stakeholders’ true needs, expectations, and constraints, which may not be immediately obvious or explicitly stated.
In summary, requirements gathering is the overall process of collecting and organizing the project requirements, while requirements elicitation focuses on extracting specific information from stakeholders. Elicitation is a subset of gathering and is a crucial step to ensure that the collected requirements accurately reflect the needs and expectations of the stakeholders involved in the project.
Tools for Better Elicitation
You will need people skills for this, I would recommend you to have a look to the following books: