When was the last time someone asked you what you wanted? Were you able to articulate an answer? It’s a difficult question with lots of layers, assumptions, and possibilities. In my presentation, BI Adoption Roadblocks, earlier this year at the ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects conference, we talked about how inaccurate or continually changing requirements can be a critical roadblock to BI adoption. Fluid requirements usually leads to a project never being finished because you can’t complete a project without a set success criteria or requirements. Or you might consider it complete but the intended audience is not satisfied and has the 2.0 version already on the back burner. Now with requirements gathering hopefully you’ve put some context around the question but it still boils down to the same general idea- “what do you want?”.
So where to begin on improving your requirements gathering process, ask yourself are you talking to the right people. If you take a look at your organization you probably have a mix of information generators, information gathers and information consumers. How often in your requirements process are you getting the opportunity to talk directly with those information consumers? Do you find yourself behind the wall of information gathers who are representing the consumers and “know what they want”? It’s a difficult barrier to break through, but an essential one to demolish in order to be successful. Receiving requirements second-hand usually leads to misinterpretation of the true need and never quite getting it right. Make sure the intended audience or information consumer is a central part of your requirements gathering process. Not only will it cut out the middle man as far as interrupting needs but by incorporating the consumers into the development process earlier, they will have a vested interest in the outcome of your project.
Wishing you the best of luck in your future requirements endeavors and don’t forget to ask yourself:
Who’s the information consumer?