Avoid limbo-like situations owing to business analysis and requirements gathering

Ensure requirements, secure details

Every application regardless of scope or size should involve the gathering of requirements from the client, because this is what allows both the client and the IT team to understand exactly what an application will deliver, and avoid the costly downtime of rejecting applications or adding new requirements.

Why? All too often, applications are delivered and then rejected because it wasn't what the client ordered, or the client has changed their mind about what they want halfway through. Even worse, you can receive conflicting requirements from clients, or think you've finished an application, only to receive a new requirement.

Ensuring that your requirement gathering process is as detailed and thorough as possible is the key to success. It involves several steps.

Identify, capture, categorise — critical steps to successful information gathering.

1. Identification

The first step to success is to identify the decision-makers of the project. After that, you need to identify the end-users and their particular needs.

2. Capture requirements

Next, it's essential to find out from the client what their needs are. It can be collected in several ways. You can interview a client. You can research or survey a focus group, or you can send graphical representations back and forth. Types of visual representations include mock-ups, process models and business scenarios.

3. Categorisation of requirements

To make the future analysis easier, all client's requirements should be categorised. It can be technical requirements (where potential technical issues are listed), operational requirements (where necessary background operations for the forward movement of a project are defined), or functional requirements (where clear definitions about the end-user experience are detailed).

4. Recording and interpretation of requirements

Once requirements have been captured and categorised, their understanding and recording are next. Clarify any requirements that seem vague and then prioritise your needs. The impact analysis should then be done, along with the resolution of any issues, followed by a feasibility analysis.

5. Signing off

The final step is to get sign-off from those who you identified in the first step. The sign-off document should contain a statement which dictates that the requirements presented to them reflect their needs precisely. It is a precious document to have on hand, as it can prevent a common occurrence called 'scope creep'.

What is scope creep?

Scope creep what happens when a project grows beyond its initial boundaries. This phenomenon can cause much stress and frustration, not to mention downtime, as it can mean that several newly-added - and therefore secondary - objectives must be met before a project can move forward on its original track.

To sum up
For successful requirement gathering to take place, each step in the process must be given full attention. For example, not placing user needs as a top priority could confuse both sides. The same is true of attempting to solve problems before they've been identified.

The best advice is to take the time to invest in ensuring you receive clear requirements from the client because not doing so can result in a host of problems and much time lost on the development of your application.

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