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Tips for Conducting a Service Requirements Gathering Session

written by: Kevin-F • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/31/2011

Conducting a service requirements gathering session is considered to be an important element for the project. The absence of this session may cause the project to drift from the real stakeholder needs, and cause loss of business and reputation.

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    What Is a Gathering Session?

    1131288 meeting better results A gathering session is an essential tool in a project since it facilitates the provision of various techniques to obtain the stakeholder needs and expectations. This information is vital for the development of project scope, and project management plans. Therefore, conducting a service requirements gathering session is necessary in the initial stages so that the plans are created accordingly.

    There are numerous modern techniques for this purpose, such as Joint Application Development, or JAD sessions. JAD sessions conducted by the JAD facilitation team, will be valuable if suitable JAD training and JAD planning is conducted. Brainstorming techniques are also commonly applied in project environments to obtain multiple views for the formulation of project plans.

    An examination of the business requirements gathering case studies will explain the usefulness of this technique. To ensure that a requirements gathering session is successful, it is necessary that a requirements gathering plan is prepared that includes the requirements gathering questions. The JAD facilitation team should have learned how to write goals and objectives for the interviews, brainstorming, and surveys. Numerous techniques are used for the requirements gathering session.

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    Tips for JAD Sessions

    What Are JAD Sessions?

    JAD sessions are basically a facilitated workshop that includes the system analysts and the stakeholders. The requirements and needs are identified in detail. Expert information is gathered and consolidated in a short time, with the difference of views being resolved by JAD facilitation by a facilitator. A forum of subject matter experts is provided for the JAD sessions to determine multiple views that will assist to formulate the project plans.

    JAD Sessions Tips: The following tips are useful for the conduction of JAD sessions:

    • It is necessary that the stakeholders and management is committed for this purpose.
    • The JAD facilitation team should have obtained JAD training to ensure a proper JAD planning.
    • Before the conduct of JAD sessions, the aim, scope, goals, and agenda of this session must be defined, and subsequently efforts must be organized for their achievement.
    • During the conduct of JAD sessions, the agenda should be strictly followed to obtain the desired objectives of gathering and documenting the needs and expectations of the stakeholders.
    • It is essential that all the members are treated equally during the session.
    • The formal documents should be prepared soon after the completion of JAD sessions.
    • The stakeholder vision must be refined, and documented by additional analysis. The conclusions should be communicated to the stakeholders for their appraisal and confirmation.

    Please continue to page 2 for more tips on conducting a service requirements gathering session.

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    Conducting a service requirements gathering session should be held at the initial stages of a project, before defining the scope of the project. The scope is defined by completing the collect requirement phase of the project. Scope definition will not be complete without obtaining information from the stakeholders.
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    Tips for Brainstorming

    What Are Brainstorming Techniques?

    Brainstorming techniques were developed during the 1940s, and are frequently used for conducting a service requirements gathering session to obtain expert opinion. The participants should be arranged into small teams from different backgrounds. After completion of the session, the opinion obtained may be compiled and used to finalize the project management plans. Brainstorming techniques may not be very useful if the stakeholders are small in number, with diverse requirements. The following tips are useful for brainstorming sessions.

    Brainstorming Techniques Tips:

    • Brainstorming should include the preparation of brainstorming lesson plan, and brainstorming exercises on a special brainstorming sheet.
    • Brainstorming sermon preparation is essential by the JAD facilitation team, during which the objectives of the brainstorming session are explained. This will assist the participants to plan for the meeting, and concentrate on the specific topic.
    • The objectives should be precise to ensure positive results of the brainstorming.
    • Individuals with diverse levels of expertise should be invited to obtain multiple ideas.
    • To obtain constructive results, the brainstorming sessions should not be unnecessarily prolonged to obtain the desired opinion.
    • The stakeholders attending the brainstorming sessions should have a common perception of the issues under discussion.
    • The coordinator should create a favorable environment in which the members should feel comfortable to express their view point. The discussion should be allowed to flow smoothly to activate imaginative thoughts.
    • A statement should be created for the session on which the discussions are required.
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    Tips for Interviewing Techniques

    What Are Interviewing Techniques?

    An interview is generally a brief discussion with the stakeholders, to obtain or confirm their needs and requirements. One or more stakeholders may be involved in an interview. The interview can include a session for questions and answers to clarify the objectives. Normally the interviewing techniques are simple, and can be implemented with the least preparation. Effort required for planning and arranging the interviews is minimal for individuals, or a small group. Detailed requirements can be obtained by interviews.

    Techniques may become prolonged, and not very valuable, if the stakeholders concerned with a project are large, and located at distant geographical locations. Answering interview questions by the stakeholders should not be excessively prolonged. The stakeholder identifies the basic needs and expectations. The benefit of this technique is the management control to stimulate the expectations. The following tips are useful for the conduction of interviews:

    Interviewing Techniques Tips:

    • Suitable time should be available to the stakeholders for answering interview questions.
    • The topics discussed, and the decisions or disagreement of the stakeholders during an interview should be recorded, for further analysis.
    • The responses should not be influenced by improper framing of interview questions.
    • Stakeholder divergence and variation in opinion should be resolved by the conduct of multiple interviews.
    • Interview questions must be focused on the objectives to be obtained of the interview.
    • This technique should normally be applied for soliciting requirements from disparate stakeholders in small groups, and may not be very helpful for obtaining information when the stakeholders are large in number.
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    A service requirements gathering session involves collection of project requirements from stakeholders using several techniques, like JAD sessions, interviewing techniques, etc. This process should be completed at the earliest.
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    Tips for Surveying

    What Is Surveying?

    Survey is also used commonly for conducting a service requirements gathering session. This technique involves the use of paper or electronic media to solicit the stakeholder needs or requirements. In this technique, several questions are directed towards the stakeholders to obtain their views regarding the needs, requirements, and expectations. The advantage of survey is that it can be provided to a huge number of stakeholders, and other sources, from where information may be available.

    A survey is considered to be an outstanding tool that is used to obtain huge data, without utilizing a lot of time, and involves minimum scheduling effort. Survey may be more useful for the validation of information obtained through interviewing techniques. However, response to surveys may be low when directed towards a large number of stakeholders. Responses are generally confined to the domain of the questions that may replicate the defined thoughts of the analyst or the survey designer.

    Conducting a service requirements gathering session by the use of surveys may reveal variance in opinion that will need further study. The following tips are useful for the conduction of surveys:

    Surveying Tips:

    • Before the survey questions are developed, it must be decided carefully as to what information is required.
    • Guidance may be obtained in framing the survey questions, from other similar surveys that have been conducted.
    • The survey questions should be framed specifically in accordance with the desired issues.
    • The language used should by simple, as being used by the stakeholders. Jargon should be avoided.
    • Survey questions must be short to ensure easy understanding. The options available may be restricted to facilitate the availability of the desired information.
    • Options like “nil opinion", and “do not know" may be included so that the stakeholders are not forced to provide some opinion, when they may not be equipped to answer.
    • It should be ensured that the questions are not inclined towards a particular answer.
    • The questions must be appropriate for the aim of survey.

    Whichever method you use for conducting your gathering session on service requirements, remember that each method requires a different approach if you are to get the very best out of these sessions.