Posted by tac_admin, January 16, 2013

Go Ahead, Ask Away

00200024496As part of eliciting requirements, the Business Analyst is responsible for posing clear, concise questions and listening for a response.

Once the response is given, the analyst must digest the information and determine if follow up questions are necessary before continuing.

While probing for additional information, the Business Analyst must frame the questions carefully in order to glean the desired information.

When looking for more information for business processes, be sure to include the following questions:

  • Why is it done?
  • What does it involve?
  • Who does it?
  • When is it done?
  • Where is it done?
  • How is it currently done? (There may be more than one way.)
  • How might it be done in the future?
  • What constraints affect the process?

If you want an alternative to “Why?” try using, “For what reason?”

When searching for additional information for business data, the following questions will be helpful:

  • Who uses the data?
  • Where does the data originate?
  • Why do we need this data?
  • What is the data?
  • How is the data defined?
  • What are the constraints on the data?

For example, say you’re gathering information for a Project Training Scheduling Project. The Project Objectives are to increase the number of classes that can be scheduled by the existing number of administration personnel.

In this case, you might ask these questions:

  • Who schedules the training classes?
  • What activities occur to schedule a class?
  • Where is the class scheduling activity performed?
  • When is a class scheduled?
  • Why do you schedule classes?
  • How are classes currently scheduled?
  • How might classes be scheduled in the future?
  • What constraints are there on scheduling classes?
  • Who uses the class scheduling information?
  • What information is needed to schedule a class?
  • What information does scheduling a class generate?
  • Where is the scheduling information generated?
  • Why do we need each piece of information?
  • What is the definition of each piece of data?
  • What are the constraints on the data?

As you collect your information, it may help to ask silly or frivolous questions to broaden discussion and clarification. Put yourself in the position of being “clueless” about the process you’re discussing so that others will correct you and explain the options, the true nature of those options, and why they chose the direction they did.

A variation on the silly question approach is to make debatable statements. Let me give you an example. In your business domain, sox compliancy is an important criterion.

In a requirement planning session you state that you’ve seen little to no information around sox compliancy and testing—knowing that there is a reasonable level. You’re looking for the team to respond with the facts and you’re also looking for realization across the team of any sox compliancy or testing gaps that might still exist.

Learn how to improve your communication skills to move forward in your BA career. Sign up for one of my Laser Coaching session today!

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