As a business analyst, you’ve most likely been in this position. You’re in a conference room with about 5 people you know or have worked with before and about 5-10 people you have never met or talked to before…and it’s your responsibility to get them all sharing their knowledge with you and with each other. Nerve wracking isn’t it?
When your focus is eliciting requirements from subject matter experts (SMEs) and end users, there are some things you can do to prepare for the meeting that will help you feel less nervous and be more productive.
Learn what you are discussing. If a current system is being upgraded, learn the current functionality and get familiar with the application.
If a new application is being built to replace a dinosaur, look at what the new application is replacing and get familiar with it.
Make a List, Draw a Picture
You should make a list of any questions that come up while you are reviewing the current functionality and applications.
Include questions you might have about business process, not just questions about how the application behaves.
Add to that list the groups and people involved in the current applications and any additional groups or people you may think will be involved with the new functionality.
As you learn information start creating a current process flow diagram – this will be very helpful to refer to during the requirements session.
That saying “practice makes perfect” holds true for requirements sessions.
You can read your questions out loud to yourself or you can even practice with a good friend, co-worker, etc. See how they sound – do they make sense? Do they come across with an attitude or with genuine interest?
How you say something is more important than what you’re actually saying.
This is a great way to start thinking about what feedback you’ll get so that you can be prepared and ready with a response. This is especially true if you have to ask some questions you already know may cause some tension.
As you lead these requirements sessions, you’ll become more confident, but don’t allow that confidence to keep you from being prepared. Remember that preparation is what got you to that level of confidence and in order to continue doing a great job, you need to always do your prep work.