Business Analysis Techniques : Elicitation

by | Jun 21, 2019 | Business Analysis, Uncategorized

Elicitation is the activity of drawing out the information on business needs or problems from stakeholders or other sources in an enterprise. Elicitation and Collaboration is one of the key knowledge areas for Business Analysts as per BABOK® Guide.

An industry research exhibits that many projects and initiatives failed due to “Inaccurate gathering of requirements”. Elicitation is more than requirement gathering or collecting. It is to understand the needs , wants and expectations of stakeholders.  Many stakeholders may not be able to express what they want & what the real problem is. The elicitation process will help to resolve these kinds of issues during the change initiative.

There are several methods available to elicit the information. Each technique has its own merits and demerits. Brainstorming, Collaborative Games, Document Analysis, Workshops, Focus Groups, Interviews, Observation, Prototyping, Surveys and Questionnaires are predominantly used to elicit information to understand the needs, wants and expectations of stakeholders.

Brainstorming

This elicitation technique is used to generate a list of ideas in a short span of time in a group setting environment. This technique fosters innovation and creativity. The first step is to generate ideas and subsequently analysing them to convert into usable form information.

Collaborative Games

This elicitation technique is used to encourage participants and engage them to open up and creative during the session. Some of the stakeholders open up only when they are engaged in a safe and fun situation. Product box is one such game and the participants can be asked to create a product with features, values and benefits.

Document Analysis

This elicitation technique is used to analyse existing the existing documents in any enterprise to gain some understanding of the environment , business processes and situations before directly engaging with the stakeholders. The reference documents should be correct and current in order to facilitate this method.

Workshops

This elicitation technique is widely used to conduct sessions to elicit requirements in a group setting environment by engaging diverse stakeholders. This has to be interactive in nature and good facilitation skills and trained facilitator can help the business analyst and other participants to achieve the goals and objectives of the workshop. We have to prepare , invite participants by roles and conduct the workshop in focused manner to yield better results.

Focus Groups

This elicitation technique is used to collaborate with pre-qualified stakeholders and subject matter experts for eliciting the information. This technique can be used to get the feedback and share ideas on work products or prototypes. A moderator plays an important role in this technique to encourage healthy discussions.

Interviews

This elicitation technique is used to elicit information with an individual or a group by asking prepared or spontaneous questions and documenting the responses. It can be structured                     ( contains list of prepared questions) or unstructured ( questions can be triggered based on the responses). This technique is best suited for discussing sensitive information comfortably and can yield better results than group collaboration techniques. Since it can be done face to face, builds trust and effective engagement with stakeholders involved.

Observation

This elicitation technique is also called job shadowing. Basically, helps to view people and processes to see how the job is being performed. It can be active by interrupting the work and asking questions. It can also be passive without interrupting and just recording the observations. Sometimes a business analyst can also participate in the work to experience it. The observer can also simulate the process to get more information.

Prototyping

This elicitation technique best suited for getting early feedback by providing a limited working model of the work product. Some requirements can be elicited better by showing the model rather than explaining it through words. It can be a throw away prototype or evolutionary prototype. The key element of prototyping here is the iterative process and provides the opportunity to review the product before implementing it.

Surveys and Questionnaires

This elicitation technique provides a written set of queries and most suited if the stakeholders are spread across geography and not collocated. The main advantage is the information from a large group can be collected in a short period in relatively using a cost-effective method. It can be open ended to get the information from the respondents including the feelings, attitudes and understanding or close ended which limits the possible responses by just providing the options to select.

The business analysts should consider their experience & expertise  and assess the situation before selecting any elicitation technique for getting the better results.

Vittal G Panduranga, PMP,CTFL
A PMP®, CBAP®, PMI-PBA® and ISTQB CTFL Certified Professional with over 13 years of experience in the BFSI Sector and having worked in leading organizations. Read More.

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