I’ve learned that there are Three main phases to getting Stakeholder’s requirements and picked up a few tricks along the way to help move these phases along.
Phase 1: Waiting for the Stakeholders
Sometimes, you have to wait days, weeks, even months to just get the time to sit with them. This is where I try to get a head start. As soon as we are a go on the project, I start reaching out to the stakeholders. Sometimes maybe even before the project team. Get them to commit to dates and times and send reminders as needed. Your Stakeholders are busy people; they have full time day jobs that come first. You need to give them as much advanced notice as possible. Giving them a lot of advanced notice also allows for you to help them be prepared for the meetings. Send them brainstorming topics, examples of information you will be covering, create an agenda to help them be prepared for each session.
Phase 2: Initial Requirements Gathering Session
Hold a session(s) to gather high-level requirements. Gather everything at the highest level. This is important because most of the time, the Stakeholders only really know their high-level needs, and may know a little more of the specifics but typically need some guidance defining them. That part will come next. Take down all those high-level notes, and then sit with the project team, and go through each high-level requirement and break down what additional information you will need for each one, with specific questions that will need to be asked.
Phase 3: Requirements Specifications:
Hold another session(s) to review each high-level requirement, and then ask your questions you cam up with to get the Stakeholders to give you the detail you need. They typically require some coaching and guidance on the details and that’s why it’s important to first understand the high-level so that you can help break it down for them so they can give you the specifics. Sometimes they may not have those details right then and there and may need to consult with others, take note of those and schedule a follow date/time to review. Take detailed notes, and then organize them into a requirements document that each stakeholder needs to sign off on.
Approaching these requirements sessions with the Stakeholders in phases has seemed to work the best for me. Throwing everything at them at once, typically just makes the already difficult process even more difficult.
-Krystina Hodge, Consultant & Project Manager