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Eliciting Business Requirements

The crux of “getting it right” on any project is the ability to give stakeholders what they ask for.  Or is it?  Of course, that depends on what they ask for. As consultative project professionals, it’s our job to help align what stakeholders ask for with what the organization needs.  We are tasked with understanding and getting their buy in for what they need, which may or may not be consistent with what they tell us they want. This is no small task even when they all agree!  Reconciling competing stakeholder needs and wants with the organization’s business goals can make the difficult seem all but impossible.


This course helps you develop skills and learn techniques to efficiently and effectively elicit requirements.  From preparing for elicitation sessions to getting consensus, students work through multiple facets of the requirements gathering challenge.  It provides a framework for identifying business problems and linking requirements to business objectives in order to solve business problems and set project scope.  The approach taken is applicable to all types of requirements gathering efforts, including, but not limited to, systems development projects.  Many practical and engaging exercises and role playing help walk participants through the concepts presented, and afford ample practice with the techniques learned.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand what requirements are and why they are critical to success.

  • Understand the business and project context for requirements.

  • Use a systematic process for gathering requirements.

  • Describe and identify key stakeholders for requirements gathering sessions.

  • Use numerous methods of eliciting the right information from your clients in the right situations in order to:

    • Inspire clients to express their expectations as well as their requirements.

    • Help discover hidden requirements.

    • Utilize the right type of question in the right circumstance.

    • Elicit all types of requirements.

  • Develop a detailed plan for conducting an elicitation gathering session.

  • Better handle difficult people situations.

  • Gain consensus on priorities of requirements.

Who should attend

This seminar is designed for business analysts, business people, systems analysts, project managers, and anyone who is involved in the development of any business product, not just software development.


Participants should have worked on the analysis, development, maintenance, or enhancement of at least one business “product,” such as software, business processes, services, etc. 

Format and Material

To help assimilate the tools and techniques learned, there is a mixture of individual and group exercises throughout the course.  A case study and considerable role play help reinforce concepts learned. Students need to be prepared for a high level of participation. Each participant receives a comprehensive student guide complete with examples and workshop solutions.

Duration: 2 Full days or 4 half days

Course Contents

Requirements Essentials

  • Challenges in eliciting stakeholder needs

  • Mental models

  • Definition of a requirement

  • Why are requirements critical to success?

  • Cost of missed requirements

  • The role of eliciting – Business Analysts and Project Managers

  • Distinction between requirements and design

  • Exercise: Requirement or Design?

  • Eliciting exercise

Context for Business Requirements

  • Requirements Layers

  • Context exercise

  • Eliciting requirements within the context of the business need

  • Eliciting requirements within the context of the project

  • Assumptions and Constraints

  • Business rules

  • Workshop: Eliciting to understand business and project contexts

Preparing for Elicitation

  • Elicitation session/meeting challenges

  • Defining session purpose

  • Defining session scope

  • Session roles and responsibilities

  • Elicitation techniques – pros and cons

  • Understanding stakeholders

  • Keeping sessions focused

  • Workshop: Prepare for requirements meeting

Conducting Elicitation

  • Elicit versus interrogate

  • Trust and eliciting

  • Exercise: Good questioning and good listening

  • Game: Open/closed-ended questions

  • Exercise: Convert questions

  • Dangers of “why”

  • Exercise: Convert questions

  • Leading questions

  • Exercise: Convert questions

  • Elicit detailed needs

    • Process needs

    • Information needs

    • Solution needs

  • Practice with role play

Documenting Requirements

  • Concurrent solution modeling

  • How to Leverage Models to Elicit Requirements

  • Business Process Models

    • Workshop: eliciting, documenting, and tracing new requirements

  • Use Case Models

    • Workshop: eliciting, documenting, and tracing new requirements

  • Data Models

    • Workshop: eliciting, documenting, and tracing new requirements

  • Interface Models/Prototypes

    • Workshop: eliciting, documenting, and tracing new requirements

  • Presenting requirements for review

Building Consensus

  • Decision-making styles

  • Group decision-making styles

  • Types of conflict

  • Resolving conflict

  • Handling difficult people situations

  • The BID Model

  • Exercise: Depersonalizing conflict

  • Prioritizing requirements

  • Final role play

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