How do you get your stakeholders to reveal their requirements PDF Print E-mail
So you’re managing a project - you’ve got stakeholders, and they’ve got requirements. Rrrright…

This whole notion of getting your stakeholders to give up their requirements ought to be straight forward. You schedule a meeting with the players, setup the stage and they give you their requirements. Then you wake up, stop dreaming and remember one crucial fact;

Stakeholders are not entirely clear on what their requirements ought to be.

Yep - that’s the problem - ironic really, because that’s the challenge that we all face. The stakeholder knows they have a problem - thus the reason you’re here in the first place - but that problem is tricky. It’s shy, and doesn’t want to share its secrets. Your stakeholder knows they need to fix the problem, and you’re there in front of them, so of course you’re going to solve the problem for them. Yeah, right again.

The quick way to get your stakeholders to reveal their requirements - ask tons of questions. Lots of ‘em. All different kinds of questions. Now this isn’t a one for one process - you will end up asking multiple questions for every good requirement you extract, but it’s effective and the only way I’ve found to ensure that the requirements are truly uncovered.

Here are some questions that you can use to help your customers reveal their requirements:
Can you describe a situation where the problem has surfaced recently in detail?
What specifically about this problem is impacting your process/deliverables?
Are there any time constraints or dependencies that we need to be aware of?
How do you mean? (I use this one quite a bit - when the response to an earlier question is vague or unclear, how do you mean is a great way to dig deeper and get a good requirement)
Why, does this happen every time, can you point to a specific time when this happens? (More digging questions)

This can go on forever, so I’ll spare you the exhaustive list. Anything with who, what, when, where, why and how at the start of the question will allow you to dig with your stakeholders at the problems they are facing, the impacts to their business & process and reveal the requirements to fill the gaps and deliver the project.

Enjoy the interrogation!
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