I don't know where we should take this company, but I do know that if I start with the right people, ask them the right questions, and engage them in vigorous debate, we will find a way to make this company great.
James C. Collins
PMI study reports that 47% of unsuccessful projects fail to meet goals due to poor requirements. Just think about it! Almost every second project is not worth the money spent because we could not explain or pass our expectations correctly through the chain of business management. Shocking, isn't it?
I must admit, to some extent, I feel responsible for those results. I have seen a lot of projects with poorly defined requirements. Some of them went well at the end; the others were either stopped or failed. The only difference between those project was the dialog. The dialog between those, who know how a company works and how the situation evolved and analytical team. So consider this article as my contribution to improving the process.
No road leads to failure, but actions can
My team knows that my motto is - Nobody likes business analysts, but everybody wants results. I wrote this text as my introduction note to one of my first customer, who was wise enough to ask me to explain myself. Apart of regalement, requirements, rules, documentation and every detail, I need to do my job.\
C What do you need to know to start the process?
LR Analyst I need to understand what is the problem, how you want to manage it and why you choose that way. As soon as I see it, I ask you about your plans for the future of the company. Then I will be ready to suggest a solution.
LR today The problem can also be in the process itself or in people who are demotivated or not qualified enough. It can be not about any process or equipment or automation of any kind.
С What do you need from the staff?
LR I need them to understand that I am neither a spy nor a threat. I need them to speak.
С What would you say to them?
Step 1. Introduction
I am an analyst, and I'm here now first to gather your requirements. Exacting is the word that describes the process most.
I start with a greeting but do not finish with "I don't know".
"We do that way", "we work by the book", and "it's as it's done" are not the synonyms. And we all know that. I need to know every of that strategies.
It's all right is a quite exciting emotional comment. And a good start to describe how the process goes in details.
Please, be aware that I only mean to get the answer to my question. I am the person who least interested in ruining your career. We have confidentiality to support that. Even if you think that I ask a stupid question or that it is not connected to the point, please, answer.
"We have agreed" means that you have my confirmation letter. Otherwise, we have not.
Step 2. Frequently asked questions
I have one simple answer to the very common question of " Why don't we do.../ why is it out of scope". The answer is - "It does not help to achieve the objectives."
"Can we add this?" Definitely. It would be more expensive and longer. It can also have no good reason. But we can. The later you ask for additional functional, the riskier and more expensive is the project.
"Make them do it the other way" is not quite my job. If it's within the scope, I can make it uncomfortable or almost impossible to do it the way you don't want. And comfortable to makу it right. But as long as business communication settlement is not in my contract, you should deal with stonewall yourself.
Step 3. Pre-evaluation
"Before we had..." Yes, you did. Please, give me your concerns. What do you feel about it: angry, disappointed, afraid, pissed off?
No, with a probability of 75% you are not stupid or underqualified if you don't understand it. But please, tell me about it. Tell me about every single detail with forms, emails or any other way. Tell me, what you missed or did wrong, or did great. And don't forget to share your ideas. Just shares your experience. It's important.
Have a good day!
If I would do it today, I would say different words and pointed out 5 or 6 points to pay attention to and explained them in 1 or 2 sentences. But I would never change the message because the main failure of the project is the communication gap. Speak to your business analyst. Create free communication space for you team. You'll like it.
When I wrote this post, I asked many people about their experience with analysts and problems in interaction. Most of them said that apart from poor understanding the field of analysis this commitment was quite beneficial though sometimes not applicable to the current situation. The letter that wrote one of my correspondents is quite a remarkable.
So let me quote poor requirements that can start an unsuccessful project for you.
"I hate those guys. They know a little but nothing about me business. They come and say how to improve it. - What exactly do you want it to be? - They ask. I want it to make more money, you, genius. If you cannot calculate where I win, what's the point?
Yes, I automate it because there are too many clients to make it the way we did. But listen, you are there only to help me with the tiny little problem. I don't need you to turn all my business processes upside down. And I don't need new people. Those who work now are all right for me. And I also don't need a consultant who tells them how to work, they are doing just fine already.
Do you need five meetings to get it? Ok, there is how we will do - you receive this letter and go to your team and read it aloud. Five times will do. Then you can come back to me with a solution.
Now listen carefully. My problem is just to find that client information quick and easy. And I don't give a damn how it occurs in your system as long as all the details are there, and it is up to date. That is your problem, not my people or my business processes. Got it? Go ahead, bring me a solution.
If you're so smart to give me recommendations ensuring that I need this solution, why I do feel a catch. Why your arguments makes me think that you want to sell a solution, not to solve my problem."