Requirements That Overlap Stakeholders

Although overlapping requirements do not get that much fanfare, there is considerable value when a business analyst uncovers a set of requirements that are common to multiple stakeholders. Requirement overlap can lead directly towards a valuable prioritization data point and we know that all requirements are not equal. Think about the downstream benefits when requirements are met by the delivered product. If a requirement is met that has overlapping stakeholders, the value it returns is potentially multiplied by the number of stakeholders in the overlap. 

The Wright family on vacation at the always wonderful Oregon coast!

Workshops are a great way to uncover requirements and some workshop techniques are equally fantastic in discovering overlapping requirements. One of the more popular methods is via the affinity diagram, a method to find commonality it what appears to be a collection of disparate data. Although there are many variations of this workshop technique, my favorite is the sticky note version. 

1. Discuss the goal, problem or opportunity to get everyone on "somewhat" the same page. A PowerPoint presentation is nice for this because you can leave the last slide that has an overview on the screen for people to refer to in the next steps.

2. Depending upon the experience level of your workshop attendees, you may be able to skip this step but I wouldn’t advice it. In this step, you want to discuss the process of what should be written upon their sticky notes. For example, if you are discussing an opportunity in the form of a software product, have each person independently write features they think would be important. 

3. After the sticky note creation process is complete, you want to have those stickies placed upon walls, whiteboards or a poster board. I tend to like those big sheet of paper poster boards and then have the attendees put the stickies grouped upon an individual sheet. That way, you can easily take each grouping with you after the workshop. 

How you have each person put their sticky notes into groupings can change based upon the workshop size and amount of time available. I like it when each person goes one by one and explains why they put each sticky note where they thought it belongs. This helps draw some of the introverts out of their shell and allows the BA to gain stakeholder insights. If you are time constrained, you can certainly have everyone put their notes into the groupings all at once. The idea is to have clusters of notes organized by the attendees. Referring back to our new product example, the final output should be groupings of related features that the new product should include.

4. I tend to call for a break after this step so that people can recharge and so I can take some pictures of the original clusters.

5. Discuss the clusters and reorganize them as needed. This helps refine the groupings and facilitates discussions that help discover new requirements or better define existing ones.

6. Take everything you have gathered, organize it and send out a meeting notes wrap up to all attendees. Make sure they are all in the loop as you leverage the meeting outcome. This helps your overall meeting goals and helps set the stage for additional meetings down the road. 

© 2016 Dwayne Wright