ThinkTank® Requirements Workshops: Can it really be fast & fun?
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ThinkTank® Requirements Workshops: Can it really be fast & fun?


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ThinkTank® Requirements Workshops: Can it really be fast & fun?



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ThinkTank®Requirements Workshops: Canitreallybefast&fun?
Copyright 2007 GroupSystems Corporation.All rights protected and reserved.
Requirements Gathering
“Analystsreportthatasmanyas71%ofsoftwareprojectsfailbecauseofpoorsoftwarerequirements."CIOMagazine.“UsingGroupSystemsallowedustorapidlyvalidatethedirectionourapplicationwastaking,andgatherhardrequirementsfromusersinaminimalamountoftime.Aweeklongmeetingwouldhavebeenneededtoaccomplishwhatwedidin8hours.“IBMProposalSupportManagerata1dayRequirementsGatheringSession“Wearemonthsaheadofwherewewerejusttwodaysago,”SAIC.The ThinkTank® advantage for Requirements Workshops IncreaseManagement commits appropriate participants because involvement is Participation limited More stakeholders can effectively participate in the same workshop Virtual participants stay engaged because they see and add to all requirements/ideas/comments in REAL TIME It’s FUN! Gain Buy-inParticipants get full opportunity to express their needs. Reports reflect stakeholder input – verbatim Prioritization process enables “organization-wide” perspective IncreaseSupplement discussion with simultaneous entry of requirements by all Efficiency stakeholders Workshops get completed in days, not months Automatically generated requirements specification in Word, Excel or HTML Easy export to Project or Requirements Management tools Reduce travel for virtual participants Reflect realOption for anonymous input enables frank discussion of sensitive topics prioritiesParticipants rank requirements on a scale from "must have" to "nice to have" Project team ranks requirements on effort, feasibility Requirements management is the art and science of gathering and managing user, business, technical, functional, and process requirements within a product development project. The project could be for a new consumer product, a web site, a system or a software application. It’s an extremely complex task. Project leads must balance the different perspectives of multiple stakeholders and overcome the leading causes of project failures: incomplete requirements, lack of user input, and changing requirements. Tools for Managing, Not Collecting Requirements There are tools for managing requirements; such as IBM Requisite Pro, DOORS, Rally Software, and GatherSpace, but none of these products help elicit requirements from stakeholders. For that, several methodologies have been developed over the years attempting to optimize requirements gathering: Participatory Design, Rapid Application Design, Requirements Engineering, and Rational Unified Process to name a few. The common thread among these techniques, and where most of the benefits are derived is simply by 1) getting disparate stakeholders talking, 2) fostering user and developer communication; 3) recording what was decided.
Requirements Gathering
Requirements Workshop Pains Where these techniques suffer is that they are slow and tedious. It’s not unusual for 50% of a project timeline to be spent completing requirements gathering. Typically, the process involves a combination of stakeholder interviews, joint requirements workshops, prototypes and documentation review sessions. Unfortunately, none of these methods are without their issues. If the project team embarks on a series of individual interviews, then the team has to resolve conflicting directions and the stakeholders get less opportunity to understand alternative viewpoints. In that case, consensus is hard to achieve. When the stakeholders are brought together for requirements workshops, the meetings tend to be long and painful. Sometimes, key stakeholders don’t participate because they’re unwilling to make a big time commitment. During the sessions, it’s not unusual for a few stakeholders to control the proceedings. Less dominant personalities, or those of lower rank, may have a hard time being heard. There may be a reluctance to challenge conventional wisdom on sensitive subjects. As the group increases in size, the inefficiency of the meeting increases exponentially. More people have to wait for their opportunity to share their needs. Whether requirements are voiced in interviews or workshops, the project team has the task of transcribing all requirements, hoping all the while that no key concepts were lost. Usually several days later, the requirements document must be returned to the stakeholders for review. ThinkTank requirements workshops address these issues. The meetings are shorter, produce more thoroughly documented requirements, include more stakeholders, and achieve greater consensus about priorities. Here’s how: Identify the Requirements With the pre-defined ThinkTank requirements workshop process template, participants start by reviewing and agreeing on the scope and business objectives of the project. Stakeholders directly enter all of their own requirements. ThinkTank’s real-time, simultaneous idea submission greatly accelerates the process and supplements the ongoing discussions. Stakeholders know they’ve been heard and nothing has been lost in translation by the project team. ThinkTank’s ability to collect ideas anonymously helps ensure complete openness. And since ThinkTank is a Web 2.0 application, even virtual participants can be fully engaged, and not at a disadvantage like they are with audio or web conferencing alone.
Requirements Gathering
Clean Up the Requirements ThinkTank participants are frequently amazed at the quantity of requirements generated in a short period. If redundant or unclear requirements make it onto the list, ThinkTank provides capabilities to clean up the list. The leader can easily add logical categories or buckets to group the requirements together. Then, participants can be requested to drag and drop the requirements into the categories. It’s often useful, as well, to assign a breakout team of users and developers to review an assigned category to further reduce redundancy and summarize key ideas. Prioritize the Requirements Even after the list of requirements is consolidated, it’s not unusual to generate far more ideas than can be addressed in the time or budget allowed for the project. Therefore, the stakeholders need to prioritize where resources are expended. ThinkTank provides simple voting tools to capture stakeholder opinions. The leader might call for a quick vote on the requirements against three criteria: 1) importance; 2) time to implement; and 3) feasibility. Another option is to have business users evaluate “importance” while the project team evaluates “time to implement” and “feasibility.” There may be differences of opinion between the participants; these will be clearly highlighted with the consensus measures in ThinkTank. Collaboratively Develop Next Steps The typical project manager works in isolation to develop the list of tasks to include on a project plan. Then, a few rounds of email later, collects the changes to the project plan. ThinkTank’s Action Planner lets the group collaboratively enter tasks in real time, assign dates, deliverables, and owners. A click of a button enables the whole plan to be exported to Microsoft Project. ThinkTank is not meant to replace existing project management software, but there is not better way to collect action steps. Automatically Generate the Requirements Document A typical requirements workshop usually runs a half to a full day. The full record of the sessions, with all the requirements and comments that have been entered is automatically produced by ThinkTank in Microsoft Word, Excel or HTML formats. Stakeholders love to receive the fully documented proceedings, with all of their ideas captured verbatim, immediately after the workshops. Project teams love to avoid the late night sessions transcribing scribbles from flip charts and whiteboards! What’s more, the requirements can also be easily exported into requirements management tools such as IBM Requisite Pro, DOORS, Rally Software and GatherSpace. In short, ThinkTank requirements workshops take less time, produce better documented requirements, include more stakeholders, and achieve greater consensus about priorities. Ask how you can get more information on ThinkTank Requirements Workshop template and get started today.