For those who are new to the idea of using models for requirements elicitation and analysis, it’s a common misconception to think: “I don’t have time to create models.” There’s no question that visual models are effective; but, contrary to what you may believe, they should save time, not cost time. How do visual requirements save time, you may ask? Well, keep on reading to learn the seven reasons visual requirements models save time and increase project success.
Validation of Project Scope
How many times have you been on a project where it wasn’t clear what everyone expected to get out of the project or which systems had been impacted? Even worse are scenarios in which there are disagreements about the data in play or the process being supported. That’s why early alignment is crucial to the timeliness and success of a project. The bounding models help you validate your project scope from the beginning. At a very high level, visual models can help you define:
- Reasons you’re doing what you’re doing (Business Objectives Model)
- All systems impacted (Ecosystem)
- Data you’re working with (Business Data Diagram)
- Processes you’re supporting (L1 Process Flow)
When a project’s scope is out of alignment, a lot of time can be wasted on out-of-scope items.
More Efficient Elicitation Sessions
Similar to validating the scope of a project, elicitation sessions can often lead to discussions that are unclear or go astray. Visual models, such as “straw man” or draft proposals, can be used. These working models are merely rough sketches rather than the end-all-be-all. They are meant to be knocked down, criticized, improved, tested and refined until a final model is reached and approved. These types of models help to increase the project focus as well as the quality of the feedback. In turn, project team members are less likely to be at cross-purposes and discussions are more on-point. Without a straw man approach to problem-solving, teams often end up stuck in the brainstorming phase.
Earlier Questions and Gaps Exposure
Elicitation sessions without visual requirements models leave you open to all sorts of problems related to those already mentioned. Time and time again, those who model the outcome of elicitation sessions uncover additional questions. That’s exactly why requirements models are also referred to as analysis models. They help you conduct an analysis, identify gaps and fill in the holes quickly. Even with project scope that seems clear and adequately discussed, it’s nearly impossible to identify early gaps and questions without using visual models.
Higher Level Validation Before Moving Deeper
Most of the time it does not take very long to fix a flawed model. Activities such as fixing stories, acceptance criteria, or requirements in other forms typically take longer. It is critical to validate your models before documenting your requirements to minimize time spent correcting them. This is even more important when you are working with complex concepts—modeling them helps everyone (including you!) understand and validate them efficiently. When you validate your models before tackling longer tasks such as stories, requirements, or acceptance criteria, you minimize the changes you would otherwise have to make.
Better Understanding of Requirements
Visual models help to provide context for requirements especially for multi-system projects. Perhaps you’re a business partner who reviews models just to ensure the project is on track while leaving the details to IT. Or, you’re one who likes to use the models as a means of pulling the requirements together into the big picture. Simply put, providing people with visual explanations forces them to understand concepts and approaches better. If business data diagrams, decision tables and other models aren’t used, most won’t understand how everything fits together and you become prone to errors due to miscommunication.
Quicker Resolution of Requirements Issues
When you have all your project requirements ducks lined up in a row, that doesn’t mean that issues won’t rear their ugly heads. Issues can often be expected during the development and testing phase. Sometimes the biggest challenge is simply knowing and understanding exactly what the issue is in the first place. It could be anything from a data transformation issue to systems process issue. Models provide the context that allows for discussing the issues more efficiently and resolving them more quickly. How the issues are handled can make or a break the forward movement on a project and its ultimate success.
Baseline Evolution of Product
Very few products are one and done or have teams that never change. As you enhance your product, the models form the baseline for “what does it do now.” As you change team members, the models allow new team members to quickly understand the product. Without these models as a baseline, you’ll find that more time is spent on trying to move forward on enhancements and explain everything to new teams.
As with many things, a great way to be more efficient is to avoid doing unnecessary things and identify problems early on. That’s where visual models come into play. In the long run, issues become easier and faster to fix, not longer. If a huge lightbulb went off in your head while reading this and you need help get started, then browse through the requirements training options that we offer.