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How to Prepare for Requirements Sessions with Your Users – Tip 3

We have now discussed the need to organize your time and prepare models in advance of the sessions.

Today we suggest you Prepare Your Elicitation Questions in Advance

One of the key steps to take prior to a stakeholder meeting is to prepare a list of questions to be asked during the meeting. These questions might be created based upon past experiences or recent meetings with the user. If the analysts know the users, the organization, or the types of issues they face, that knowledge should lead to obvious questions. If the analyst has met with the user already, new questions should be created based upon those original meetings, lessons learned and new issues identified. Also, if drafted models exist, those most certainly should prompt questions.

There are some stock questions that you can use as a guide to requirements gathering sessions. Keep in mind, though, each project will need its own unique questions, and some of these questions are likely not appropriate.

How to Identify Actors for Software Requirements

Here are some suggested questions to ask to identify the actors of the system. These questions are in a guide that we’ve design to keep on your desk. Download it here.

  • Who uses the system?
  • Who installs the system?
  • Who trains people to use the system?
  • Who fixes the system?
  • Who starts up the system, who shuts it down?
  • Who maintains the system?
  • Who creates, updates, deletes information in the system?
  • What other systems interface with the system?
  • Who gets information from this system?
  • Who provides information to the system?
  • Does anything happen automatically at a predetermined time?

How to Identify Use Cases

The following suggested questions can be used to identify the list of use cases or system functionality.

  • What functions will the actor want from the system?
  • Does the system store information?
  • Do the actors need to create, update, or delete information?
  • Does the system need to notify an actor about changes in an internal state?
  • Are there any external events the system must know about?
  • What is the actor’s overall job?
  • What problems has the actor had in the past?
  • What steps are manual today?

How to Identify Alternative Courses

In order to identify alternative courses or exception paths, these questions should be asked at every step of a use case main course.

  • Is there some other action that can be chosen?
  • If X does not happen, then what should happen?
  • What if the actor cancels an operation (e.g., closes a window)?
  • What if the actor provides incomplete information?
  • What might go wrong at this step?
  • What if part of the system goes down or is unavailable?
  • Are there any events (or interrupts) that might occur at any time during the use case?

Are you ready for the last part in our series? It’s an oldie, but a goodie!

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