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How to Select Software Requirements Training (It’s not just about the BABOK)

So it’s time for your organization to select requirements training for your business analysts, product managers, project managers, even developers. Here are some suggestions on what to look for!

The obvious things to look for:

  • Course Agenda – make sure the agenda is published and the topics seem relevant to your group. For example, if you do not use RUP, do not select a RUP-based class. If your team is good at the basics, consider a more advanced class, for example focusing on elicitation.
  • Training Costs – these are relatively consistent across courses, but typically you can expect to pay anywhere from 600-1500 per day per student.
  • Time Commitment – make sure you sign up for a course you are willing to commit to. Typically industry courses are run in full or half day increments. Make sure your people know it’s a priority to attend once you’ve signed up. Also, I prefer courses that are done in smaller increments, for example a series of 4 classes at 2 hours each, because the students can take time to think about and practice the concepts between classes. This resembles the teaching method used in universities, but it is very hard to find in industry.

The less obvious but more important:

  • An Engaging Experience – the materials used during course must be engaging, as to not bore the students to sleep. As a rule of thumb, most learning happens in practice not lecture, so look for a course that has at least 50% of the time doing practice exercises.
  • Competent Instructors – be sure that the instructors will be interesting to listen to. This may be tough to evaluate, but you could try calling them ahead of time. In addition, they need to be credible. My personal favorite is to find instructors who are also practitioners, having actually done the thing they are teaching. They will use more real-life stories in their teaching, which help put the lecture in context.
  • Your Expectations – Be realistic yourself about what you will get out of the training and what you won’t. Referring back to the Kirkpatrick model, most training only measures levels 1 and 2, satisfaction and immediate recall of the material respectively. If you are looking for level 3 and 4, behavior change and impact to the organization, then recognize that most training alone will not give you those, and certainly is not likely to measure that they did happen. Typically mentoring in addition to or instead of training will help you get to level 3 and 4 in the organization.

Sadly, I have seen disappointed students coming out of all kinds of training experiences, and typically it is because their expectations were wrong going in.

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