Requirements Workshops: Collaborating to Explore User Requirements

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for planning and pre-work, your workshop results are likely to be mediocre.

Finally, don’t use workshops unless you have a facilitator who is neutral to the outcome, experienced with group process, and knowledgeable about the deliverables you need to create in the session. These skills can be developed within your organization and shared across projects.

In lieu of workshops, you can use techniques such as observation, interviews, surveys, prototypes, competitive analysis, and product complaint data. Of course, these techniques can be powerful in combination with workshops, if workshops seem to be a fit for you.

Summing Up
There’s no standard formula for requirements workshops. Each project, business situation, and group of people will combine to make each workshop unique. Preparing for the requirements workshop requires collaboration. It permits you to tap into the collective wisdom of all of the project stakeholders. In your workshops, participants are active, engaged, committed and task-oriented. A well-run workshops builds trust and mutual understand among all the participants. Workshops are not new, but are proven best practices in software development. They can go a long way not only in product delivery, but also in building a “jelled” team.

References
August, Judy H., 1991. Joint Application Design: The Group Session Approach to System Design, Yourdon Press, Prentice Hall.

Doyle, Michael and Strauss, David, 1976. How to Make Meetings Work , New York: The Berkley Publishing Group. Gottesdiener, Ellen, (spring, 2002). Requirements by Collaboration: Workshops for Exploring User Needs , Addison Wesley.

Gottesdiener, Ellen, “Specifying Requirements with a Wall of Wonder”, November 2001, Rational Edge.

Gottesdiener, Ellen, “Collaborate for Quality: Using Collaborative Workshops to Determine Requirements”, Software Testing and Quality Engineering, March/April 2001, Vol. 3. No. 2.

Gottesdiener, Ellen, “Decode Business Needs Now”, Software Development, December 1999, Vol. 7. No. 12.

Jones, Capers, 1996. Patterns of Software Systems Failure and Success, Thomson Computer Press.Wood, Jane, and Denise Silver, 1995. Joint Application Development, Second Edition. John Wiley & Sons.

About the author

Ellen ellensqe's picture Ellen ellensqe

Ellen Gottesdiener, Founder and Principal with EBG Consulting, is an internationally recognized facilitator, coach, trainer, and speaker. She is an expert in Agile product and project management practices, product envisioning and roadmapping, business analysis and requirements, retrospectives, and collaboration.

In addition to co-authoring Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis with Mary Gorman, Ellen is author of two acclaimed books: Requirements by Collaboration and The Software Requirements Memory Jogger.

View articles, Ellen’s tweets and blogfree eNewsletter, and a variety of useful practitioner resources on EBG's website, ebgconsulting.com.

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