I learned a great deal about eliciting and gathering business requirements at last night’s IIBA meeting (International Institute of Business Analysis). Ellen Gottesdiener presented clear, informative facts with wonderful illustrations and great humor! No mean feat in a webinar.

Ellen outlined the two main paths to obtain requirements – traditional and agile. Regardless of what path we follow, we need to be mindful of team factors (the heart) and product factors (the mind) within a project. And we often make adjustments based on these factors and the path we take. Our requirements and the process to elicit them are based on the shared vision of the product or end result.

Admittedly, my mind wandered to the larger picture. While Ellen was speaking about business requirements, I heard her message as a metaphor for living.

  • Vision. We need to define the what, why, and who we are. What are we creating? Who do we want to be? Why are we doing a certain activity? And, just where are we going? We need a vision statement (or, as Ellen suggests, a visual). If we start with a vision, then we know where we want to go.
  • Traditional path. We research what already exists. Perhaps we interview others to elicit their guidance. We might even participate in small group meetings, such as support groups, to learn from several like-minded people.
  • Agile path. This method is more informal than the traditional path. We create likely (and unlikely) scenarios or rely on stories to outline what we’re trying to do. We use more visual elements, such as pictures, storyboards, or collages.
  • Prioritize requirements. What is the most important piece to accomplish first? Or, are there small tasks that may not be key components, however we can complete those quickly? Are there extraneous activities that we can eliminate?
  • Track status. This can be through informal, using spreadsheets or journals. Or we can document each step and change using a complex system.

What happens if something comes up that threatens to derail us from our vision? Regroup and reprioritize. With a business project, this item may be shelved or placed in a future release of the product. We can do the same thing in our life path.

Let’s say our vision is to land our dream career. Then we have an unplanned, life-changing event. We may choose to shelve our original vision for a time while we regroup. Or, we may choose to keep moving forward with that vision, and ignore the event (unlikely, however that’s a choice). Another option is to work on our vision at a slower pace (that doesn’t work in the business world with tight deadlines, however can work in our personal world!).

They key point is to keep the vision in front of us – preferably with a visual representation.

Do you have a path you’ve used to live your vision? Please share it with us!