As a Business Analyst and facilitator, your job is to function as a liaison between the client's current business needs and their improved future business solutions. Understanding the client's current pain points and having the ability to elicit their processes, requirements, functional needs, and specifications is key to providing robust and comprehensive recommendations for their solution.
Often, when facilitating requirements elicitation, an Analyst faces challenges such as:
- Client misunderstanding of the solution options you can provide.
- Resistance to change.
- Too many cooks in the kitchen (client’s stakeholders’ disparate views of a future state).
- Varying stakeholder personalities and interactive tendencies.
Below are suggestions on how to manage these common occurrences as an Analyst when eliciting requirements, specifications, and business needs from a client... and... 'How to work the room" to achieve success.
Know the Client.
While your goal is to learn about the client's needs during elicitation and help steer them in the right direction, it is important to have as much background information as possible prior to your elicitation sessions.
- Know where the business is coming from.
- Know where the business is headed to.
- Spend time on the client’s website, LinkedIn pages, or industry periodicals to learn as much about the client as you can.
- Identify key stakeholders and their level of interest vs involvement.
- Structure and focus your game plan around eliciting the key decision makers (while still engaging all stakeholders).
The more you know about your client's business prior to eliciting requirements, the easier and more productive their engagement will be.
Know your 'Stuff'.
Understanding upfront how your solutions can benefit the client and their business will make for a much more dynamic and fluid experience when 'getting into the weeds' with the client during elicitation sessions.
- Know what applications you plan to recommend/use for the client when working towards identifying their solution.
- Know the integration of the applications that may or will be used for solutioning to increase client buy-in during elicitation.
- Prepare high-level scenarios to share as exhibits or demonstrations for the client during elicitation sessions to provide clarity and better understanding of future state options.
*Remember: You are the expert when it comes to the solutions you provide. Be sure your client knows that by demonstrating your knowledge.
Having a clear direction and understanding of what you can offer the client's needs when going into elicitation will create a more efficient, effective, and collaborative experience for all involved.
Break the Ice and Engage.
Resistance to change is common among stakeholders despite the fact they are looking for your help to improve their business efficiency and effectiveness. Possessing the ability to work conversations and personalities during elicitation into a positive and productive outcome is key.
- Be personable. Do not be afraid to share something personal about yourself as it relates to their day-to-day activities if it stays within relevancy to the overall topic. (ex. You are integrating a Bank to start utilizing Microsoft Teams. If you used to work at a Bank, share that experience briefly). -Engage the client positively and directly when gathering requirements.
- Be willing to change tactics if a conversation gets off track. Ask if the current direction of the topic is integral to the future success of the solution.
- Try to find a common thread with the stakeholders from whom you are eliciting requirements. Being able to relate with them on a personal or professional level is advantageous to creating trust and belief in the process you are walking them through.
- Be honest. If the client asks questions that you are unable to answer, tell them you will get the answer for them and keep moving forward.
- Parking lot. If a topic requires deeper discussion and is taking away from the overall goals of that elicitation session, note it as identified for a future session, and keep moving forward.
- Provide a brief synopsis of results and next steps at the end of each elicitation. This will reinforce accomplishments achieved with the client and provide them with a positive forward outlook to the next session.
Direct and personable engagement and interaction with stakeholders during elicitation will create a more efficient working environment.
Being able to work a room in an efficient and effective way as a facilitator brings value to all parties involved. Creating a positive and proactive atmosphere through personable and knowledgeable interaction during requirements elicitation will provide quality outcomes and dynamic solutions.