How to gather business requirements to ensure proper adoption of new technology
In our last discussion we reviewed why business requirements are so important and the difference between business and functional requirements. Of most importance, is how to gather requirements to ensure that the needs of the organization will be met or exceeded with any initiative.
Often in a rush to complete the exercise of what the business actually needs, the gathering of business requirements becomes a project completed by a solo individual when in all reality the best practice approach to gathering requirements is to follow a variety of methods.
Let’s look at an example of an organization looking to purchase a new HRMS to replace old technology and systems. As discussed previously, in order to identify what the system needs to do to meet the needs, the business requirements will need to be established in advance. The process of gathering requirements is extensive and can include surveys, focus groups, brainstorming sessions and personal interviews:
- Surveys – a questionnaire is distributed among key stakeholders in HR and other HR dependent departments
- Focus Groups – a meeting to qualitatively interview key stakeholders in one or two sessions to determine their business and functional requirements
- Brainstorming sessions – a series of key stakeholders are invited to a series of sessions to probe business requirements, while documenting processes. Brainstorming sessions are an excellent way to review current processes and identify new ways to refine existing processes prior to the implantation of a new system
- Personal interviews – meeting with key stakeholders one at a time to discuss their business requirements specifically pertaining to their use
What I generally suggest is to use personal interviews initially and then hold a brainstorming session once all individual requirements have been identified to ensure that all possible needs have been considered and then to rank and weigh them in accordance with importance. This can greatly influence the RFP process in terms of what is essential to meet the needs of the business and narrow the scope of any implementation. Any functional requirements that the technology is required to have should ALWAYS be tied back to a business requirement. For example, the system needs to manage the recruitment process online (functional) to decrease the response times to candidates from the HR department by 25% as a means to attract the best possible talent (business).
Remember, the more input you include from your key stakeholders regarding their needs, the greater the chances for the technology choice being adopted and accepted by staff. After all, if your stakeholders are part of the process, they will own it as much as you do.