The requirements workshops are more organized and structured than a brainstorming session where the involved parties get together to document requirements.
- Discovering requirements
- Refining requirements
- Prioritizing requirements
- Scoping requirements
A workshop is effective by facilitator’s role and where the participants are highly involved
BEFORE THE WORKSHOP
Homework – gather as much background information on the project as possible.
- Workshop facilitator? Need to have sufficient insight on the project/business area to engage actively with the stakeholders and ask the relevant questions.
Plan, plan, plan – draw up a plan for the workshop – identifying all the activities that need to be completed before the day of the workshop.
- A mini-project plan or checklist will help keep track of the progress and ensure that all preparation activities are completed on time.
- Interaction – the level of requirements determines the type of tasks and materials to prepare for the participants.
Begin with the end in mind – The objectives of the workshop must be clearly identified and articulated. The objectives will determine the scope of the questions and discussions participants will engage in.
- Ask yourself: What outputs do I expect to have after the workshop? Once your objectives are defined, ensure that all participants know exactly what these objectives are so that they are guided by them. The objectives should also serve as the basis for drawing up your workshop agenda.
What’s in the agenda? – The main topics or issues that will be covered during the workshop.
- Send the agenda before the workshop
- Consider the different learning styles – Participants may be visual, tactile or auditory learners.
Timing – The time of day chosen to hold the workshop is just as important as the duration of the workshop.
- People tend to be more attentive in the early hours of the morning than the early afternoon. In addition, avoid organising workshops immediately before or after mealtimes.
- Workshops should also not be scheduled to hold for too long so that participants do not lose concentration and enthusiasm. Instead of scheduling a workshop for an entire day, consider spreading it over 2 or 3 days.
Get the right stakeholder mix – A necessary pre-requisite to hosting a successful workshop is having all your stakeholders mapped out. The mix of stakeholders invited has a direct impact on workshop objectives
- Select the stakeholders wisely so that the needs of all users are equally represented, and from different backgrounds,
- include Subject Matter Experts who are well versed in the specific matters your workshop will address.
- Beware of assembling large groups of stakeholders; consensus may become difficult to achieve.
The Environment matters too – Select a venue and make sure it’s suited to the number of participants you’re expecting. If the venue is outside your office environment, it should have all the supporting materials you need: whiteboards, flip chart, markers and so on.
Ensure your stakeholders are prepared – Give stakeholders enough notice so that they can prepare. Also, send them sufficient information before the day so that they can read the materials and prepare to contribute.
DURING THE WORKSHOP
Be an Early Bird – Arrive at the venue early enough so that you can prepare and set up all your supporting materials.
Get participant relaxed – Create an environment where stakeholders are not inhibited in any way.
- acknowledge comments from participants;
- assisting introverted participantsby encouraging them to speak out; and
- desisting from evaluating people’s opinions.
- Listen, empathize and engage.
Stick to the plan – Be guided by the objectives of your workshop. Ensure that the objectives are clearly written out for stakeholders to see so that only discussions along these lines are considered.
Use Visual Aids – Use diagrams, mock-ups or wireframes to present your initial understanding of requirements.
- Help to kick-start productive dialogue among stakeholders and clarify ambiguous requirements.
Use the Parking Lot – issues that can be “parked” for a later time.
Employ a Scribe – take down the minutes of the workshop will prove to be extremely useful, practical and time-saving.
Resolve Issues – The workshop is a great platform for identifying conflicting requirements. Point out areas of ambiguity and conflicting priorities for discussion to clarify stakeholder requirements.
AFTER THE WORKSHOP
Document, Communicate and Validate – The results of the workshop may serve as the basis for preparing the requirements package for subsequent validation with stakeholders
Follow-up – Any action items identified during the workshop session should be tracked until completion.