How can I best prepare for a requirements workshop?

I've never conducted, let alone arranged, a group meeting. How can I best prepare for a requirements workshop?
If you decide that a requirements workshop is the best option, the next step is to prepare. Adequate preparation is absolutely critical for a successful event. Here are some tips for a well-planned, well-prepared workshop:
  • The best requirements workshops have a clear opening and close and efficient, confident, well-informed facilitation from start to finish.
  • Expect to spend roughly four hours of prep time for every hour of the workshop. For a two-day workshop, plan on a full eight days of prep work, to organize the logistics, prepare and distribute advance materials, and generally get everything in order for a successful event.
  • Be sure to cover the basics for preparing any event: location, date and time, invitations, purpose. Food? Notepads and pens? Water? A printed agenda? Name tags? Etc. Consider the needs of those traveling to the event (even if it's only from a separate building). Will they need directions? Hotel reservations? Parking passes? Should you create a guest list for sign-off at the building's security desk?

Beyond these common factors, plan the actual workshop agenda carefully. Our Requirements Workshop Planning Guideline can help you think through how you'll spend every minute of the workshop. Establish sharply focused, clear objectives and success criteria, and decide on a way to measure them along the way. Use appropriate elicitation and documentation techniques to accomplish your goals for the session. And use the proper tools to capture the requirements as you go.

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