Requirements Workshop Planning Guide

Quick Summary
Screenshot Detailed tips and a step-by-step guide to planning a requirements workshop designed to elicit and understand a specific set of requirements. Includes extensive suggestions on planning and conducting the workshop and post-meeting follow-up, along with a sample agenda and general meeting facilitation tips.

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What this is

A requirements workshop is a focused session, usually lasting from a couple of hours to a couple of days, during which a set of stakeholders or subject matter experts are assembled to help elicit and understand a specific set of requirements. Traditionally, the Business Analyst (or a project manager acting in that capacity) conducts requirements workshops during the planning or early execution phases of a project to help elicit detailed requirements. Requirements workshops may also occur later in the project lifecycle to help identify and solve problems, prioritize requirements, and evaluate solutions. This planning guide will help you plan for the key components needed to run a successful requirements workshop.

Why it's useful

A requirements workshop requires planning and preparation, along with good meeting facilitation skills. The most successful requirements workshops are well planned: they include clear and deliberate opening and closing activities; they include carefully selected exercises, discussions, and activities to elicit and model the requirements; and they are facilitated with the right balance of flexibility and diligence. This guide provides tips to help you think through these important aspects of a requirements workshop.

How to use it

  1. Clarify the requirement area and scope for the workshop. A good place to start is with the project scope and objectives, or the problem statement that lead to the project's initiation if one exists. Begin by drafting a list of the information you think you need to collect. Then seek input from the project manager, sponsor, or business lead to make sure that the purpose of the requirements workshop is clear and agreed upon. What are you trying to accomplish by bringing the participants together into a workshop? How will you know the workshop has been successful?
  2. Identify which stakeholders need to participate in the discussion. Once the purpose is clear, review the business processes or functions related to the workshop focus area, and review the Stakeholder Analysis to see who represents those areas. Consult with those stakeholders, the project manager, and the sponsor for input on additional candidates to participate in the workshop.

    Determine whether or not it is feasible to gather this group together all at one time for a workshop. Requirements collaboration can also be done online or through various electronic collaboration tools, so if a face-to-face workshop is impractical for some reason, there are other options. A virtual meeting may be the right approach in some situations. Consider the use of videoconferencing if it is available and economical, but be prudent; is the added cost necessary?
  3. Decide when the workshop will be held. Reserve time on the participants' calendars with as much notice as possible. If you're not sure exactly how much time to plan for, block a little more than you think you will need. You can free up any excess time as soon as you have a firm agenda.
  4. Set the stage and expectations. Use the pre-workshop checklist on page 2 to help you organize and complete the workshop planning and preparation activities. Distribute the agenda and any pre-workshop preparation material at least a week ahead of the meeting, allowing ample time for review.
  5. Conduct the workshop. Use the workshop conduct checklist on page 5 for guidance on conducting the meeting. Remember to thank your participants for sharing their time and knowledge, both as you begin and at the conclusion of the workshop. Reiterate any key findings or points captured during the meeting, and distribute a summary to all participants as a means to seek clarity and feedback on the requirements details you captured.
  6. Follow-up on workshop tasks and requirements, to generate final deliverables. After the workshop, review and summarize your notes with the facilitation team (see page 7) and send them to your workshop participants for review. Incorporate any feedback you receive into the final requirements deliverables you generate based on the workshop output.

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