Don’t know what to ask? Here’s a resource of over 700 questions

I’ve focused on the importance of asking questions, and for a very good reason. Effective stakeholder engagement and elicitation is the business analyst’s bread and butter. It’s so important that Laura Brandenburg (CBAP) came up with over 700 questions in her Requirements Discovery Checklist Pack.

In fact, if you were to ask me what I think are the most important skills of a business analyst, my answer would include:

“The ability to apply the correct approach to elicitation in any given situation.”

This includes planning your communication activities and your questions in formal settings such as workshops and interviews.

To do this, it’s important to understand the “scope” of your audience so you know what level to pitch your questions. For instance, in a meeting with senior managers and key decision makers, asking detailed questions about how a certain procedure is performed is not good use of time. It’s a wasted opportunity to understand the important drivers and risks that provide context and direction for your work. And your audience will likely lose interest very quickly.

The reverse applies to stakeholders that spend their working day carrying out operational tasks. The line of questioning would involve the “what, how, when, who, where and why” of the tasks, activities, processes and procedures that they perform. I would not, for instance, ask them questions about the organisation’s broader strategic initiatives. It is also not good use of your stakeholders’ time.

Regardless of methodology, elicitation is just a conversation. The more you relate to the mind set and main preoccupation of your stakeholders, the more successful that conversation is.  And as a result, you’ll write requirements that translate into a solution that’s solidly aligned to their needs.

Then you’re a winner!

So if you want to get outstanding results from your stakeholder engagement activities, I strongly urge you to check out the Requirements Discovery Checklist Pack. This is a resource of 700 questions categorised and cross-referenced into 18 checklists that covers core business process areas and software features.

It’s not just a list of questions. It gives you the guidance you need to get the most out of your elicitation efforts so you can produce clear and complete requirements.

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