In any organization, every new product or service is created in response to a business need. However, despite spending tremendous time and resources on development, there can be a mismatch between the required product and the final product. Hence, there is a need for a focused and detailed requirements analysis in the early stages of any project to avoid major problems in the future.
What is Requirements Analysis?
Requirements analysis or requirements engineering is a process used to determine the needs and expectations of a new product. It involves frequent communication with the stakeholders and end-users of the product to define expectations, resolve conflicts, and document all the key requirements.
One of the greatest challenges faced by any organization is to share the vision of the final product with the customers. Hence, a business requirements analysis involves a team effort of all the key stakeholders, software developers, end-users, and customer managers to achieve a shared understanding of what the product should do. This is always done in the early phase of any project to ensure that the final product conforms to all the requirements.
Requirements Analysis Process
A requirements analysis process involves the following steps:
Step 1: Identify Key Stakeholders and End-Users
The first step of the requirements analysis process is to identify key stakeholders who are the main sponsors of the project. They will have the final say on what should be included in the scope of the project.
Next, identify the end-users of the product. Since the product is intended to satisfy their needs, their inputs are equally important.
Step 2: Capture Requirements
Ask each of the stakeholders and end-users their requirements for the new product. Here are some requirements analysis techniques that you can use to capture requirements:
1. Hold One-On-One Interviews
Interview each stakeholder and end-user individually. This technique will help you gather specific requirements.
2. Use Focus Groups
Conduct group interviews or group workshops to understand the flow of information between different stakeholders and end-users. This technique will ensure that there will be no conflict of interest later on during the project.
3. Utilize Use Cases
Use cases provide a walkthrough of the entire product through the eyes of the end-user. This technique will help visualize how the product will actually work.
4. Build Prototypes
A prototype provides users a sample look and feel of the final product. This technique will help address feasibility issues and identify problems ahead of time.
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Step 3: Categorize Requirements
Since requirements can be of various types, they should be grouped to avoid confusion. Requirements are usually divided into four categories:
- Functional Requirements: Functions the product is required to perform.
- Technical Requirements: Technical issues to be considered for the successful implementation of the product.
- Transitional Requirements: Steps required to implement a new product smoothly.
- Operational Requirements: Operations to be carried out in the backend for proper functioning of the product.
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Step 4: Interpret and Record Requirements
Once the requirements are categorized, determine which requirements are actually achievable and document each one of them. Here are some techniques to analyze and interpret requirements:
Define Requirements Precisely
Ensure that the requirements are clearly worded, sufficiently detailed, and related to business needs.
Prioritize requirements and list them out based on which ones are the “most critical” and which ones are just “nice-to-have”.
Carry Out an Impact Analysis
Carry out an impact analysis to make sure that you fully understand the consequences of the requirements.
Arrange a meeting with key stakeholders and resolve conflicting requirements. You can also perform a scenario analysis to explore how the requirements would work for different possible scenarios.
Perform a detailed analysis of the product based on the requirements gathered to determine its reliability and to identify any major problems.
Once all the requirements are analyzed, create a detailed written document and circulate it among the key stakeholders, end-users and development teams.
Step 5: Sign off
Once a final decision is made on the requirements, ensure that you get a signed agreement from the key stakeholders. This is done to ensure that there are no changes or uncontrolled growth in the scope of the project.
Various Steps of Requirement Analysis
1. Draw the Context Diagram
The purpose of drawing a context diagram is to find out how to design a new system within an organization or how to modify it. Context diagram defines how external elements impact the internal system of an organization. They are complex diagrams that draw the system analysis simply yet crisply. The arrows indicate the date-flow between the external elements and the internal system. For example, the following diagram shows how different elements move within the hotel reservation system.
2. Development of a Prototype (Optional)
Prototype development is an important part of a product launch as this helps the organization find out the specific requirements of customers. Based on the customers' response, the prototype is modified until it achieves maximum customer satisfaction. The prototype allows the client to imagine the system to be built and to understand the customer's requirements. If the developers and end users still need to catch up on some aspects of the system, the prototype or the replica of the product helps them to finalize those elements.
Those products that are developed for the general masses should get a glimpse of the prototype. Then, it should be shown to a selected section of potential buyers. This will help to create a product more attractive than before.
The prototype is usually created faster and at an affordable cost. However, it always comes with some limitations and is not accepted in the final analysis.
3. Model the Requirements
This stage involves creating requirement models which ultimately allow customers and stakeholders to imagine the product in the making. Various functions, data tables, external elements, and their relation to each other are represented in graphical forms. A graphical viewing of these things assists in finding flaws in the requirements. It allows the developers to see if there are any inconsistencies, missing, wrong, or unnecessary elements added to the system. Such requirement models can be divided into the following categories.
- Data Flow diagram: A graphical preparation using symbols and notations to show how a business operates through data movement.
- Entity-Relationship diagram: A flowchart describing how things like people, a concept, or an object are related within a system.
- Data Dictionaries: These contain different definitions, names, and other forms of data elements utilized within the project.
- State-transition diagrams: They represent the changes that take place within the system
4. Finalize the Requirements
Requirement models will add to the understanding of the system. All the necessary corrections are done at this stage. All ambiguities are removed, and the data flow is examined across various models. The elicitation process and subsequent analysis lead to a greater understanding of the system. So finally, the requirements are approved, and the documentation begins.
Now, we will learn the requirement analysis techniques.
Requirement Analysis Techniques
1. Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN)
Business Process Model and Notation is used to create graphs that simplify the understanding of the business process. It is a popular technique used by business analysts to coordinate the sequence of messages between different participants in a related set of activities.
Fig: BPMN example
Flowcharts depict sequential flow and control logic of a related set of activities. They are useful for both technical and non-technical members.
Fig: Flowchart example
3. Gantt Charts
Gantt Charts provide a visual representation of tasks along with their scheduled timelines. They help business analysts visualize the start and end dates of all the tasks in a project.
Fig: Gantt Charts example
4. Gap Analysis
Gap analysis evaluates the gaps in a product’s performance to determine whether the requirements are met or not. They help business analysts determine the present state and target state of a product.
Fig: Gap analysis example
Requirement Analysis Tools
Requirements analysis can be performed successfully by using the right set of tools. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Jama Software
- Visure Requirements
- Modern Requirements
- IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Next
- Perforce Helix RM
Go Beyond Basics: Here’s How!
For the success of any project, it is critical to analyze requirements when they are gathered as well as throughout the entire lifecycle of the project. Hence, there is a high demand for business analysts who can keep the requirements of the product in line with the needs and objectives of the business. Simplilearn’s Business Analytics for Strategic Decision Making with IIT Roorkee will help you go beyond basics and master business analysis techniques in no time. This course also includes Agile Scrum methodologies, SQL database, and visualization tools with a focus on real-world projects. Get started with this course today to become an expert business analyst.