Elicitation Techniques

Elicitation Techniques

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Elicitation Techniques

 

Elicitation involves the actions that are taken to understand the users and discover their needs.

Elicitation includes the discovery and some invention, as well as recording those bits of requirements information that customer representatives and subject matter experts offer to the business analyst.

Elicitation demands iteration. The participants in an elicitation discussion won’t think of everything up front, and their thinking will change as the project continues. Requirements development is an exploratory activity.

The definition of elicitation is:

  1. to draw forth or bring out (something latent or potential)
  2. to call forth or draw out (as information or a response)

Types of Elicitation Techniques

  1. Brainstorming
  2. Focus Group

Note: I will update the blog with other Elicitation Techniques soon.

Brainstorming

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In 1939, Alex Osborn and his executive team proposed the term “brainstorm.” According to Osborn, “Brainstorm means using the brain to storm a creative problem and to do so “in commando fashion, each participant audaciously attacking the same objective or problem.” Brainstorms help answer specific questions such as (but not limited to):

  1. What options are available to resolve the issue at hand?
  2. What factors are constraining the group from moving ahead with an approach or option?
  3. What could be causing a delay in an activity?
  4. What can the group do to solve the problem?

Brainstorming works by focusing on a topic or problem, and then coming up with many solutions to it. This technique is best applied in a group as it draws on the experience and creativity of all members of the group. In the absence of a group, one could brainstorm on one’s own to spark new ideas.

Purpose

Brainstorming is an excellent way of eliciting many creative ideas for an area of interest. Structured brainstorming produces numerous creative ideas about any given “central question” or topic.

Process

  1. Prepare for Brainstorming
    • Develop a clear and concise definition of the area of interest
    • Determine a time limit for the group to generate ideas, the larger the group, the more time required
    • Decide who will be included in the session and their role – participant or facilitator. Aim for participants (ideally 6 to 8) who represent a range of background and experience with the topic
    • Establish criteria for evaluating and rating the ideas
  2. Conduct Brainstorming session
    • Share new ideas without any discussion, criticism or evaluation.
    • Visibly record all ideas.
    • Encourage participants to be creative, share exaggerated ideas, and build on the ideas of others.
    • Don’t limit the number of ideas as the goal is to elicit as many ideas as possible within the time period
  3. Wrap-up the brainstorming
    • Once the time limit is reached, using the per-determined evaluation criteria, discuss and evaluate the ideas
    • Create a condensed list of ideas, combine ideas where appropriate, and eliminate duplicates
    • Rate the ideas. There are many techniques that can be used to prioritize the ideas, e.g. voting
    • Distribute the final list of ideas to appropriate parties

Intended Audience

Ideas generated in a brainstorming session are consumed by any or all of the following:

  • Project team
  • Stakeholders

Strengths

  • Able to elicit many ideas in a short time period
  • Non-judgmental environment enables outside-the-box thinking

Weakness

  • Dependent on participants’ creativity
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