Project Management

Plan and Facilitate a Requirements Workshop

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Categories: Project Planning

Every project manager knows that there is no single best way to collect project requirements. 

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) -- Fourth Edition identifies several tools and approaches for collecting requirements. They include interviews and focus groups, facilitated workshops, group creativity and group decision-making techniques. 

Combining some of these tools and techniques with a requirements workshop can be the most efficient and effective requirements elicitation approach. But only if the workshop is planned and facilitated well.

Planning a requirements workshop is no different than planning any meeting or event. Some simple steps to follow:
1. Define the scope and establish an agenda 
The scope and agenda should make it clear to all participants the reasons why they are attending the workshop. 

2. Invite the right people 
Generally, you want to keep the guest list short, but make sure to invite key stakeholders. These include representatives from teams or user groups that will benefit from the project's outcome, project sponsors, product or system owners, and business and technical consultants. 

3. Plan the logistics 
To facilitate an open and constructive working session, make sure that the workshop's location and environment has sufficient capacity and appropriate equipment for hosting the workshop. 

Now that we have a good plan, how do we facilitate the workshop? 

1. Lay ground rules 
Establish basic ground rules. For example, start on time, stay in scope, and respect and build on other people's ideas. 

2. Gather requirements 
Get everyone involved through questioning and individual interviewing. Apply group creativity techniques, such as brainstorming and mind mapping. And for topics that require in-depth and focused discussions, organize dedicated breakout sessions. 

3. Record the workshop 
Make sure that someone attends the workshop solely to write the protocol during the workshop. He or she should capture all requirements, ideas, assumptions, risks and open items. 

4. Pre-qualify and pre-prioritize requirements 
To facilitate the scoping process at a later stage, try to leave a requirements workshop with pre-qualified and pre-prioritized requirements. 

5. Review the protocol and develop a follow-up plan 
At the end of the workshop, plan sufficient time to review the written protocol and the derived action items. Develop a follow-up plan to address the open items. Identify the owner of each item, and establish deadlines and next-steps. 

Do you hold requirements workshops? If so, how do you plan and facilitate them?

Posted by Marian Haus on: May 29, 2012 10:51 AM | Permalink

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