BI Requirements Gathering – Insight From A Scavenger Hunt

BI Requirements Gathering

We at Lodestar have geared up for 2015 and one of our big topic has been BI Requirements Gathering.

During the week of January 11th, we had our All Team meeting, where we plotted out and solidified our exciting programs that will be continually rolled out in 2015. This led me to think of the correlation between what we did during the week and bi requirements gathering for software implementations.

We even had a scavenger hunt, where we were given clues to 6 locations that we had to take “selfies” at to prove we found each location.  We were separated into 3 teams.  Each team had a driver that was local to the Tampa area, but most of the passengers were from out of town. 

The drivers were Melissa, Kelly and myself (Serena).

We got our clues at 5:30 PM and had to reach our destination by 7:15pm.  Simple enough, but of course we had rush hour traffic to navigate.

In a sense, you can equate this scavenger hunt to your software implementation: clues to what is required, guides that know the area, a start & finish timeframe, and the traffic would be all the slowdowns that pop up (ie configuring the environment, getting pulled back to your “day job”, etc.).

Note that of the 6 locations, only one was a good 20 minutes west of the other 5 without traffic.

And the order of reaching the finish line…

1st Place – Kelly's Team

Kelly's team reached the final destination at 6:40 and was fortunate to not hit as much traffic or any major “roadblocks”, if you will.

2nd Place – My Team 

Now, if that clown who ran out of gas on Kennedy Blvd had not been involved, we would have been closer to the winning time.  So sometimes you will just have to work through an obstacle keeping in mind the overall goal of the project.

3rd Place – Melissa’s Team

Melissa’s Team arrived at 7:05 because of a combination of, not only traffic, but completely unforeseen issues that popped up beyond their control but completed each task and did so in the allotted time period.

Moral of the story, proper requirements gathering is key to reaching your goal and be aware that unforeseen circumstances may arise so you need to be flexible enough to evaluate each situation as it's presented to you.

Techniques for BI Requirements Gathering

BI Requirements Gathering often involves interviewing business people and IT to identify how to maximize the solutions you are working to implement.   The goal of the interview is to capture valuable information that will help define a robust solution.  Below are helpful tips and tricks for interviewing that everyone responsible for Requirements Gathering should keep in mind.

  1. Know your subject.  To ask the high yield questions, you need to know your subject and your interviewee.  Check the person out on LinkedIn and get to know his/her background.  This could provide areas that you have in common.  Also make certain you are knowledgeable on the subject matter or business area.  If you are interviewing people regarding an inventory system, make sure you know the basic jargon and acronyms used within that area of expertise.
  2. Come with a plan. Craft questions in advance to ensure you ask questions that start conversations rather than halt them in their tracks.  The best questions are open-ended. They begin with “How?” “What?” “Where?” “When?” “Why?” They’re conversations starters and encourage expansive answers that produce an abundance of information needed to produce a complete and accurate story.  But, stick to the script, and always ask one question at a time. Don’t be afraid to edit yourself midstream if needed by saying, “You know that’s a terrible question. Let me put it another way.”  Let your questions be a guide, but focus on the conversation.
  3. Embrace silence.  Silence is awkward for most people. When you ask a question, often times, the best moments come when you let a question float a beat too long. Shut your mouth. Wait. People hate silence and rush to fill it. Ask your question. Let them talk. If you have to, count to 10. Make eye contact, smile, nod, but don’t speak. You’ll be amazed at the information that follows. “Silence opens the door to hearing dialogue, rare and valuable in breaking stories,” says Brady Dennis of The Washington Post.
  4. Empathy.  If you can show sources that you have empathy — some understanding of their plight — they’re more likely to open up to you.
  5. Think in sound bites.  The most powerful quotes are short, sometimes just fragments of speech. Listen for dialogue, those exchanges between people that illuminate character, drive action and propel readers forward.  You will want to use these sound bites in your request for funding and project charters.
  6. Play dumb.  The person you are interviewing is an expert, they don’t expect you to be.  By conveying that they know more than you, you will play to their ego.  If they like you and know you aren’t as knowledgeable, they will often go to great lengths to help you.
  7. Establish ground rules. Make sure you set up rules, like how long you need for the interview, that you would like to record the conversation, the request for no phones, and how you will utilize the information.  This allows both of you to focus on the subject.
  8. Record it to improve.  Record your interviews. Transcribe the questions as well as the answers. Do you ask more conversation stoppers than starters? Do you step on your subject’s words just as they’re beginning to open up? Do you sound like a caring, interested human being or a badgering prosecutor? To be the best interviewer, you must learn from each experience.

For more tips and information please contact us at


5 Gathering Requirements Gathering Tips – What Are They Not Saying?

5 Gathering Requirements Gathering Tips – What Are They Not Saying?

The task of requirements gathering for any new project can be daunting.   The challenge is to get the business to tell you what they need, often times when they don’t even know what’s possible.   Many companies send a business analyst out to get the requirements.  They might create a survey, interview people, and then they develop a document that lists their findings.  That’s what we would expect them to do, right.  How effective is this process in your organization?  The goal should be to:


If you want to really get to know what the business needs, it’s time to discover what they are not saying.   Here are 5 requirements gathering tips for uncovering the truth:

  1. Building rapport with the business users by being empathetic will result in more information being shared.
  2. Practice reading non-verbal communications.  Two–thirds of all communication is non-verbal.
  3. Have all meetings in person or with video to see non-verbal clues.  If you can’t see it, you will miss it.
  4. Give the business users notebooks to jot down ideas while they are working.   It’s like a grocery list; it should grow over time.
  5. Help them understand the purpose of the project and how it will benefit them personally.  This will encourage collaboration.

If you are looking for proven methods in these areas, check out our Psychology of Requirements Gathering Workshop.