Sharing information sounds so pleasant, we all love to share our weekend stories of family activities and adventures on our days off. But when it comes to sharing business information, we tend to be less enthusiastic. For business analysis professionals, sharing requirements seems to be the most difficult thing for us to do. But we must share, sooner rather than later, to be most effective.
Why Share BEFORE Requirements are Done?
Why should you share your requirements before you have completed them? Well, rarely are requirements truly complete. Usually DONE occurs when you run out of time. Waiting until you think you are done (or you run out of time) doesn’t allow for revisions. You are too invested in the result and don’t welcome feedback. And you probably don’t have any time left to fix them anyway.
Sharing Helps Get to DONE
Often the reason we feel that we are not done is because we are afraid we have forgotten something. Requirements are complex and detailed, it is easy to miss a few aspects of the business needs or the desired functional design. Some business analysts will continue to read and re-read their requirements, making little tweaks, fixing formatting, correcting spelling and hoping to find the missing requirements before they “let go” of the document. But the best way to find a missing requirement is to have someone else look at your work! A person who did not draw the diagrams or write the business descriptions, will often immediately see ambiguity or missing explanations. They will notice terms which are not defined or used inaccurately. Within only a few minutes, many improvements will be found.
You are Also Helping Others Learn
On many projects, complex requirements are not really understood by everyone on the team. Most people don’t like to admit they don’t understand the business problem or the intended solution but by reading requirements they learn more deeply about the need and the design. Although few may admit it, reviewing requirements is a way for team members to better understand the project while telling themselves they are helping you!
Save Yourself Time
In addition, getting a second opinion makes sure you are going in the right direction with a design or recommendation. If you wait until your design or recommendation is complete, you may have taken the wrong direction and wasted a significant amount of time. On a recent project, the BA did not share her wireframes until the analysis phase of our project was over and she had to give them to the developers for their work. The screen designs were not revealed until the first demo and, by then, coding time had been wasted on a design which several business users disliked.
Sharing is Hard but Worth the Effort
It is difficult to show someone incomplete work. Artists don’t like their subjects to see portraits until they are done. But requirements evolve with collaboration and review. If someone has time and the desire to review your requirements, welcome feedback! Even if someone doesn’t ask, put your drafts in front of anyone you can. Any feedback is helpful. Your requirements will be immensely better the more people who review them and fewer important items will be missed.