Following People Around

Following People Around - Most of the techniques associated with gathering requirements have to do with asking people questions and listening to the response.

The question, answer and discussion format is basically used for one-on-one interviews, group interviews, facilitated sessions, JAD sessions and even questionnaires.

All of these techniques require that the interviewee(s) effectively communicate the requirements and that the project team (analysts) document them correctly.

Another technique doesn't rely on this communication process. Instead, this technique relies on actually observing people in their jobs. This is called "Following People Around."

There are some instances when this technique is valuable and other times when it would not be appropriate. If your team is conducting a Current State Assessment, this technique would be a good way to document the current business processes.

Another reason to use this technique would be if your project involved enhancing or changing a current process. It would make sense to watch people do a current process as a way to understand the changes that would be required.

On the other hand, if you were creating a new process, this technique probably would not work. It would also not necessarily work if the current process involved a lot of intellectual work or other work that is not easily observable. It is usually not a good idea to use this technique for spying.

The best method is to notify the people involved that they will be observed and that you will be taking notes. There are two basic approaches for following people around.

Again, this is a technique for gathering information about current processes. In many projects, it is important to understand the current processes to make sure the new solution meets current and future business needs.

  • Passive / Invisible

In this approach, the analyst observes the business routine but generally does not ask questions. The analyst writes notes about what he or she sees, but otherwise generally tries to stay out of the way. If the analyst asks questions, he or she generally waits until the entire process has been completed.

In fact, the analyst should tell his/her subject to pretend that he/she is invisible. The analyst generally should watch the business process multiple times to be sure to understand how the process works today and why it works the way it does.

  • Active / Visible

In this approach, the analyst still observes the current process and takes notes. However, the analyst is no longer invisible. He or she takes a more active role.

When the analyst has questions as to why something is being done as it is, he or she asks the questions right away, even if it breaks the routine of the person being observed. In this approach, the analyst might even participate in the work to gain a first-hand appreciation for how the process works today.


Again, this is a technique for gathering information about current processes. In many projects, it is important to understand the current processes to make sure the new solution meets current and future business needs.

Foundation


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