Are you a requirements bully?

The way you deal with requirements elicitation and management on a daily basis highlights many Business Analysis styles. Do you recognize yourself in one of the following scenarios?

  • You love corporate templates, and you can’t see how you could be efficient without them. Your stakeholders express doubts about their real value from time to time, but hey! Who are they to tell you how to do your work?
  • Nothing’s better than teamwork to reach our objectives, especially when it’s time to review requirements documentation. A large meeting room, a projector, 23 participants and a half-day joint review session are essential to reach a satisfying result. And woe to those who didn’t show up; they are obviously wrong!
  • Nonetheless, even though teamwork is essential, you are the only requirements expert in the room! Therefore, you’ll need to spend most of your time to document requirements for them to be perfect so that nobody would dare challenging them. Which means you shouldn’t be interrupted during this time, in order to be ready for your big requirements presentation with your stakeholders.

If you can relate yourself to some of these situations, you probably are a requirements bully.

Doctor, will I survive?

Yes, I confess, I sometimes have extreme positions when it’s time to elicit and manage requirements, making me a soft requirements bully. With hindsight, I came to the conclusion that this attitude is often counterproductive for you and your stakeholders.

First, this approach quickly slows down collaboration with others. When you are hell-bent to use your own methods while your stakeholders don’t understand them, it will be hard to keep them motivated and participating. Moreover, dictating your approach can lead to useless noise in your elicitation effort and your understanding of requirements, ultimately slowing down your progression.

In the end, it’s your initiative’s requirements that will suffer, so will your reputation as a Business Analyst… and maybe your whole organization!

However, recognizing your status as a requirements bully is the first step toward a better you. Let’s see how it’s possible to do this and make your stakeholders life easier.

1. Put emphasis on the value generated by your activities for your stakeholders

Everyone agrees there are great benefits to standardize your practices and Business Analysis tools. However, there are also many situations where adaptation is essential to guarantee the proper execution of your activities, and the quality of requirements that will result of them.

In the end, the best way to guarantee it is to make sure that you generate value for your stakeholders (including those who force you to use specific templates or techniques). Be empathetic to their reality, adapt your approach to their characteristics, and respect their rythm. Moreover, nothing prevents you to create temporary artefacts to reach your elicitation objectives, before making them compliant to your practices.

Agile principles are a good starting point to review your Business Analysis practices. No matter what is your delivery methodology, these principles will bring you back on the right track.

2. Actively involve your stakeholders in requirements activities

Although the Business Analyst is the expert in eliciting and managing requirements, it’s seldom him who has the ownership of these requirements. However, many requirements bullies act like they know better about specific requirements than their stakeholders! The business domain knowledge is essential for the success of the Business Analyst, but it doesn’t mean you should ignore your collaborators.

There are many ways to actively involve the end users and other stakeholders, from prototyping to live observation of their work, to working with visual techniques. In the end, the overall satisfaction of your stakeholders will improve, as the quality of the requirements.

3. Tell a story!

An essential part of the Business Analyst role is communication. This skill has multiple dimensions, going from the way you interact with your stakeholders, to the tools and techniques you use, to the way you use your own Business Analysis deliverables.

But in the end, the best way to keep your stakeholders’ interest and participation levels high is to tell a captivating story through all of your intervention. This will allow you to build confidence and trust among stakeholders, which will help you in the long run.

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With hindsight, are you also a requirements bully? Maybe you have been one in the past? Share your story in the comments below or on the social Network!

I initially posted this article in December 2016 on MĂ©tier | BA, a French-speaking community aiming to bridge the gap between Business Analysis and its benefits for organizations. If you happen to be a French-speaking BA, don’t hesitate to join the community too!

Image credits : minivan1411 @

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By Eric Provost

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Eric Provost

Making sense out of chaos as a BA & UX specialist

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