Challenges in Requirements Elicitation

Kimiko G. Judith

What is Requirements Elicitation?

Requirements elicitation is the most communication intensive part of the requirements process. During requirements elicitation, the business analyst must interact with the stakeholders in many different types of elicitation sessions to draw out the user requirements for a project.

Why Requirements Elicitation?

Without complete, correct and consistent requirements, a project is doomed to failure. This makes it a very critical part of the requirements process. It is also very error-prone due the unpredictability of human nature in communication.

In many situations, users are not sure what they are looking for in a new system or product and have trouble articulating their real needs. It is up to the business analyst to use the right elicitation techniques to successfully obtain the users’ needs.

The Need for a Business Analyst

Requirements elicitation cannot be performed offhandedly by simply asking the user to tell the developers what they want. In many cases users are not aware of how software is created and cannot describe their needs in a way that developers can work with.

On the other hand, developers are usually unfamiliar with the real problems that users are facing so it is easy for them to misinterpret what the users are saying. This is why for the role of the business analyst to bridge the gap between the business users the project team is very necessary.

Challenges With Requirements Elicitation

Other Challenges that the business analyst may encounter during the elicitation process include:

  • Conflicting requirements from different stakeholders
  • Unspoken or assumed requirements
  • Difficulty gaining access to the right stakeholders
  • The stakeholders’ unwillingness to change or help design a new product.
  • Not enough time allocated to meet with all the important stakeholders.

The key to overcoming these challenges as you elicit requirements is to continually motivate your users, developers and customers to communicate and cooperate with each other. You can do this by selecting the right elicitation techniques.

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