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Three simple steps to writing business requirements

There is an old Native American proverb that goes like this: “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.”

A similar idea for the Business Analyst is: “To write good requirements, you need to have walked a mile in the user’s moccasins to understand how they will use a product.”

 Here are three simple steps to follow:

  1. Make no assumptions about how users will use the product.
    • Identify the user community for the requirements you are writing.
    • Identify how the user community will use this capability/functionality.
    • Ensure you make no assumptions regarding their understanding of the functionality.
    • Break down the requirements into simple steps that are easy to understand by anyone.
  2. Address the 5 Ws – Who, What, Where, When and Why.
    • This highlights the benefits to the user.
    • State what benefits this capability provides.
    • Identify who will benefit most by using this functionality.
    • Provide reasons why this capability/functionality provides the best benefits to the user.
    • Identify when this capability/functionality can/will be used.
    • Define where this capability/functionality is best used.
  3. Break down the requirements into simple parts – do not complicate it.
    • List any assumptions you are making to use this capability/functionality.
    • List any dependencies that exist to implement this capability/functionality.
    • Identify potential risks that may exist with this capability.
    • From a scope perspective, list what’s in and what’s excluded.
    • List the requirements in simple language. Start with the most obvious. List one capability at a time. List what will and will not work with this capability, keeping in mind the 5 Ws. Reference examples or diagrams to make your point.

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