Requirements by Collaboration: Workshops for Defining Needs

Ellen Gottesdiener  
Total pages
April 2002
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Requirements by Collaboration: Workshops for Defining Needs
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Table of Contents

List of Figures.

List of Tables.


The Organization of This Book.



1. Getting Started with Requirements Workshops.

Essential Requirements.

Difficulties with Requirements.

Requirements Levels.

Surfacing User Requirements.

User Requirements Models.

Requirements Workshops.

Workshops and Collaboration.

Workshops and Facilitation.

How Workshops Differ from Typical Meetings.

Workshop Products.

Types of Requirements Workshops.

Other Uses for Workshops.

Workshops and Iterative Development.

Making the Business Case for a Requirements Workshop.

When Not to Use Requirements Workshops.

Summing Up.

For More Information.

2. Workshop Deliverables: Mining Coal, Extracting Diamonds.

The Evolution of Requirements.

Business Requirements.

User Requirements.

Software Requirements.

Model Views, Focuses, and Levels of Detail.

Model Views.

Model Focus.

Level of Detail.

Building the Models.

As-Is Models.

Multiple Models.

Model Briefings.

Actor Map.

Actor Table.

Business Policies.

Business Rules.

Context Diagram.

Decision Table or Decision Tree.

Domain Model.

Event Table.


Process Map.


Relationship Map.


Stakeholder Classes.

Statechart Diagrams.

Use Cases.

Use Case Map.

Use Case Package.

User Interface Navigation Diagram.

For More Information.

3. Ingredients of a Successful Requirements Workshop.

A Shared Purpose.

The Right People.

Shared Space.

Wise Groups.


Focus Questions.

Serious Play.


Process Variety.

Doneness Tests.

Collaborative Closure.

Flexible Structure.

Using Both Sides of the Brain.

Frequent Debriefs.


4. Purpose: Sharing a Common Goal.

Writing Your Workshop Purpose Statement.

Don't Assume Anything.

Seek the Stories.

Link Workshop Purpose with Project Vision.

Defining Project Scope.

Identifying the Workshop Sponsor.

Defining the Workshop Planning Team.

Sample Purpose Statements.

Purpose for Horizontal Top-Down Requirements Workshop.

Horizontal Middle-Out Requirements Workshop.

Horizontal Bottom-Up Requirements Workshop.

Vertical Strategy Requirements Workshop.

Zigzag Strategy Requirements Workshop.


Questions to Ask Stakeholders.

Questions Related to Project Purpose.

Questions Related to Workshop Purpose.

For More Information.

5. Participants: Roles People Play.

Workshop Roles.

The Workshop Sponsor.

The Project Sponsor.

Having Sponsors in the Workshop.

Sponsor Kick-and-Close.

Content Participants.

Surrogate Users.

Ensuring Attendance.

The Recorder.

The Facilitator.

Facilitator as Planner and Designer.

Facilitator as Process Leader.

Facilitator Observation and Intervention Skills.

Other Facilitator Considerations.

Should You Hire an Outside Facilitator?


On-Call Subject Matter Experts.


Questions to Ask Stakeholders About Participant Roles.

For More Information.

6. Principles: Ground Rules for the Workshop.

Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.

Basic Ground Rules.

Special Ground Rules.

Values-Based Ground Rules.

Culturally Aware Ground Rules.

Introducing and Testing Ground Rules.

Hidden Agendas.

Decision-Making Ground Rules.

Product and Process Decisions.

Collaborative Decision Making.

Decision Rules.

Reaching Closure.

A Real-World Example.


Questions to Ask Stakeholders About Ground Rules.

For More Information.

7. Products: Ending with the Beginning.

Output Products.

Making Deliverables Visually Rich.

Select Models Aligned with the Business Problem.

Use Multiple Models.

Mix Text and Diagrammatic Models.

Mix Focuses and Views.

Define the Level of Detail.

Iteratively Deliver Requirements.

Prioritize the Deliverables.

Partition Requirements Across Workshops.

Define Doneness Tests.


Doneness Testing and Decision Making.

Intangible Output Products.

Input Products.

The Workshop Agenda.

Draft Models.

System and User Documentation.



Workshop Aids.

The Workshop Repository.


Questions to Ask Stakeholders About Products.

For More Information.

8. Place: Being There.

Workshop Logistics.

Room Setup.

Creating Sticky Walls.

Preparing the Workshop Room.

Different Time and Place Options.


Collaborative Technology.

Collaborative Technology Variants.

Collaborative Technology: A Caveat.


Place Checklists.

For More Information.

9. Process: Plan the Work, Work the Plan.

Opening the Workshop.

The Opener.

Designing Activities.

Sequencing Activities.

Framing Activities.


Elements of a Workshop Activity.

Sample Workshop Activity.

Estimating Activity Time.

Using Focus Questions.

Imagine This….

QA As You Go.

Collaborative Modes.

Collaboration Patterns.

Wall of Wonder.

Divide, Conquer, Correct, Collect.


Expand Then Contract.

The Sieve.

Combining Collaboration Patterns.

Collaborative Techniques.

Techniques for Guiding the Flow.

The Parking Lot.

Group Dynamics.


The Value of Conflict.

Group Dysfunction.

How to Deal with Difficult Participants.

Fun and Games.

Closing the Workshop.

The Show-and-Tell.

Addressing Parking Lot Items.

Final Debrief.


Tools for the Workshop Process.

For More Information.


10. Workshop Navigation Strategies.

The Horizontal Strategy.

Picking Your Horizontal Strategy.

The Top-Down Approach.

The Middle-Out Approach.

The Bottom-Up Approach.

The Vertical Strategy.

Pick a Starting Model.

Pick a Primary Focus.

Start at the Scope Level or the High Level.

Move Over.

The Vertical Strategy with Multiple Workshops.

The Zigzag Strategy.

Comparing the Strategies.

11. Workshop Case Studies.


What Worked Well.

Pitfalls and Learning Points.


What Worked Well.

Pitfalls and Learning Points.


What Worked Well.

Pitfalls and Learning Points.


What Worked Well.

Pitfalls and Learning Points.

12. Moving Forward.

Making the Case to Management.

The Business Value of Requirements Workshops.

Critical Success Factors.

Surfacing Problems.

How to Evaluate Workshops.

What to Report.

Deliverable Data to Capture.

Cost-Benefit Data to Capture.

Happy Sheets.

The Post-Workshop Survey.

Improvement Data.

Regular Workshop Debriefs.

Integrating Workshops into the Requirements Phase.

Becoming a Skilled Requirements Workshop Facilitator.

The IAF.

How Much Must the Facilitator Know?

What Do Business Users Need to Know?

Ground Rules for the Facilitator.


For More Information.

Appendix: Collaboration Patterns.



Index. 0201786060T03262002

Back Cover

“I spend much time helping organizations capture requirements and even more time helping them recover from not capturing requirements. Many of them have gone through some motions regarding requirements as if they were sleepworking. It’s time to wake up and do it right–and this book is going to be their alarm clock.”

     – Jerry Weinberg, author of numerous books on productivity enhancement

“In today’s complex, fast-paced software development environment, collaboration–the intense peer-to-peer conversations that result in products, decisions, and knowledge sharing–is absolutely essential to success. But all too often, attempts to collaborate degenerate into agonizing meetings or ineffectual bull sessions. Ellen's wonderful book will help you bridge the gap–turning the agony of meetings into the ecstasy of effective collaboration.”

     – Jim Highsmith, a pioneer in adaptive software development methods

Requirements by Collaboration presents a wealth of practical tools and techniques for facilitating requirements development workshops. It is suitable–no, essential reading–for requirements workshop facilitators. It will help both technical people and customer representatives participate in these critical contributions to software success.”

     – Karl Wiegers, Principal Consultant, Process Impact, author of Software Requirements

“The need for this particular book, at this particular time, is crystal clear. We have entered a new age where software development must be viewed as a form of business problem solving. That means direct user participation in developing ‘requirements,’ or more accurately, in jointly working the business problem. That, in turn, means facilitated sessions. In this book, Ellen Gottesdiener provides a wealth of practical ideas for ensuring that you have exactly the right stuff for this all-important area of professional art.”

     – Ronald G. Ross, Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC, Executive Editor,

“Gottesdiener’s years of software development experience coupled with her straight-forward writing style make her book a perfect choice for either a senior developer or a midlevel project manager. In addition to her technical experience, her knowledge of group dynamics balance the book by educating the reader on how to manage conflict and personality differences within a requirements team–something that is missing from most requirements textbooks...It is a required ‘handbook’ that will be referred to again and again.”

     – Kay Christian, ebusiness Consultant, Conifer, Colorado

Requirements by Collaboration is a ‘must read’ for any system stakeholder. End users and system analysts will learn the significant value they can add to the systems development process. Management will learn the tremendous return they may receive from making a modest time/people investment in facilitated sessions. Facilitators will discover ways to glean an amazing amount of high-quality information in a relatively brief time.”

     – Russ Schwartz, Computer System Quality Consultant, Global Biotechnology Firm

“In addition to showing how requirements are identified, evaluated, and confirmed, Ellen provides important guidance based on her own real-world experience for creating and managing the workshop environment in which requirements are generated. This book is an engaging and invaluable resource for project teams and sponsors, both business and IT, who are committed to achieving results in the most productive manner possible.”

     – Hal Thilmony, Senior Manager, Business Process Improvement (Finance), CiscoSystems, Inc.

“Project managers should read this book for assistance with planning the requirements process. Experienced


Ellen Gottesdiener is President of EBG Consulting, Inc., a firm providing facilitation, consulting, and training services for clients in a wide variety of industries. She is a pioneer in the use of facilitated workshops to elicit business rules and other user requirements. She is the author of numerous articles and several book contributions and is a highly regarded speaker at professional conferences.