Business analysts, are you prioritizing requirements the right way?
How many times in your BA role have you been caught up with stakeholders arguing on which requirements need to be taken up?
How many times have you had long meetings trying to negotiate with stakeholders who claimed that all the requirements were critical?
Most of my BA friends would agree that requirements prioritization is one of the critical tasks for documenting and finalizing requirements. However, it is not devoid of challenges. Each stakeholder may value something different and this can result in conflicts. It may also seem that all requirements are important and need attention.
While we may love to have all the requirements implemented, it is almost impossible to do so with the limited resources of the project. It is at this point that we need to understand the critical requirements that need to be addressed. Prioritizing requirements helps us in this regard.
Prioritization of requirements is critical to any project for the following reasons:
It helps in determining the relative importance of various requirements
It helps in determining which requirements need to be targeted for further analysis
It helps in determining how much time or detail should be allocated to the identified requirements
It helps in identifying those requirements which need to be implemented first/taken up in the next phase
As the popular saying goes we can’t make everyone happy, this is also true with stakeholders. But as business analysts, we have to consider our stakeholders, their needs, and their opinions on the value of a requirement and come up with the best possible outcome.
So, here are a few aspects which you need to consider while prioritizing requirements:
Category of the requirement – Business requirement, Stakeholder requirement, Solution requirement (Functional, Non-Functional) or Transition requirement
Criticality of the requirement – There are requirements without which day to day operation would be hampered/would not be possible, ones which would have a workaround, ones which can be pushed to the next release etc. Understand how critical the requirement in question is.
Business value of the requirement – Understand the value that the requirement would bring about. Whether it is revenue growth/dollar saving, entry to a new market segment, improvement to the usability /user experience or something else.
Effort/cost to implement
Opportunity loss due to the lack of this requirement
Based on the business value, the effort/cost to implement and the opportunity loss, arrive at a value index which would be (business value+ opportunity loss)/cost to implement
Involve most of the stakeholders/all critical stakeholders/stakeholder representation from most of the groups/units to prioritize the requirements.
Arrive at the value index with inputs from these stakeholders.
Prioritize requirements using this value index.
Publish the list of requirements as per the decision based on the value to all the concerned stakeholders and users involved.
Consider the MOSCOW matrix also for prioritization of requirements -
M - Must have
S - Should have
C - Could have
W - Won't have
To conclude, prioritization may be challenging but it is not something you can avoid.
So the next time you prioritize requirements, keep these simple yet effective tips handy!
Ann heads the global sales and marketing role at Adaptive US Inc. She is also a coach and mentor to thousands of BAs in their pursuit of achieving IIBA certifications. Her mission is to help business analysts to start and build a successful professional career. She is a regular author, blogger on various Business analysis, management, and technology-related topics in leading tech sites and journals.