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Requirements by Collaboration: Workshops for Defining Needs

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Requirements by Collaboration: Workshops for Defining Needs

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  • Copyright 2002
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 368
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-78606-0
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-78606-4
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-63064-5
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-63064-3

“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, www.BRCommunity.com

“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 facilitators will enrich their knowledge. New facilitators can use this book to get them up to speed and become more effective in less time.”

     –Rob Stroober, Competence Development Manager and Project Manager, Deloitte &Touche Consultdata, The Netherlands

“While many books discuss the details of software requirement artifacts (for example, use cases), Ellen’s new book zeros in on effective workshop techniques and tools used to gather the content of these artifacts. As a pioneer in requirements workshops, she shares her real-life experiences in a comprehensive and easy-to-read book with many helpful examples and diagrams.”

     –Bill Bird, Aera Energy LLC

Requirements by Collaboration is absolutely full of guidance on the most effective ways to use workshops in requirements capture. This book will help workshop owners and facilitators to determine and gain agreement on a sound set of requirements, which will form a solid foundation for the development work that is to follow.”

     –Jennifer Stapleton, Software Process Consultant and author of DSDM: The Methodin Practice

“This book provides an array of techniques within a clear, structured process, along with excellent examples of how and when to use them. It’s an excellent, practical, and really useful handbook written by a very experienced author!”

     –Jean-Anne Kirk, Director DSDM Consortium and IAF Professional Development

“Ellen has written a detailed, comprehensive, and practical handbook for facilitating groups in gathering requirements. The processes she outlines give the facilitator tools to bring together very different perspectives from stakeholders elegantly and with practical, useable results.”

     –Jo Nelson, Principal, ICA Associates, Inc., Chair, IAF (2001-2002)

Requirements by Collaboration: Workshops for Defining Needs focuses on the human side of software development--how well we work with our customers and teammates. Experience shows that the quality and degree of participation, communication, respect, and trust among all the stakeholders in a project can strongly influence its success or failure. Ellen Gottesdiener points out that such qualities are especially important when defining user requirements and she shows in this book exactly what to do about that fact.

Gottesdiener shows specifically how to plan and conduct requirements workshops. These carefully organized and facilitated meetings bring business managers, technical staff, customers, and users into a setting where, together, they can discover, evolve, validate, verify, and agree upon their product needs. Not only are their requirements more effectively defined through this collaboration, but the foundation is laid for good teamwork throughout the entire project.

Other books focus on how to build the product right. Requirements by Collaboration focuses instead on what must come first--the right product to build.


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Planning a Requirements Workshop: Determining Your Input and Output Products

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Sample Chapter 7

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


"What is softest in the world drives what is hardest in the world."


To be successful, software projects need solid requirements and collaborating teams. Problems with requirements are one of the primary causes of software project failure. To make matters worse, the rush to use technologies to collaborate over time and space, or to try to substitute fast development, has resulted in lots of bad software. Many people on both sides of the software divide--developers and users have complaints about their interrelationships.

Requirements by Collaboration explains how to plan and hold workshops to meet two essential needs: efficiently defining user requirements while building positive, productive working relationships. Similar structured workshops are called joint requirements, accelerated design, group design, or Joint Application Design or Development (JAD) sessions. These workshops are about getting the requirements accurately, quickly, and collaboratively, through shared vision and clear communications. By collaborating in this way, you establish relationships, achieve mutual understanding, and build trust.

Successful workshops don't just happen. Facilitating a requirements workshop is simple, but it's not easy. These workshops require forethought, planning, and design on the part of the workshop facilitator as well as its stakeholders.

This book focuses on the essential tools you need for planning and leading requirements workshops. It integrates user requirements modeling, including use cases, business rules, and collaborative techniques. It teaches you the basic principles of designing and facilitating requirements workshops and gives you an overview of the deliverables of these workshops. It also shows you workshop design strategies. This book is a complement to other books on requirements gathering as well as those that deal with software engineering, requirements, modeling, and facilitation. To guide your study of these related topics, most chapters include references and information about further reading.

The aim of this book is to be practical, not theoretical. It's based on my real-world experiences from the numerous projects I've facilitated for clients as well as a series of courses I've written and delivered to clients in a variety of industries. The goals of this book are to provide a focused perspective on user requirements elicitation and to promote techniques that enhance the ongoing relationship between software and business people.

A unique aspect of this book is its discussion of collaboration patterns: reusable collections of group behavior applied to software projects. Collaboration patterns extend the idea of "process patterns"(work methods) by exploiting the power of software and customer groups working in tandem to achieve project goals.

You can think of collaboration as a continuous feedback loop that enhances both the quality and the speed of communication, and thereby of the products created in workshops. For this reason, the techniques described in this book use collaboration patterns coupled with clearly defined user requirements documentation and diagrams.

Anyone who participates in initiating, eliciting, analyzing, verifying, validating, or approving requirements for software will find this book useful. The focus is on perspectives, ranging from those of project sponsors to analysts, with the goal of providing a common understanding of user requirements from concept through specification. Readers of this book include people who will facilitate requirements workshops; project, product, and business managers overseeing the requirements process; and participants in requirements workshops. Project roles include analyst, project manager, product manager, developer, architect, quality assurance analyst, tester, and requirements engineer.

Like life itself, workshops are often surprising. You plan, and plan you must. But then unexpected things happen when people get together. A workshop rarely follows its original plan because when people get together, things get messy and sloppy; mistakes are made, discussions go off-track, the unexpected occurs. Yet this is when great ideas spring forth. With steady guidance from the facilitator, the group can achieve wonders.

The Organization of This Book

The body of this book contains 12 chapters within three parts.

Part One, Overview of Requirements Workshops, contains three chapters .

Chapter 1, Getting Started with Requirements Workshops, describes the problems associated with eliciting requirements and the basic concepts of the requirements workshop.

Chapter 2 , Workshop Deliverables: Mining Coal, Extracting Diamonds, provides a high-level overview of the various models that are the primary deliverables of a requirements workshop. Each of these models expresses a particular point of view, provides perspective on a certain focus, and achieves a varying level of detail. The chapter also explains how the workshop facilitator selects the most appropriate models for the workshop.

Chapter3, Ingredients of a Successful Requirements Workshop, describes the elements you need to achieve success with a requirements workshop.

Part Two, Requirements Workshop Framework, contains six chapters.

Chapter 4, Purpose: Sharing a Common Goal, describes how to specify why a given workshop is being held. A concise statement of purpose is the starting point for defining the other elements of a workshop: who, how, what, where, and when. Shared purpose is also an essential element for participants to ecome an effective working group.

Chapter5, Participants: Roles People Play, describes the various roles played by workshop attendees. It also explains what to do if surrogate or substitute users will attend your workshop and why the facilitator should be neutral and should have knowledge about requirements models. The chapter discusses the importance of participation by business subject matter experts, sponsors, and software stakeholders.

Chapter 6, Principles: Ground Rules for the Workshop, describes basic ground rules, special ground rules, ways to uncover hidden agendas, and decision-making ground rules.

Chapter 7, Products: Ending with the Beginning, discusses workshop products in detail. It describes how to determine the right level of precision, perform doneness tests, and divide a product across multiple sessions (or multiple products across a single session). It also shows how to promote efficiency by using pre - work and self - assigned post - work.

Chapter 8 , Place: Being There, describes same -time, same -place focus, recording modes (including posters and collaborative software tools) ,and location logistics.

Chapter 9, Process: Plan the Work , Work the Plan, describes the design and flow of workshop activities and shows you how to create a comprehensive agenda to serve as your roadmap. The chapter discusses how to open and close the workshop and defines collaborative modes, focus questions, collaboration patterns, sponsor "show and tell" group dynamics, and location logistics.

Part Three, Requirements Workshop Design Strategies, contains three chapters.

Chapter 10, Workshop Navigation Strategies , describes three roadmaps for structuring requirements workshops: horizontal, vertical, and zig zag.

Chapter 11, Workshop Case Studies, illustrates the book's principles and strategies with several case studies drawn from requirements workshops that I've facilitated.

Chapter 1 2, Moving Forward ,explains how to make workshops a best practice, including using data to improve workshops, selling workshops to management, integrating workshops in to your requirements process, ensuring that subject matter experts and the workshop facilitator have the needed knowledge and skills, and identifying helpful ground rules.

The book also includes a Glossary, which contains definitions for all terms introduced in the body of the text. The Bibliography lists books and articles that contain relevant material. Finally, the Appendix describes a set of collaboration patterns, referenced in the main body, that I have found helpful in facilitating requirements workshops.



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Requirements by Collaboration: Workshops for Defining Needs (0201786060)

Page xxv, 3rd full paragraph, line 3, "Meiler" should be spelled "Meilir"

Page 15, Figure 1-2 , The figure has the top box with "Charter" grayed out. It should be faded out like the elements of the wheel (e.g., see page 133) so that top box with "Charter" is lighter and looks like it's in the background (the box and the word "charter")

Page 34, Figure 2-5, Middle column in figure, 5th row: "Freedom" should be "Freeform"

Page 50, In the section: "Shared Space", third para, next to last line, Insert: "digital camera" before the ",or..." so it reads "...a whiteboard recorder, digital camera, or any combination of these tools."

Page 89, Icon: "Wise Group", Should read "Wise Groups" (with an "s" added)

Page 117, Icon: "Wise Group", Should read "Wise Groups" (with an "s" added)

Page 124, Figure 6-2, At 11:00 in the diagram, the text in the circle should read: "Decision Leader Decides without Discussion" (the 'out' is left out of 'without')

Page 126, First paragraph, last line, Change "six-point scale" to be "eight-point scale"

Page 144, Icon: "Wise Group", Should read "Wise Groups" (with an "s" added)

Page 153, Missing cartoon, Cartoon 7-2: "The glossary guardian keeps the glossary up-to-date during the workshop" should be inserted above that same text (that should be the cartoon caption and the font of it changed accordingly)

Page 187, Figure 9-4, At about 7:00, the text "Type of Group Interacation" should read "Type of Group Interaction"

Page 192, Icon: "Focus Question", Should read "Focus Questions" (with an "s" added)

Page 248, Figure 11-2, Two fixes:

  • Connecting line from "use case steps" box to connector
  • In text box at bottom, remove the common in the first line

Page 252, Figure 11-3, Add connecting line from "Glossary" box to connector

Page 263, Second paragraph, second line, The reference "Jones, 1996" should be "Jones, 1996c"

Page 316, Index subentry, "Collaboration" in the index, "reaching" has an extra g in the 6th subentry

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