How to get a clear picture of wishes and needs? Simple! Keep asking!

By Chantal Koekman

25-Jun-2014 10:43:00


Doorvragen_blog_Chantal_DEFIdentifying somebody's true wishes and needs is hard, often rendering a low quality of requirements. How do you uncover the actual requirements? How do you ensure clear and unequivocal requirements? How do you ascertain sufficient requirement quality?

Simple! Keep asking!

Keep asking!

As a business analyst, you regularly talk to stakeholders to uncover their wishes and needs. Many responses are triggered by a current issue, e.g. high cost, slow processing of client questions or a high workload. And often people have also come up with a solution.

But solutions are not wishes and needs. On the contrary. Wishes and demands are at the basis of the mapping various possible solutions. The best solution will then be picked from this set of possibilities.

So it's very important for the business analyst to keep asking during the conversation, to make sure that the wishes and needs are clear. But how do you do this?

5 x Why-method

When trying to uncover wishes and needs from stakeholders, you should ask questions and keep asking... then ask some more. Which are the right questions? Which questions uncover the true needs of a person? The 5 x why method is applied quite often.

There are several advantage to the 5 x why method. Every time you ask why, you let the other person think on a deeper level. If you ask this question to someone 5 times, he/she will eventually find his/her true need. It also avoids jumping to conclusions and making assumptions.

But there are a few risks involved! People can get annoyed. When my daughter was 2,5 years old, she went through the 'why'-stage. Why am I a girl? Why do I have to go to bed? Why do I have to eat? Why is the sky blue? Why is that a horse? Why, why, why...?

Constantly asking why can cause someone to get very annoyed. This is a private life example, but the same applies to business. Irritation occurs when the 'why' questions you are asking come across as an interrogation, a reproach, a personal attack or as an intent to undermine someone's expertise.

And try to find that nugget of information when someone's irritated!