Requirements Workshop Technique: Exploring the Power of Collaboration

A requirements workshop can be defined as a structured and facilitated event for getting carefully selected stakeholders together to discover, refine, prioritize, validate and discuss requirements. A skilled facilitator usually manages workshop sessions. It is designed to be collaborative and has its roots embedded in Joint Application Design (JAD).

According to EBG Consulting, workshops have the potential to:

  • Reduce product defects by 20%-50%
  • Reduce scope creep to between 80% -10% and
  • Save time and effort by 5-15% throughout the project life cycle

Workshops are useful where the BA wants to:

  • Gain stakeholder consensus 
  • Tap into the collective wisdom of stakeholders
  • Elicit requirements within a short period

Workshops can be combined with:

  • Supporting materials: Problem statements/scenarios written on paper/whiteboard, Flip chart, post-it notes, markers and a projector
  • MoSCoW technique (for prioritizing requirements)
  • Brainstorming (for discovering requirements)
  • Mockups/prototypes (for refining and validating requirements)
  • Structured Walkthrough (for reviewing requirements)

What happens in a typical workshop?

  • Ground rules are set at the beginning
  • Participants may be split into multiple teams to get the discussion going with each team representing a mix of different interests
  • Participants may be given a problem statement to discuss/objective(s) to achieve. They may also be asked to identify requirements, review existing ones or assign a priority to each requirement.

The BA should:

  • Listen, observe group dynamics and decipher body language – these are useful insights which may guide the BA in asking relevant questions or drawing conclusions.
  • Keep track of time so that the objectives of the workshop are achieved within the allotted time.

Read Organizing Effective Requirements Workshops: Before, During & After for information on how to organize effective workshops.