Adopting an analyst’s approach to gathering system requirements.

    Borrowing from proven methods.

    Business analysts often reverse-engineer requirements by evaluating existing technology, and determining how important the problems it was designed to solve are to their own organisation.

    Business analysts facilitate large, business-critical projects on a regular basis, so researching and learning from their latest strategies and best practices, and the ways in which they can be replicated for your own objectives, is a worthwhile exercise.

    Even if you have prior experience of CAFM requirements gathering, or are switching from existing software you helped implement, the market – and the technology available – is likely to have moved on since then.

    By approaching the task of gathering requirements from the perspective of a business analyst, you can borrow from their range of tried and tested methodologies, resulting in a better- organised, more efficient process, with clear timelines and justification for your activities – a solid foundation for your project.

    CAFM implementation will have similar milestones to business analysis outputs in the early stages, including:

    1. Gathering and categorising requirements from stakeholders.
    2. Analysing those requirements to remove repetition, irrelevance or inconsistencies.
    3. Aligning and prioritising them to critical success factors.
    4. Matching with product solutions in order to achieve goals.
    Classify your requirements.

    Categorise feedback during the requirements gathering process for optimal organisation effectiveness.

    If your requirements gathering process is to be truly effective, you need to categorise the feedback and input you receive.

    Sorting and grouping your organisational requirements will help with later prioritisation and planning; one simple approach is to divide requirements into ‘functional’ and ‘non-functional’ items.

    • Functional requirements are those that relate to specific tasks or services (such as sending welcome emails to new users).
    • Non-functional requirements are the system’s performance characteristics, such as security, scalability, and response time data, and can also include ‘soft’ requirements relating to user experience.

    Designing to and measuring against these criteria can be difficult, particularly when there are multiple stakeholders, languages and levels of technical understanding involved.

    Defining and classifying requirements is part of the role of the business analyst, as is keeping appropriate documentation. They may use a Functional Requirements Document (FRD) to reference the functional needs of a system, and create a Scope of Work (SoW) for more high-level goals and non-functional requirements. For a CAFM project, you will need to consider both.

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    Close any gaps between expectation and reality.

    An appreciation of the differences between requirements and how to deliver against them enables you dispel any misconceptions between what a stakeholder asks for and what can feasibly be delivered. The process of gathering your CAFM requirements is an opportunity for you to question and qualify requests, confirming how success should be defined, and relating that success to the broader goals and objectives of the organisation.

    Identify your critical success factors.

    Critical success factors represent your project’s purpose. Everything you do should be geared towards fulfilling these criteria: without them, the whole project could be at risk.

    Analysts use critical success factors (CSFs) to describe the features or activities that will define the competitive performance of an organisation. They are the ‘cause’, and KPIs are used to measure the effect. There are four types of CSF:

    1. Industry CSFs: relating to the market and competition
    2. Strategy CSFs: relating to the strategic plan of the business
    3. Environmental CSFs: relating to economic or technological factors
    4. Temporal CSFs: relating to the changing needs of the business

    These categories can provide a helpful framework for requirements gathering workshops, and referring to them will help keep discussions on track.

    Identify and analyse any challenges.

    A business analyst often needs to carry out a GAP analysis, which reveals the difference between where the organisation is today and where it wants to be tomorrow, and uncovers any obstacles preventing this potential from being achieved.

    Carrying out a GAP analysis can help you to achieve two crucial objectives:

    1. Identify any requirements that have not been uncovered.
    2. Demonstrate the true value of a CAFM system, justifying expenditure and accelerating buy-in across the organisation, by showing how the technology can be used to close the gap.

    Add meaningful value.

    Through adopting business analyst practices, FMs can position themselves alongside senior decision makers.

    Business analysts rely on robust processes to shape projects that will deliver the impact they need to move an organisation forward. By adopting some of these practices, FMs can position themselves alongside senior decision makers, providing insight and solutions to achieving short and long-term business goals.

    Working with an effective technology partner will allow you to develop a clear strategy for the initial stages of CAFM implementation: demonstrating the value of the facilities management function, and making a clear case for investment that will return significant results for the business.

    > Download your copy of Urgent’s eBook: Requirements gathering

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