I called a Subject Matter Expert recently to schedule a meeting to discuss her business requirements for a new product.
She replied that she was about as excited about that meeting as she was about scheduling an invasive, minor medical procedure she needed since she just turned 50.
She got me thinking that she had a point. There are a lot of similarities between a requirements discovery meeting or workshop and a colonoscopy. Consider the following:
Commonalities between Requirements Definition and Colonoscopy
Requirements discovery meetings and workshops are invasive because they are just looking for trouble. There may not be anything wrong, but your friendly Business Analyst insists that she needs this procedure to make sure. It’s purely preemptive. That’s what they all say. It’s essential to your business’s health and well-being (sound familiar?).
Both the medical procedure and the requirements session depend on the expertise of highly skilled and trained professionals to succeed. After all, you don’t want just any bozo illuminating areas that are not designed for visible inspection, do you?
In both cases, the upfront preparations are unpleasant and conjure up feelings of dread as soon as you start to discuss the possibility. Your discomfort is understandable. I mean, you are preparing to reveal things you have been holding back in the interest of exposing a brighter future.
Technology to the Rescue
Five years ago, I read that they had invented a camera that would replace both the colonoscopy (bottom up analysis) and endoscopy (the top-down equivalent). The camera is a pill that you just swallow. It takes pictures of your entire digestive tract as it passes through.
Apparently, the camera uses some wireless protocol to transmit pictures to a medical professional’s smart phone or tablet. Or maybe it sends the pics directly through the infamous Internet to make sure they are available to the entire network of medical professionals (along with the equally unqualified hackers, spies, and assorted governmental agencies listening in; shout out to the NSA for finally getting the inside scoop!)
Leveraging Lessons Learned
Now that camera is what I as a business analyst want so I can avoid getting into all those messy details in a face-to-face conversation with a SME. If I had that, I would have so much more information about what the organization really needs and would have to make a lot fewer assumptions. At least then I would really know that the requirements I flush out are based on reality.
In the end (pun intended), I guess the SME really was right. Business analysis is a corporate colonoscopy – administered without an anesthetic.