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Are Facilitated Workshops Needed for Agile Business Analysis?

If you are a practicing or potential Digital Business Analyst, you should be interested in this question. The prime driver of Agile Business Analysis is the development of Lean Requirements. In that context, Lean Requirements are requirements developed to the appropriate level of detail at the last responsible moment. What does that mean for Facilitated Workshops?

Actually, Facilitated Workshops are strongly connected with a precursor philosophy to Agile, namely Joint Application Design (JAD). That philosophy was extremely popular in the 1980’s and into the early 1990’s (what I now call the “Pre-Agile Era”). The concept was to get a group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) together with Developers and Systems Analysts to define the Business Requirements. We then applied specific techniques to extrapolate Stakeholder Requirements from the defined Business Requirements. These business analysis techniques required considerable training for participants to be capable of producing the outcomes in a compressed time-frame.

As Agile blossomed, the name JAD had become jaded but the concept was still extremely powerful. To avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we started calling our workshops Requirements Discovery Workshops (RDW) and incorporated User Stories as a way of representing User Requirements. The fundamental focus of the RDW was Requirements Elicitation down to the Stakeholder Level which obviously involved getting and writing the requirements. On some projects, we were able to get down to the Solution Level Requirements which we documented in Use Cases.

If your organization uses Agile Teams including a Product Owner supported by a Business Side Team, a facilitated workshop is on of the quickest ways of getting digital solution requirements (functional and non-functional). It is also a powerful tool for communicating the importance of your initiative to the organization and potentially to the outside world.

If you are interested in learning more about our lean approach to initial requirements gathering (including User Story Workshops), check out our instructor-led course Facilitating Requirements Workshops or User Story Discovery Sessions. If you need this skillset for only one to four participants in your organization, you might also consider our Business Analysis Coaching and Mentoring offers. Finally, if you cannot wait to get the results from a professionally run Lean Requirements Workshop, we also offer facilitation services.

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