Mastering the Requirements Process

Two days to transform your requirements discovery

Traditional or agile requirements? It doesn’t matter – unless the product solves the right business problem, it has no use. Your requirements process must discover the customer’s real business problem in all its subtlety and concealment.

This workshop presents a thorough and well-established process for uncovering the real requirements, testing them for correctness, and recording them clearly, completely, and unambiguously. The process is used by both agile and traditional projects.

“The continual use of real examples and experience made it all come to life. The best course I have ever attended. All questions were answered, and none dodged”. — Wes Mar, Senior Analyst, Insurance Australia Group

This workshop shows you how to precisely define the scope of the business problem, to discover and involve the appropriate stakeholders, to use prototyping and other modern techniques to learn what the business really needs, to innovate and find better ways to do the work, to communicate effectively and to write testable, unambiguous requirements and stories.

You will learn how to:

  • Determine the real needs of your client
  • Use prototypes and sketches to rapidly explore the problem space
  • Uncover the essence of the business and its real requirements
  • Write requirements that are complete, unambiguous, and testable
  • Write agile stories that are more effective and accurate
  • Understand the role of the business analyst in agile projects
  • Use a story map for more controlled development
  • Understand the need for (and how to write) both functional and non-functional requirements
  • Precisely define the scope of the project
  • Get the requirements quickly, and incrementally
  • Discover the right requirements and stories

Is This for Me?

Yes, if you want to be involved in delivering the right systems—the ones that get used. Your title is probably business analystproduct owner, systems analyst, project leader or manager, requirements engineer, consultant, product or program manager or similar. Team members on agile projects benefit from understanding how requirements are done in agile projects.

“Absolutely fantastic course, will be extremely useful for me.”  — Leanne O’Connor, Application Development Officer, Mt. Eliza Business School

Users, software customers and business stakeholders have found that this course equips them to participate more effectively in the requirements process, and so ensure that the end solution matches what they really need.

What will I learn? What will I be better at?

The Requirements Process
A quick look at the activities of finding the right requirements, and a short workshop to illustrate the problem.

Project Blastoff
The Blastoff builds a foundation for the requirements project by establishing its Scope-Stakeholder-Goals. It gives you the precise scope of the business area to be studied; a testable goal for the project; and using stakeholder maps, you identify all the sources of requirements. Additionally, the Blastoff ensures the project is viable and worthwhile.

Trawling for Requirements
We show you the most effective techniques to discover exactly what the customers need, and want.

This section introduces the essence of the problem, how to see the real need and not some assumed solution. It also introduces the brown cow model that gives the business analyst different ways of thinking about the problem, and allows the real problem to emerge.

“The course not only treated the technical aspects but also the softer subjects in requirements gathering like psychological aspects”.  — Ron Buskens, Oce Technologies

Prototyping for Requirements
Here we use simulations of candidate solutions to explore the problem space, determine that we are solving the right problem, and find imaginative solutions. Multiple candidates are quickly produced which eliminate the assumed solution and provide the right direction for the product.

Functional Requirements
Functional requirements are those things the product must do. You discover them by understanding the real work of the organisation, and determining what part of that work the automated product can best do. The automated product is specified using well-formed functional requirements.

Non-functional Requirements
Non-functional requirements are properties the product must have, such as the desired look and feel, usability, performance, cultural, conformance, and so on. This section demonstrates the importance of discovering the non-functional requirements, and shows you how to use the template, and other methods, to find these qualitative requirements for your product.

Requirements for Agile Projects
Requirements are equally important for agile projects, but you go about them differently if your solution is to match the real business needs. Effective agile projects understand that there are two parts: Discovery and Delivery. Discovery involves understanding the real work and the real problem to be solved to deliver the value proposition. It uses business stories to communicate the Discovery findings. Delivery focuses on development of the product and here we see how a story map provides the best guide to the product under development. We also demonstrate how to write better, more effective stories.

“It was a great pleasure for all of us to take part in this training. James is very professional, training materials are great, and we all enjoyed the three days. It was also very inspiring for every Wargamer who was there and I know we will improve our work using what we learned.”  — Tatiana Labkovich, Wargaming

Your Requirements Process
You discuss and determine how to make your own requirements process as effective and efficient as possible. This involves incorporating your own organisational processes into the requirements activities. You build a demonstration of how you will use what you have learned when you return to your own workplace.

“The course is grounded in the real world of requirements elicitation. It measures excellently.” — John Purssey, ProQual Consulting.


We want you to use this right away. Each of the key teaching chapters is reinforced with a workshop where you apply the concepts presented in the seminar. Participants work in teams to discover, specify and evaluate requirements for a significant system by:

  • Defining the project’s scope, its goals and the relevant stakeholders
  • Identifying business events, business use cases and product use cases
  • Evaluating candidate prototypes to find hidden requirements
  • Defining functional and non-functional requirements
  • Writing better stories
  • Deriving the fit criterion, or measurement, for the requirements

There’s More . . .

  • Your instructor is not an “announcer”. He or she is a practicing business analyst who also happens to be an excellent instructor.
  • The course is written to show real-world situations and provide real-world solutions. You will be able to relate your own work situation to the course.
  • You can discuss your own requirements issues with your instructor.
  • The course teaches that requirements come from understanding the business and its internal processes, and how the business interacts with its external customers.
  • The course provides a realistic framework for requirements discovery, not a strict methodology. The framework provides the freedom and encouragement to adapt to your own organisational needs.
  • The techniques are applicable regardless of your development method – agile, traditional, or anything else.
  • Teaching chapters are reinforced with hands-on workshops.
  • The Volere requirements knowledge model which ensures you collect the right information, and the right amount of it.
  • You receive the Volere Requirements Specification Template (downloaded over 20,000 times) with advice on how to make this your own template.
  • You receive a free copy of Suzanne and James Robertson’s book Mastering the Requirements Process—Third Edition: Getting Requirements Right.

Learning from Experience

This course was written by James Robertson and Suzanne Robertson, creators of the Volere requirements techniques, and delivered by Adrain Reed of Backmetric Busienss Solutions.

“Excellent! Great delivery from experienced business analysts (not a “trainer”) with up to date work practices and examples.” — Sandra Pilgrim, CGU Insurance.

Adrian Reed, that’s him in the video above, is a true advocate of the business analysis profession, and its importance to organisations. Adrian is Principal Consultant and Director at Blackmetric Business Solutions where he provides business analysis consultancy and training solutions to a range of clients in varying industries. He is a Past President of the UK chapter of the IIBA® and he speaks internationally on topics relating to business analysis and business change.

Adrian is an influential author. He wrote Be a Great Problem Solver… Now and Business Analyst: Careers in business analysis  He is also co-author for Business Analysis Techniques: 123 essential tools for success.

You can read Adrian’s blog at Follow Adrian on Twitter @UKAdrianReed and LinkedIn.

Suzanne Robertson is co-author of Mastering the Requirements Process, Third Edition: Getting Requirements Right (Addison-Wesley 2012) a book that provides guidance on finding requirements and writing them so that all the stakeholders can understand them. Her other requirements book, Requirements-Led Project Management (Addison-Wesley 2005) addresses how to use requirements as input to planning and management. She is also co-author of the Volere approach to requirements engineering.

She has more than 30 years experience in systems specification and building. Her courses on requirements, systems analysis, design and problem solving are well known for their innovative workshops and practical applicability. Current work includes research and consulting on finding and involving the right stakeholders, the building of requirements knowledge models and running audits for assessing requirements specifications. She is a principal and founder of The Atlantic Systems Guild and is founding editor of the Requirements column in IEEE Softwaremagazine.

James Robertson is a consultant, teacher, author, project leader whose area of concern is the requirements for products, and the contribution that good requirements make to successful projects. James is a leading proponent of the principle of introducing creativity into the requirements process. His controversial article “Eureka: Why Analysts Should Invent Requirements” in IEEE Software has provoked heated discussion and has been widely quoted. Before becoming a systems engineer, James trained as an architect and his experience in that profession provides inspiration for his work on innovation and creativity. He is co-author of Mastering the Requirements Process, Third Edition (Addison-Wesley 2012), Requirements-Led Project Management (Addison-Wesley 2005), the Volere approach to requirements engineering, and Complete Systems Analysis: the Workbook, the Textbook, the Answers (Dorset House, 1994), a two-volume text and case study that teaches the craft of systems analysis.

Join the Move to Better Requirements

If you want to join the elite band of software developers whose systems are used-and enthusiastically used-then come and participate when one of the industry’s most respected names explains how you can get the most value from your requirements gathering activities.

It will take two days out of your schedule, and we will give them back to you with interest (think how much extensive modification and abandoned systems cost you). We know that when you use a better requirements process, you will save months of maintenance effort, be more responsive to user requests, and avoid building systems that end up as shelfware.

Note there is a special three-day version with more workshops and material. This is available upon request. Please contact your agent.

Find out how you can gather requirements that deliver your systems earlier, and ensure that they are used, and useful.

Please note that this course is run by Blackmetric Business Solutions Ltd, in partnership with the course authors, the Atlantic Systems Guild.

Blackmetric is an endorsed education provider of IIBA.  The course provides 21 hours of IIBA endorsed Professional Development or Continuing Development.



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For more information …

For information about in-house or public courses, consulting or other services, contact us or your nearest agent. Scheduled public courses are shown in the Volere events column of the Home page.