What Should You Ask to Elicit Software Requirements — Stakeholders

The Business Analysis Questions for Software Solutions: How To Gather Requirements Asking the Right Questions
The Business Analysis Questions for Software Solutions: How To Gather Requirements Asking the Right Questions

Anyone, any company, and any organization that is affected by and can affect the project, solution, or product is considered a stakeholder. It is the stakeholders who will open the demand, provide the requirements, accept or reject the solution, and use the final product. Therefore, you should start identifying stakeholders at the very beginning of the project.

A stakeholder is anyone who is affected by or influences the project. On the one hand, stakeholders are the most important sources of analysis information for us; on the other hand, they are people who need to be satisfied by meeting their expectations of commercial benefits. The vast majority of stakeholders have an expectation of the solution to be revealed, and this expectation needs to be best understood and managed.

In this article, I would like to share with you the section on stakeholder analysis from my book, The Business Analysis Questions for Software Solutions. I hope it helps you find the right stakeholders by asking the right questions in your business analysis. If you like the content, you can get my book with 29 titles like this and over 2000 sample questions at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09RDS5676.

Stakeholders can be classified in several ways. The most basic of these classifications is by function:

  • Business analysis information sources
  • Generators of business analysis information
  • Consumers of business analysis information

Sources of business analysis information are those from which job analysis information is retrieved that describe what the system should do and how it should do it. The stakeholders in this group are generally found under the following names:

  • Sponsor
  • Domain subject ma􀀥er expert
  • Product owner
  • Process owner
  • Product manager
  • End-user
  • Project manager
  • Supplier
  • Customer
  • Business relationship manager
  • Change leader
  • Line manager

Examples of answers you can get to questions about identifying stakeholders, determining their attitudes, and their impact on the project:

  • Consult with John Doe, Technology Services Security Manager, to determine access security requirements.
  • Work with the design firm XYZ on the web software.
  • The sponsor of the project is Jane Doe, the company’s sales manager.
  • The project is being developed using the agile method and has a product owner. He has not been officially appointed yet. It will be investigated who he is when appointed.
  • The so􀀢ware development team comprises 2 front-end and 1 back-end developer.
  • The process expert, John Doe, lives in another country so he will be contacted by video conference, phone, and email. Communica􀀘on times will be set according to the main location of the project.
  • Potential customers to be considered for the system’s subscription categories will be identified and customer/end-user requirements work will be conducted.
The Business Analysis Questions for Software Solutions: How To Gather Requirements Asking the Right Questions
The Business Analysis Questions for Software Solutions: How To Gather Requirements Asking the Right Questions

You can ask the following sample questions to get a general idea and high-level requirements analysis for working with stakeholders.

  • Who (others) can I ask to identify [the stakeholder in the stakeholder category]?
  • How can I reach out to [identified stakeholders]? From whom can I obtain contact information?
  • Who is the [stakeholder] responsible for the project? How can I meet with her/him?
  • How can I reach Jane Doe (quality assurance analyst)? Who can I get contact information from?
  • Who will make the request?
  • Who will accept or reject the project outputs?
  • Who will commission the product that emerges after the project and who will maintain it?
  • Who will provide user support for the so􀀢ware?
  • Are there documents from which you can obtain information about the project, the solution, and the product? If so, from whom can they be obtained?
  • Who will enter data into the system?
  • Who will receive information/reports from the system?
  • What other systems will the system interact with?
  • Who/for whom will the system be developed?
  • What is the location structure of the stakeholders? Are they all in the same location? Are there stakeholders in different locations (city, country, continent)?
  • Are there stakeholders from different cultures, speaking different languages? If so, who are they?
  • Are there stakeholders from different 􀀘time zones? If so, who and where are they?
  • Are there stakeholders with special circumstances? If so, what are the special circumstances? (Hearing loss, visual impairment, illness/quarantine, etc.)
  • Do stakeholders have the necessary contact information?

Sponsor:

The sponsor is the one who provides the financial support for the project and makes the final decision on whether to accept the project. You can ask the following sample questions to determine the sponsor.

  • Who has the authority to set the scope, budget, and other constraints of the project or solution?
  • Who has the final say on controversial issues related to the project?
  • Who is the last person who will accept or reject the outcome of the project?
  • Who will accept the proposed requirements, features, and scope?
  • Who will decide about the project?
  • Who is the last person, the most competent entity to whom the project and the system will be presented?
  • Who will approve the project’s budget?

Regulator:

You can use the following sample questions to find sources of legal, regulatory, or compliance-based requirements that might affect the project or solution.

  • Is there a law or standard that the developed system must comply with? If so, who is the point of contact?
  • Is there an agreement that the developed system must comply with? If so, who is the point of contact?
  • Is there an agreement that needs to be addressed in terms of compliance with the project?
  • Is there a legal department within the company that can provide input or influences the legal situation for software projects? If so, who can be contacted in this regard?
  • Are there any standards or guidelines organization within the company? If yes, who can be contacted there?
  • Is there a law, regulation, agreement, or standard that the developed system must comply with? If so, who is the appropriate contact?

End-user:

You can ask the following sample questions to find the stakeholders who will use the software that is the result of the project.

  • Who will use the system?
  • Who will use the system’s screens, reports, and functions?
  • Who will enter data into the system?
  • Who will use the system to generate reports?
  • Who will retrieve information from the system?
  • Who will actively use the system?

Operational Support:

You can ask the following sample questions to identify the stakeholders you will work with to get user support requirements after the product is launched.

  • Who will define the new user? How will it be managed?
  • Who will handle the existing users’ requests, complaints, and issues related to their actions with the solution?
  • From whom can we learn the software support expectations of the solution?

IT Service Providers:

You can ask the following sample questions to identify the stakeholders you will work with to meet the requirements for deploying the solution and ongoing maintenance.

  • Who will deploy the software?
  • Who will ensure that the software runs smoothly during ongoing operations?
  • Who can we get the system, network, and security requirements for the software from?
  • Who will take care of the software after it goes live?
  • What are the response times for maintenance support? (SLA)
  • Who will support the software?
  • Who will commission the software?
  • What are the warranty period and maintenance requirements after the software is commissioned?

Domain Subject Matter Expert (Domain SME):

You can ask the following sample questions to identify the stakeholders you will work with to get requirements for the processes, workflows, business rules, etc. that the product will automate.

  • From whom can we get information about business processes and business rules?
  • Who will determine how the functions will work in the system?
  • Who needs to be contacted by which entities to operate the system?
  • To whom will we determine what information we need to get from users in what processes?
  • From whom can we get reporting requirements?
  • Who are the process owners?
  • From whom can we learn the system’s formulas, computation, definitions, and constraints?

Product Owner:

Tries to achieve the best result within the project by looking at the product with a holistic view. You can ask the following sample questions to identify the product owner that has come into our lives with the agile project management culture.

  • Will there be an owner of the solution/product that will emerge as a result of the project? If so, who is it?
  • Will the project be delivered using an agile approach? If yes, is there a role for a product owner? If yes, who is it?
  • Does the company have a product management culture for services and solutions? If yes, who is the manager of the new product being developed?

Business Relationship Managers (BRMs):

BRM is a role that, in large companies, ensures that the various business units can communicate effectively with each other and conduct business in the best possible way. If your company has a BRM role, you will probably need to work with one or more of them on your project. You can ask the following sample questions to help you determine which BRMs you will be working with.

  • Does the company have a function that coordinates communication and works between departments? If so, who or what people should you work with regarding the project you are working on?
  • Is there a BRM role in the company? If so, who are the BRMs involved in this project?

Portfolio, Program, and Project Manager:

You can use the following sample questions to determine the portfolio, profile, or project manager you are working with.

  • Who will lead the project?
  • Who will lead the system improvement project?
  • Which of the following roles are involved in the project? Who is the person charged with this role? (Project Manager, Program Manager, Portfolio Manager, Scrum Master, Kanban Coach)
The Business Analysis Questions for Software Solutions: How To Gather Requirements Asking the Right Questions
The Business Analysis Questions for Software Solutions: How To Gather Requirements Asking the Right Questions

Solution Providers:

Roles such as developer, database developer, UX expert, UI designer, the trainer are those who develop the solution to be disclosed as a result of the project. You can ask the following sample questions to identify the stakeholders who will do this work in your project.

  • Who will develop and create the software, solution, and system that will be revealed?
  • Who will do the coding?
  • Who will develop the database?
  • Who will design the interfaces?
  • Who will do the usability work?
  • Who will produce the content? (If content production is part of the project scope).
  • Who will determine the solution’s architectural model, technologies to be used, and other tools?
  • Who will develop and build the software, solution, and system to be unveiled?
  • Who takes care of the programming?
  • Who will develop the database?
  • Who will design the interfaces?
  • Have all the stakeholders involved in the project been identified?
  • Which stakeholder will perform which development process? (Coding, database work, interface, etc.).
  • Who will technically implement the solution?

Quality Assurance Experts and Testers:

You can ask the following sample questions to identify the stakeholders who will perform the various types and levels of testing of the system.

  • Who will perform the functional testing of the software?
  • Who will perform the security and performance testing of the software?
  • Who will perform the usability testing of the software?
  • Who will perform acceptance testing of the software? Who will perform the acceptance testing?
  • Will test automation be performed in the software? If so, who will perform it?
  • Who will monitor compliance with quality standards during software development?
  • Who will test the software?
  • Who will accept the software?
  • Who will perform the acceptance testing?

Customer:

If the resulting product is developed for the company’s customers (e.g., game, operating system, antivirus program) and not for internal stakeholders, you can ask the following sample questions to identify the end customers.

  • Who will buy the software and system?
  • Who will use the solution as a customer?
  • Has any field/market research been conducted for customers? If so, who can we talk to about the results?
  • Is there a department in the company that represents customers? If so, who can we contact regarding this project?
  • Who will purchase the software and system?
  • Who will use the solution as a customer?

Supplier:

Other companies that are outside the boundaries of the company, support the company with products and/or services are called suppliers. If you will be working with a vendor on your project, you can use the sample questions below.

  • Are there any suppliers that you will be working with on the work and transactions in the project? If so, who are they?
  • Will outside support, products, or consulting be procured during the project development process? If so, which ones and from whom?
  • Will the project need to work with any of the following roles?

(Other) Business Analysts:

If there are other business analysts involved in the project, you can ask the following sample questions to identify them.

  • Will there be more than one analyst on the project? If so, who will they be?
  • Will there be a separate analyst for data-related issues? Who will that be?
  • Will there be an instance where you are working with any of the following roles on the project?

Other Business Analysis Information Resources:

You can ask the following sample questions to find out what can be used as a source for requirements other than those listed above.

  • Who can be contacted for transition requirements for project commissioning?
  • Who will receive the training requirements?
  • Who will provide the training?
  • Who needs to be consulted for the training environment and conditions?
  • Are there current and valid documents that can be used to obtain the project requirements? If available, from whom can we obtain them?
  • Are there suppliers with whom the company where the system is being developed is working to implement the work? If so, who are they?
The Business Analysis Questions for Software Solutions: How To Gather Requirements Asking the Right Questions
The Business Analysis Questions for Software Solutions: How To Gather Requirements Asking the Right Questions

Conclusion

Of course, the questions you need to ask to identify stakeholders may vary by project, institution, and context. But these questions will give you a head start and lay the groundwork for the next questions you should ask. Over time, you will also create your own questions to conduct a more effective stakeholder analysis.
If you like the content, you can get my book with 29 titles like this and over 2000 sample questions at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09RDS5676.

Thank you.

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