meet user needs, user requirements

Five elicitation techniques to meet user needs

- Updated March 12, 2018


meet user needs, user requirements


The user always comes first. In software development, user requirements are objectives the software product has to achieve. That’s why, each company should at first do a quality business analysis in order to meet user needs.

The business analyst plays the role of a detective here, identifying the proper requirement techniques and combining them for optimal results. The analyst should carefully determine who is included in the requirements definition process, especially the key stakeholders.

In this article we talk about five analysis techniques which facilitate the work of a business analysts and are prior to each software development process:

  1. Interviews
  2. JAD sessions
  3. Questionnaires
  4. Document analysis
  5. Observation

We’ll talk about each of them separately.


  1. Interviews

Generally, interviews are conducted one-on-one, but of course, there are some exceptions. So, the first thing you have to determine is:

Who will be interviewed?

Know your target. Getting the right answer means asking the right questions to the right people. And that’s what makes a successful interview.

People at different levels of the organization will have different viewpoints on the system, so it is important to include both managers of the processes and staff who actually perform the processes to gain high-level and low-level perspectives on the issue.

Also, note that the list will grow. While interviewing, the people you identified as key ones, will suggest other people they consider are important to software development.

What to ask?

Designing the interviewing questions is crucial in the analysis process. The answers you get depend on the questions you ask.

If you are any familiar with market research, you probably already know how to design closed-ended questions and open-ended questions.  The types of questions depend on the information you want to get from your target audience.


When thinking about your questions, you’d want to think about whether it’s better to do a structured or an unstructured interview. Our advice – you better do a structured one.

More tips:
Schedule your interviews;
Take notes during the interview;
Take notes as a follow up on the interview.


  1. Joint Application Development (JAD)

JAD sessions enable the users and key stakeholders to work together and create a shared understanding of the possibilities for the to-be system. They are some kind of focus groups.

JAD characteristics:

  • U-shaped discussion;
  • Number of participants: 10 to 20 members;
  • Leading person: Facilitator (mediator) and two scribes assisting.
  • Duration: Half day to several weeks.

Analysts should plan JAD sessions very carefully, since they should follow certain rules and a proper agenda. The business analyst should also take follow up notes, afterwards, or record it for more details.

They can also conduct JAD sessions virtually, with the help of technology. Electronic JAD are conducted in an e-JAD meeting room. Here, each participant uses a special software connected in a network. That way, participants can anonymously submit ideas, view all ideas generated by the group, and rate and rank ideas through voting. The main advantage of this approach is its anonymous approach, contrary to how physical JAD groups function.


  1. Questionnaires

Questionnaires are written questions sent to a big amount of audience. Their advantage lays in the fact that they are sent to a larger group of users or potential users and they get a broad range of opinions.

Nowadays, the most common approach is to do them electronically, in electronic form, either via e-mail or on the Web.

Selecting participants is the first step. Ask the question: To whom should you send the questionnaire? The standard approach is to select a sample, or subset, of people who are representative of the entire group. To get a better accuracy of answers, choose a relevant representative sample. These are the people, with relevant knowledge and understanding of the problem, so their experience with it is relevant to the experience of the entire population.

Most questionnaires done on the web have an included reporting option in them, so you don’t have to measure results manually.


  1. Document Analysis

Document analysis is done by analyzing different kinds of paper reports, memorandums, forms, reports, policy manuals, organization charts which should tell a story about the product or organization.

But, they represent only the formal system that the organization. Quite often, the “real,” or informal system differs a lot and gives strong indications of what needs to be changed.


  1. Observation

Observation is the act of watching people while they perform a certain action. It is a powerful tool to gain insight into the as-is system.

Also, please keep in mind that people are extremely careful in their behavior when they know someone is watching them. So sometimes, what analysts observe may not be the normal day-to-day routine. Observation is most efficient when the group you’re observing doesn’t notice the observation at all.


Read more about business analysis here.

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