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Facilitating a Requirements Validation Meeting with Ease!

~ By Dana Brownlee

Business people looking at their leader while he explains something on whiteboard

The Problem: Ensuring that a requirements document is accurate, complete and fully supported by key stakeholders can be critically important. Unfortunately, requirements validation sessions can be protracted and challenging. Oftentimes, the goal of the session is to gain agreement among various stakeholders on a lengthy, detailed requirements document. This can certainly be a tall order, but it can be done!

Consider these suggestions:

  • Ensure that all key stakeholders are present at the session. Oftentimes, senior managers or other extended team members will participate in this important session. Ensure that the meeting is on their schedule far in advance.
  • Conduct pre-meetings with relevant functional groups to work out the details, review appendices, etc. Ideally, there should be no major surprises at the validation meeting.
  • Ensure everyone comes to the meeting prepared by expressing the importance of each person reviewing the document in detail. Give the group a choice of whether to review the document in detail during the session (two days offsite) or review it individually offline and only conduct a high level review and discuss questions during the validation session (2-3 hours). Most groups will opt for the shorter meeting.
  • Ask participants to send their questions three days prior to the session and follow up with anyone who has not sent their questions by the stated due date.
  • At the beginning of the meeting ask each person to introduce themselves and their role in case there are new faces in the room. Also, provide a high level overview of the project before getting into any detailed requirements discussion to ensure everyone has appropriate context.
  • Define any assumptions or acronyms at the beginning of the meeting to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Assign specific SMEs to lead the discussion for individual sections of the document.
  • Ask for a volunteer to be the timekeeper and another to document key decisions or action items on a whiteboard or flip chart.
  • Ensure that the requirements document is well organised with prioritised requirements.
  • Post IEEE standards for well formed requirements (Accurate, Consistent, Complete, Traceable, Prioritised, Unambiguous, Modifiable, Verifiable and Testable) on the wall (or on a slide if using collaborative software). As you review individual requirements, ensure that each requirement meets this checklist.
  • Document traceability within the document and across documents.
  • Let participants know that signatures will be expected at the conclusion of the meeting. Ensure that participants sign the document on behalf of their organisation.

Dana Brownlee is President of Professionalism Matters, Inc. a boutique professional development corporate training firm. Her latest publications are "Are You Running a Meeting or Drowning in Chaos?" and "5 Secrets to Virtually Cut Your Meeting Time in Half!" She can be reached at danapbrownlee@professionalismmatters.com


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