One of the main tasks of a business analyst is requirements elicitation, which represents about 30% of the business analysis life cycle. This process’s main objective is fact finding, obtain information from stakeholders with active listening and asking good questions.
Defining the scope of the requirements accurately is a crucial task within the elicitation process. It is a base of actually starting to complete your elicitation to start requirements specification process. Defining the scope is all about setting the boundaries of the system needed to be developed. The scope comprises those aspects that can be changed and designed during system development. At the same time, it is also defined which aspects belong to the environment and thus cannot be altered during development and may provide constraints for the system to be developed.
Defining the scope is like any other task, each has its own challenges. For the scope, there is a popular challenge called “Scope Creep”.
Scope creep is what happens when your project experiences uncontrolled changes and increases beyond its original mission which can also cause extra time and cost. Simply, it is when the stakeholders keep adding features and needs, changing the requirements, or they don’t know what they want. This can involve several risks and negative impacts on a project as the project may be derailed in terms of timelines and may exceed the budget.
One of the best-proposed solutions to avoid scope creep that I personally found:
- Understand the project scope: It pays to understand the real business need, higher-level goals, and business objectives of a project. The Big picture helps the BA to get a clear understanding the project scope, which in turn brings clarity on the requirements that are inclusive to the project.
- Document requirements exhaustively: While documenting explicit requirements can be a cakewalk, gathering implicit requirements are tough nuts to crack for a business analyst. In this case, a business analyst could employ well-known techniques like Use case modeling, Prototyping, observation etc to effectively gather the assumed and unstated requirements of the client.
- Educate the client about the change control procedures: A BA could educate the client on not to rush during requirements gathering stage and thereby making the client realize the perils of uncontrolled scope changes. He/She could also appraise the client about Change control procedures and appropriately warn the client about the additional costs associated with a Change Request.
- Trace the requirements: Performing effective Requirements Traceability helps in identifying those features/functionalities that are of value can be traced to a business benefit thus helping in weeding out any extraneous features and in identifying any dependencies.
Any change to scope needs to be handled with caution and supported by an impact analysis followed by a cost benefit analysis. As the fallout of this analysis, a change may or may not be accepted. However, any change with no impact on time and budget rendering huge business benefit to a client can be accepted.