It’s a common scenario. You’re on your way home from work when your spouse sends you a text message to pick up some milk, orange juice, and bread on your way home (of course you read the text while you’re at a stop light, not while you’re driving – but that’s the subject for another blog). You stop, pick up the items, and even remember to use your shopper rewards card. You arrive home and as you unpack the items, your spouse looks at the orange juice when you remove it from the bag and says, “honey, that’s not the one I wanted.”

So where did you go wrong? Orange juice was requested, and you came home with orange juice. But it was not the right kind of orange juice. We didn’t get into enough detail. It’s hard to believe, but there are many requirements for orange juice alone. Let’s see what we can come up with. Pulp, Extra Calcium, Container, Brand, Price, Coupon, Juice Blend, Expiration Date (i.e. “Manager’s Special”), Vitamin C Added, Fresh/Concentrate, Sale, Size, Buy 1 Get 1 Free, Orange Origin (from Florida, etc.), Generic, Store. There may be more, but I’m not an expert on orange juice!

So what happened? As the purchaser of the orange juice (the BA in this scenario), we did not define the requirements for the requested item. The stakeholder (our spouse) had an idea in mind when requesting the item, and we had a different idea in mind when  it came time for the solution (the purchase). This is the expectation your spouse had. With all of the requirements surrounding orange juice, we could satisfy several of them and still bring home the wrong product. Believe it or not, there are even business rules surrounding orange juice: “By brand X, unless brand Y is on sale.”,”If you have a coupon for Brand X, but the generic is less expensive even after applying the coupon, purchase the generic OJ.”,”Get it from Store A because we stack all of our points there to get the gas rewards.” And even if you think you know your stakeholder and can correctly purchase the item without understanding the requirements, “I know I have been buying Brand Y for three months now, but I’m sick of it and I was planning on switching this week. Remember when I told you one morning over breakfast as you were running out to work?”

Bottom line, when doing business analysis, we need to completely understand what our stakeholders are requesting so that we can meet or exceed their expectations. The more we guess or the more we make assumptions about what our stakeholders want, the more chance we have of getting it wrong or not providing what they thought they wanted or what they had as an expectation. We have to fully and completely define what the stakeholders want so we deliver something they can use.

How many times have you not fully defined a requirement and made assumptions about the solution? How many times did that not satisfy the stakeholder’s request?

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