Write better requirements

Do you ever find yourself wondering if you got a particular requirement “right”? Or agonizing over how to best address vague stakeholder feedback on your requirements? Or perhaps you’ve only created informal documentation and would like to create a more formal requirements specification or more accurate acceptance criteria for an agile project like a skilled business analyst would.

A panicked email received from a BA who learned the hard way that you don’t become skilled at requirements documentations by simply reading books or passing a certification exam.

To address these challenges and more, Adriana Beal has designed Crafting Better Requirements – a 2-month, hands-on coaching program that will help you improve either your traditional or agile requirements definition, documentation, and communication.

 

Adriana has offered this program since 2011 and participants continually report gaining skills confidence in their requirements definition, documentation, and communication. And that confidence has led to new job opportunities for many, and more elevated BA roles for others.

Investment: $1,297

Classes will start again in January 2018 – ensure you don’t miss the opportunity to join by getting into our waiting list.

Praise for Crafting Better Requirements

Agile Track

Adriana’s timely and elaborate suggestions throughout this course have been a great help to me. I have been a software developer for the past 8 years and wanted to transition into a Business Analyst role. The components I learnt as part of this course helped me with my interview process. I am glad to let you know that I was interviewing for the past few weeks and I am starting my BA career tomorrow with a new employer.
– Priya

Being involved in a high profile agile project at work lead to challenges I had yet to experience in my experience with traditional waterfall methodologies and led me to the course. Adriana helped me to understand key concepts of the agile approach while providing a lot of background context outside of the course itself. Responses to questions and assignments were knowledgeable, prompt and provided immediate value that I could deliver to my project. I would highly recommend this track to anyone involved in an agile project!
– Michael

Traditional Track

Adriana’s instruction/supervision of my online training for “Crafting Better Requirements” was outstanding. Despite my broad experience as Business Analyst, Adriana deepened my understanding and expanded my skill through the thoroughness of her interaction with me.
– Dan Shumaker

Adriana’s feedback has been very thorough and helpful. It has not only helped me learn how to write better requirements, it has also given me glimpses into the uncertainties and messiness in the “real life” of a BA (I am currently working as a Technical Writer even though I have the job title of BA). It is much appreciated.
– Linda Q.

Program details

The Crafting Better Requirements program includes two separate tracks with six lessons each – one for traditional requirements documentation, like detailed functional specifications, and one for agile requirements documentation, like product backlogs and user stories.

When you join the program, you’ll receive access to the reference materials from both tracks. And then you decide which track to work through during your coaching with Adriana. You are expected to spend three hours a week working on your assignments. The program is designed to last for 6-8 weeks to allow time for you to reflect on the feedback received before continuing to practice and improve.

Traditional Track

The Traditional Track is perfect for business analysts who create Software Requirements Specifications (SRSs) or Business Requirements Documents (BRDs) and are looking to improve their existing documentation. It’s also perfect for those who are currently using ad hoc documentation, and looking to formalize the kind of documentation they use to specify requirements.

You’ll learn how to create a formal requirements specification that is well-organized, avoids the most common requirements mistakes, and includes the right mix of textual and visual models.

LESSON 1 – Requirements Overview

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Describe what requirements are, and where they fit in the grand scheme.
  2. Identify types of requirements and levels of abstractions in which requirements can be communicated.
  3. Distinguish between requirement and design constraint.

LESSON 2 – Requirements Packages

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Describe the difference in requirements documentation between agile and traditional approaches to software development.
  2. Explain the purpose of a requirements document.
  3. Identify the most common types of requirements packages.

LESSON 3 – Writing Better Requirements

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Use appropriate language to describe requirements.
  2. Identify the main problems found in requirements statements.
  3. Apply effective techniques to ensure your requirements are free from defects.

LESSON 4 – Creating and Using Requirements Patterns

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Explain what a requirements pattern is.
  2. Create and adapt requirements patterns for particular uses.
  3. Use requirements patterns to improve the quality of your requirements statements.

LESSON 5 – Visual Requirements Models

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Describe various graphical models that can be used to visually represent requirements.
  2. Identify appropriate modeling techniques based on the characteristics of the requirements.
  3. Apply visual models to augment textual requirements.

LESSON 6 – Organizing Requirements

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Organize requirements in meaningful ways (e.g., around relevant processes, solution components, or user goals).
  2. Apply the various concepts learned during the program to produce high-quality requirements documents.
  3. Create one or more types of requirements packages (based on your choice of documentation, including any combination of BRD, SRS, set of use cases, set of user stories accompanied by supplementary requirements and/or acceptance criteria, and other models available in the program reading material).

“I enrolled in Crafting Better Requirements based on a competency gap that I discovered. The biggest surprise of the course for me came during the last lesson when we turned our attention from “textual requirements” to “visual requirements” and I realized that was exactly where I wanted to take my new BA career. I’m now in a Process Analyst role and even though I don’t write requirements, I use a lot of what I learned from Adriana in Crafting Better Requirements to create various process documents. I also know that should my current role expand to include writing textual requirements, I can do it with confidence and success“. – Laura Lentz

Agile Track

The Agile Track is perfect for business analysts are looking to expand their skills to include user stories, product backlogs, and other agile requirements techniques. You’ll learn best practices for documenting requirements and managing the requirements process in an agile environment.

LESSON 1 – Requirements Overview

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Describe what requirements and user stories are, and where they fit in the grand scheme of software projects.
  2. Explain the difference between requirements documentation and communication in agile vs. traditional projects.
  3. Explain the relationships between the following concepts: user story, use case, scenario, requirement.

LESSON 2 – Crafting User Stories

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Describe the template of a user story and its most common variations.
  2. Identify examples of good and bad user stories.
  3. Describe the attributes of a good user story.

LESSON 3 – Documenting Requirements in the Context of User Stories

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Create acceptance criteria for user stories as means to document and communicate detailed requirements.
  2. Handle non-functional requirements and technical tasks in projects built around user stories.
  3. Define User Acceptance Tests to validate proper functioning of the software, emulating real-world usage conditions.

LESSON 4 – Managing the Product Backlog

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Describe how to build and manage a product backlog.
  2. Describe how to estimate and prioritize user stories in the backlog.
  3. Understand the process of right-sizing user stories.

LESSON 5 – Practicing User Stories and Acceptance Criteria

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of how to transform stakeholders needs and wants into user stories.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of how to document non-functional requirements and technical tasks in projects built around user stories.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of how to create acceptance criteria and user acceptance testing for a user story.

LESSON 6 – Practicing User Story Prioritization and Visual Representations

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate how to prioritize user stories in the backlog.
  2. Demonstrate how to right-size user stories to fit into individual development cycles.
  3. Demonstrate how to use visual models to clarify the overall vision in agile projects.

Improve your requirements skills
by leaps and bounds
with Adriana’s constructive feedback

Adriana has done this before and she’s been thinking about improving requirements for a long, long time. You couldn’t ask for a better instructor or one-on-one mentor.

In fact, for many years now, she’s been quietly developing strategies in pursuit of better requirements. As part of her journey as a consultant, Adriana has worked with numerous C-level executives, senior managers, SMEs, designers, developers, UXers, and testers on high-complexity software projects.

This is good news for you. She gets what you do and knows the challenges that both novice and experienced BAs face in the process of creating requirements documents that remove barriers to communication and correctly describe the properties that a software application must meet to ensure the product achieves its mission. And now she wants to help you excel at producing high-quality requirements documentation.

As a Crafting Better Requirements participant, you’ll receive direct access to Adriana Beal via email. As you go through each lesson, you’ll submit your work, and receive feedback within 2 business days. This is the kind of objective and constructive feedback that will help you improve your skills quickly.

What’s more, because Adriana is an active business analyst who has done the work, both as a full time business analyst and as a consultantfor numerous organizations, you benefit from constructive feedback from a senior-level peer who has seen what works and what doesn’t in a variety of project situations.

Adriana is one of those people who brings great insight into the requirements process, making sure that requirements are communicated in a way that both non technical and technical stakeholders can understand. Her skills helped our team avoid expensive software development rework and ensured that the software solution not only delivered measurable results, but also met user expectations. Adriana was asked to jump into a complex project only a few weeks prior to implementation to address requirement deficiencies and subsequent software repairs. As a result of her skills, a considerable amount of rework was avoided and the project was put back on track and completely within the allocated budget.” – Arnaldo Carrera, Chief Information Officer at Safra National Bank

 

Classes will start again in January 2018 – ensure you don’t  miss the opportunity to join by getting into our waiting list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in this program?

Anyone who has participated in at least one software development project, in any capacity (such as a project manager, technical writer, subject matter expert, business analyst, developer, tester, or product manager).

If you’re a manager interested in enrolling multiple BAs, get in touch and we’ll be happy to assist.

Is this program right for me?

That’s an important question. We’re glad you asked.

This program is for you if:

  • You are an aspiring BA that has end-to-end project experience in another role, such as an SME, technical writer, developer, or QA engineer, and are wanting to build your confidence in creating requirements for traditional or agile projects. (If you are not sure if your experience qualifies, email us at info [at] bridging-the-gap [dot] com.)
  • You are a new BA tackling your first project agile project, with a good understanding of business analysis.
  • You are an experienced BA wanting to improve your requirements documentation and communication skills.
  • You are a product owner and/or product manager responsible for creating requirements for your projects.

This program is not for you if:

  • You want to improve your skills in requirements elicitation or requirements analysis. These topics are not covered in this program.
  • You are looking for an end-to-end course that covers all the knowledge areas. This program provides a deep-dive on requirements documentation and communication.
  • You have just been assigned a brand-new project and are looking for how to get started, i.e. you have not yet elicited and analyzed the requirements.
  • You don’t have experience in an end-to-end project (in any role).

How does the program work?

Once your registration is complete, you’ll receive your login details to the My Business Analysis Career platform and immediate access to all of the on-demand program materials. There you will be able to download presentations and lesson notes, as well as the assignments that you will complete and send to your coach by email. The hands-on exercises will be based on a “mock-up” project in a topic familiar to you to practice documenting requirements.

What type of support can I expect from the instructor?

You will receive (via email) answers to your questions about the lessons, feedback on your work, and recommendations for extra practice for all coaching exercises, as many times as needed to make sure you get it right. Responses to your emails will be provided within 2 business days.

How many hours will I have to dedicate to the program?

This will be entirely up to you – the more time you dedicate to studying the material, writing requirements and creating additional visual models or acceptance criteria for your user stories, the more skills you will be developing during the program.

Plan on dedicating at least 3 hours per week during the program’s 2-month period to optimize your learning opportunity. Even though there are no deadlines for your exercises, it is recommended that you complete one lesson per week in order to have the time to practice with different methods for documenting requirements during the program period.

What type of program material will I receive?

The program material includes lesson notes with text and illustrations, along with links to curated content on the Web. Most of the activity will revolve around deliberate with hands-on exercises that simulate real-life situations. The program was not designed to provide you with comprehensive study material, but rather point you to content that can help you overcome your weaknesses and to teach you how to apply the knowledge found in books you already read, or on the lesson notes and online articles that will be recommended.

I work in an agile environment. Will this program help me?

Yes, and you will benefit from the material in both tracks. The Traditional track explains the difference between more traditional documentation and agile documentation, and lets you use user stories for capturing high-level requirements and acceptance criteria for more detailed specifications. The Agile Track covers additional agile concepts, such as grooming the backlog.

Do I need to read all content from both tracks in order to successfully complete the program?

No, you can opt early on to focus exclusively on the Traditional or Agile track, and only read the material associated with that track. Each track is self-sufficient, and if you want to specialize in agile requirements, even though you may benefit from checking out some of the lessons from the Traditional track (such as the one about visual models), it’s not necessary to achieve the program objectives.

Do I get a certificate at the end? What about Professional Development Hours for Certification purposes?

Your professional credits are backed up by a Certificate of Completion, which you can also use to prove to your employer that you finished the program successfully. The program has been evaluated by IIBA® when it was previously part of Endorsed Education Provider™, being accepted to count as 21 professional development hours. The program is now offered by a non-EEP, but you can list the class on the certification application and IIBA will determine if it qualifies for the PD hours that you are requesting. (Since the class meets the requirements specified by IIBA in its certification handbook, this should not be an issue. If you are denied recognition for your PD hours, get in touch and we’ll advocate for you.)

Can I complete both tracks?

Upon joining the program, you’ll receive the materials from both the Traditional and the Agile tracks. You can submit assignments from one track. If you decide it makes sense to pursue a second track at a later time, we offer a 50% discount on your subsequent investment in Crafting Better Requirements, which covers coaching support through the second track earns you a second certificate for the purpose of claiming additional 21 professional development hours.

Let’s take a quick look at
what you are about to receive

You know that improving your requirements documentation could lead to more career opportunities. Let’s review exactly what’s included in the program.

  • You’ll get honest, constructive feedback from Adriana Beal on your requirements documentation, the kind you’ve been craving and receiving too little of from your stakeholders, peers, and mentors. (Coaching feedback is provided on the Traditional ORAgile track – you can choose your track after you review the materials.)
  • You’ll receive curated content on crafting better requirements that focuses on overcoming your weaknesses rather than wasting time with general content that may not be relevant for accelerating your learning.
  • You’ll work on a mock project to practice these concepts right away, ensuring you take the concepts from the program and translate them into concrete improvements in your requirements deliverables.

Classes will start again in January 2018 – avoid missing the opportunity to join by getting into our waiting list.