Requirements Walkthrough – Avoiding Common Pitfalls


Once the Business Analyst (BA) has elicited and analysed, changed, put them through the cycle again and stabilised the business requirements, they must be reviewed and signed off by the senior stakeholders of the project. The requirement walkthrough is an opportunity for the Business Analyst to bring all project stakeholders together to make sure everyone is aligned and to trigger any last minute ‘gotchas’.

When a BA carries out a requirement walk-through with the right stakeholders they will soon find out if they have truly captured the business needs. At the same time they will also find out whether they are specified in such a way that they can be used in the next stages of design, build and test.

Requirement Walkthroughs are invaluable but they can be exhausting for everyone involved, as the BA conducts a page-by-page inspection of the Requirements Specification.  Such reviews do tend to suffer from some common issues, which can impact the outcome and dismay the reviewers. Here are the most common issues a BA is likely to encounter and ways to help avoid them:

1. Doing the requirements walk-through too early

The BA must ensure that the requirements are really ready for review before they hold a walk-through. It helps to iteratively vet out the big issues in smaller groups beforehand. Meet individually with the key stakeholders to ensure their needs are understood.  Recognise and raise conflicts in requirements as they arise so these can be resolved.  By the time the BA does the walk-though, requirements should be almost ready to sign-off.

2. Reading every requirement aloud 

The BA does not need to read every one of scores of requirements out loud. It takes too long and is very tedious for the Reviewers. Instead, take the Reviewers through the requirements in meaningful sections. Give them an overview of the section and let them review the details themselves.

3. Not including the right people

Ideally, the walkthrough should include at least one person from every area of the business impacted by the requirements.  Most importantly, they must be empowered to make decisions. Examples include Marketing, Finance, Product Management, Customer Services and IT.  Sometimes more than one person from each group may be needed because of the decision matrix within that group.

4. No one says a word

Be prepared with some comments and questions to get group discussion going; there’s nothing more disheartening than tumbleweed blowing through the session. Occasionally, people have something to say but don’t want to appear to be critical of the BA’s work. The BA should encourage the Reviewers to participate actively by welcoming all feedback.

5. Feedback is centred around typos, not meaningful content

Requirements presented for walkthrough should be free from spelling and grammatical errors. Where possible try to flush these out beforehand perhaps by arranging a peer review. If that isn’t possible, the BA should be clear that any editorial feedback can be provided in an email afterwards unless, of course, the feedback impacts the meaning of the requirement.

6. The business uncovers a fundamental flaw in the project

No matter how diligent the BA is in ensuring the requirements are ready for the review, they may run into the dreaded ‘show-stopper’ of an issue. Here a fundamental issue is raised which may put the project in jeopardy. The review will usually be abandoned while the team scuttles off to find the recovery position.

7. The review is not brought to a conclusion

It’s important to confirm the outcome of the review with the group and clarify any actions assigned and the dates they need to be completed by.


Concluding the review

At the conclusion of the review there are normally three kinds of recommendations that can be made:

  1. Accept the requirements for sign-off in their present form
  2. Accept the requirements for sign-off with the agreed revisions
  3. Plan a further walkthrough when the errors are fixed and gaps have been closed


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