With so many meetings and emails, do we really need to throw in a workshop? Well, a requirements workshop can actually cut down on your future time spent in sitting in meetings and answering emails. It helps teams define what’s required for the completion of a project.
Ready to run or organize one? There are a few things to consider.
The first thing that needs to be taken care of is project research, and a lot of it. In addition to readily available information, requirements workshop facilitators would do well to speak to various team members and get any extra information out of them. Facts and opinions could crop up that you’ll want to know about beforehand.
After research and interviews, prepare questions, and prepare for stakeholder questions. Make sure that anything relevant is covered during the workshop. From there, make a checklist. This is where we begin to account for the logistics, including costs.
White boards, markers, visual aids, clipboards, printed materials, food – what else is missing? Ensure that the space available can accommodate everyone, and make sure that the time the workshop is scheduled for is ideal.
For example, you might not want the workshop to begin in the afternoon, when people are looking forward to going home. If your workshop is anticipated to continue for more than a few hours, schedule it across two days. This way, there’s a greater chance that stakeholders remain engaged the entire time.
Finally, invite the right people. Too often we invite individuals who, as it turns out, are not authorized to make decisions on behalf of their department or superior. All attendees should be able to interact and agree or disagree as stakeholders.
Control in Execution
If you’re going to be the facilitator as well as the organizer, brush up on a few requirements workshop techniques. This includes breaking the ice in a manner that makes everyone feel relaxed and natural upon beginning.
Have someone there to take the minutes and record key parts of the workshop, so no decisions or agreements are lost or forgotten.
Here is where many facilitators get tripped up: control. Do your very best to stick to the agenda as outlined beforehand. This means you’ll have to redirect conversations and make everyone either stick to or move on from the topic at hand.
All of this must be done in a very objective manner, as the facilitator is supposed to be a neutralizing force. If a conflict arises among stakeholders, give others a chance to speak so everyone can see where the rest of the room stands on it.
And once the workshop is over, it’s not really over. Any items left open will have to followed up on. After that, it’s up to you to distribute any relevant materials that were discussed during the meeting to stakeholders.
The advantage, of course, is that everyone will be on the same page, tasks will be completed in a timelier manner, and everyone will be clear on their role in the project.