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Requirements Analysis Destroys Ambiguity

Combat Missing and Misunderstood Requirements
4.5 (6 ratings)
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Last updated 9/2014
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  • 30 mins on-demand video
  • 7 Articles
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What Will I Learn?
Defend the need for expressing requirements that all affected target audiences understand
Isolate and address ambiguous words and phrases in requirements
Use our Peer Perception technique to find words and phrases that can lead to misunderstandings
Improve the understandability of your requirements with revision, definition, and clarification techniques
Clarify ambiguous terms with corporate and industry standard definitions
Make effective use of clearly defined acronyms
Reduce ambiguity by adding context where necessary
Utilize standard readability indices to improve the probability that all intended audiences share a common understanding of the content
View Curriculum
  • No technical background required
  • Desire to define user requirements for IT
  • Interest in the field of business analysis
  • HTML5 compatible browser for exercises (quizzes)
  • No additional materials are required

Misunderstood requirements on Information Technology (IT) projects are legend – and can cost you an arm and a leg. A recent study to quantify the cost of misunderstood requirements indicates they can nearly double the cost of the project! One of the major causes of misunderstanding is the inherent ambiguity and subjectivity of our language. Every unit within an organization has a unique vocabulary. Its members communicate within the unit effectively because each shares a common understanding of the terms and phrases within that context. Taken out of context (e.g. in Requirement Statements that IT needs to understand), those terms are subject to misinterpretation. </p>

“Using Requirements Analysis to Destroy Ambiguity” presents a set of rules and techniques for recognizing and removing the ambiguity and subjectivity of language early in the process. Detection and clarification of ambiguous terms and phrases before development reduces coding errors, minimizes testing time, and increases the odds that the product will be delivered on schedule and within budget. You can use the presented techniques on any set of requirements to improve the probability that the Solution Providers will deliver what the business needs with minimal misunderstandings.

This course is the second of three in our series “How to Write Effective Requirements for IT Solutions” that will dramatically reduce the failure rate of projects suffering from poor requirements. Regardless of your job title or role, if you are tasked with communicating your future needs to others, this course will help. It is interactive (includes exercises with instant feedback), instructionally designed (based on modern learning theory), and "intellimated™" (uses animated visuals with an accompanying audio track) to hold your interest and increase retention.

Who is the target audience?
  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Product Owners
  • Business Process Managers
  • Product and Project Managers
  • Line Managers
  • Business System Analysts
  • Anyone wearing the BA hat!
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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 18 Lectures Collapse All 18 Lectures 34:15
Setting the Stage
3 Lectures 07:47
  • Course Introduction
  • Learning Objectives
Preview 02:34

  • Avoid Ambiguity in Your Requirements
  • Ambiguity Kills Projects
  • Who Needs to Understand Your Requirements?
Preview 04:15

The video below (What Are Business, Stakeholder, and Solution Requirements?) will give you a brief introduction to the different types of requirements according to the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA).

Preview 00:58
Finding and Fixing Ambiguous Requirements
6 Lectures 14:05
  • Rampant Ambiguity
  • Desk-Checking Uncovers Ambiguity
The Challenge to Understanding

This little exercise will help you identify ambiguous terms.

This exercise is designed for Internet Explorer (IE). It may not work with other browsers.

Preview 00:29

  • Requirements Define the Future
  • Restating Requirements to Find Ambiguity
  • Picking the Right Peers
Use Peer Reviews to Increase Understandability

A two part exercise for you to identify good requirement rewrites and then write your own rewrites.

This exercise is designed for Internet Explorer (IE). It may not work with other browsers.

Exercise: Requirement Interpretations

  • Revise Ambiguous Elements
  • Revising, Defining, and Clarifying Your Requirements
Combatting the Major Cause of Project Failure

This exercise is designed for Internet Explorer (IE). It may not work with other browsers.

Exercise: Revising Requirements
Best Practices to Reduce Ambiguity
6 Lectures 09:00
  • Acronyms, Yes, BUT …
  • Make Use of Corporate and Industry Standards
  • The Power of a Glossary
Use Acronyms and Corporate Standards

This exercise is designed for Internet Explorer (IE). It may not work with other browsers.

Exercise: Removing Ambiguity

  • The Major Cause of Ambiguity
  • Adding Context and Other Missing Information
Add Context to Eliminate Ambiguity

This exercise is designed for Internet Explorer (IE). It may not work with other browsers.

Exercise: Interviewing for Ambiguity

An understandable business requirement is written to the readability level of the target audience by staying within standard readability indices. In this lecture we will explain what readability indices are and how to use them in your requirement writings.

Are you working in an Agile environment? Watch the videos below for a brief excursion into the Agile world of requirements.

Write to the Readability Level of Your Audience

This exercise is designed for Internet Explorer (IE). It may not work with other browsers.

Exercise: Using Readability Indices
In Closing
3 Lectures 01:54

Summary of the course.

Summary: Unambiguous and Clear Requirements

This exercise is designed for Internet Explorer (IE). It may not work with other browsers.

Exercise: Final Exam

If you are interested in an instructor-led version of this course please check out the link below "Requirements Training: Business and Stakeholder Requirement Analysis"

Bonus Lecture: Thank You and Contact Info
About the Instructor
4.1 Average rating
111 Reviews
2,001 Students
8 Courses
BA-EXPERTS: Business Analysis for Anyone Wearing the BA Hat

Tom has been in business analysis since long before it was called business analysis. He has over 30 years experience in the fields of information technology, methodologies, and business analysis. In his writings and lectures he strives for enlightening while entertaining. As a facilitator, he achieves results through inclusion and synergistic group-building. He has taught thousands of students business and systems analysis skills since the '80's and has facilitated hundreds of requirements discovery sessions under a variety of acronyms (JAD, ASAP, JADr, JRP, etc).

Angela and Tom Hathaway (previously Hathaway & Associates, Inc. and Requirements Solutions Group, LLC) founded BA-EXPERTS in 2011. As a team, Angela and Tom have trained, consulted, mentored and coached thousands of business analysts around the world for organizations from small businesses to Fortune 100. Hundreds of current and past customers include TIAA-CREF (Financial), Cathay Pacific (Airline), Manitoba Telecom Services (Telecommunications), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Hospitality), government agencies, and a myriad of organizations spanning all sizes and industries. Our training, consulting, and mentoring efforts have saved our customers around the world millions and can help your organization improve its business analysis practices

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