Allocate Requirements - Business Analyst

Purpose

Allocate stakeholder and solution requirements among solution components and releases in order to maximize the possible business value given the options and alternatives generated by the design team.

Description

Requirements allocation is the process of assigning stakeholder and solution requirements to solution components and to releases. Allocation is supported by assessing the tradeoffs between alternatives in order to maximize benefits and minimize costs. The business value of a solution changes depending on how requirements are implemented and when the solution becomes available to stakeholders, and the objective of allocation is to maximize that value.

Requirements may be allocated between organizational units, between job functions, between people and software, software application components or releases of a solution. Requirements allocation typically begins early in the project lifecycle (as soon as the solution approach can be determined) and will continue to be performed until all valid requirements are allocated. Allocation typically continues through design and construction of a solution.

Input

Requirements [Prioritized and Approved]: Requirements allocation may be performed with requirements in any state (e.g. stated, analyzed, verified, validated) although completion of this task requires requirements have been approved.

Solution [Designed]: The solution design must have a defined set of components, and the costs and effort associated with delivery of those components must have been estimated. Tradeoffs can then be made between the functionality allocated to each component and the cost associated with developing that component.

Solution Scope: The solution scope allocates business requirements to components and releases. The associated stakeholder and solution requirements should match that allocation, or the solution scope will have to be revised.

Elements

1. Solution Components

The majority of business solutions (with the exception of minor changes or upgrades to an existing solution) will be composed of multiple components. Each component implements a subset of the requirements. The allocation of requirements to solution components will be a primary driver of the cost to implement the solution and the benefits delivered by it.

Solution components may include:

  • Business policies and business rules
  • Business processes to be performed and managed
  • People who operate and maintain the solution, including their job functions and responsibilities
  • Software applications and application components used in the solution.
  • Structure of the organization, including interactions between the organization, its customers, and its suppliers

During solution design, it may become necessary to revisit the initial allocation of functionality between components as defined in the solution scope as the cost to implement each component becomes better understood, and to determine which allocations have the best cost/benefit ratio.

As costs and effort are understood for each solution component, the business analyst will need to assess whether the allocation represents the most effective tradeoffs between delivery options. Considerations are likely to include:

  • Available resources: The suppliers will be faced with limitations regarding the amount of requirements they can implement based on the allocated resources. In some instances, the business analyst may be able to develop a business case that justifies additional investment.
  • Constraints on the solution: Regulatory requirements or business decisions may require that certain requirements be handled manually or automatically, or that certain requirements must be prioritized above all others.
  • Dependencies between requirements: Some capabilities may in and of themselves provide limited value to the organization, but need to be delivered in order to support other high-value requirements.

2. Release Planning

Facilitate the decisions about which requirements will be included in each release / phase / iteration of the project. There are many factors that will guide these decisions, such as the overall project budget, the need to implement a solution or parts of the solution by a certain date, resource constraints, training schedule and ability for the business to absorb changes within a defined timeframe. Ensure all parties understand the consequences to the organization based on the planned schedule of releases and identify the solution capabilities that will deliver the greatest business value.

There may be organizational restraints or policies that must be adhered to in any implementation, including constraints such as freeze periods for implementation, general company policies, and any phased-in activities. Business analysts assist in planning the timing of the implementation within a business cycle in order to cause minimal disruption of business activities.

Techniques

Acceptance and Evaluation Criteria Definition: A minimal set of acceptance criteria may need to be met by a particular release.

Business Rules Analysis: Business rules can be managed and monitored by people or automated by a software application.

Decision Analysis: Can be used to estimate the value associated with different allocation decisions and optimize those decisions.

Functional Decomposition: Can be used to break down solution scope into smaller components for allocation

Process Modeling: Activities in the process model may be allocated to different roles, or outsourced to a supplier. A solution can be developed that incrementally supports some subprocesses or activities.

Scenarios and Use Cases: Alternative flows can be separated from the base use case and included in an extension to be moved into a later release.

Stakeholders

Customers and Suppliers: Will be affected by how and when requirements are implemented and may have to be consulted about, or agree to, the allocation decisions.

Domain SME: May have recommendations regarding the set of requirements to be allocated to a solution component or to a release.

End User: May require a minimal defined set of requirements to be implemented before a release can be accepted. If requirements are reallocated to a manual process, the additional workload may seriously affect their job performance and satisfaction. End users may have concerns about the frequency of change that they are prepared to accept and will need to be aware of reallocations.

Implementation SME: Will be responsible for the design and construction of some or all solution components and the estimation of the work required. Will make recommendations regarding the allocation of requirements and may take ownership of allocation if the decision regarding a particular allocation does not have any significant impact on the ability of the solution to meet business or stakeholder requirements. In particular, allocation of requirements between the individual software application components is usually the responsibility of a system architect or developer.

Operational Support: Will be affected by the allocation of requirements to components and releases and need to be aware of when and where requirements are allocated.

Project Manager: Responsible for the work being done by the project team and will need to participate in requirements allocation in order to manage the project scope and work. May need to request reallocation in order to reduce project work or seek adjustments to the scope or budget of the project.

Tester: Responsible for verifying releases and solution components and will therefore need to know how requirements have been allocated.

Sponsor: Responsible for funding of the project and therefore required to approve the allocation of requirements to components and releases based on the recommendation of the business analyst and the project team.

Output

Requirements [Allocated]:Allocated requirements are associated with a solution component that will implement them.

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