How To Create Business Requirements
In the last post of this blog series on being successful with digital analytics, I explained why business requirements are so important to your digital analytics implementation. In this post, I am going to walk you through the process of creating business requirements.
If you did your homework from the last two posts, you should have a list of verified business objectives and some supporting business questions that your team has identified. You can now begin to create your business requirements spreadsheet. When you add requirements, try to write them in easy to understand language that makes sense to non-technical folks since you will be reviewing them with people outside of the analytics team. Begin by adding all of the business requirements that your team brainstormed, the associated business objectives, the business benefits and consider adding a requirement number just to be safe. Next, you should add a category for each requirement (i.e. Onsite Search, Shopping Cart, etc.) that will help you later when it comes to sorting. Then you should add an owner for each requirement who is the person at the organization who would care the most about it or be in the best position to answer questions related to the requirement. When you have done all this, it might look like this:
Once you have this, you are on your way! The next step is to populate the requirements spreadsheet with all of the business requirements that exist in your current analytics implementation. To do this, we are going to play a game that I call analytics implementation Jeopardy! Using your Solution Design Reference (SDR), I want you to look at all of the data points that currently exist and write down any and all business questions that you think can be answered. For example, if you have metrics for Form Starts and Form Completions and a Form Name dimension, you might add the following:
- How often do visitors start forms and complete forms?
- What is the form completion rate trend over time?
- Which forms are started and completed the most/least?
- Which forms have the best/worst form completion rate?
Add as many requirements as you can to the spreadsheet, being sure to fill in the requirement business benefit, business objective, category and owner as you go. In addition, while doing this for the requirements coming from your implementation, I suggest that you document in the spreadsheet which data points each requirement came from like this:
Documenting the data points will be helpful down the road when it comes to updating your solution design.
Once you have a list of requirements that includes your brainstormed items and the items from your current implementation, you should have a pretty decent list. I like to target no more than one-hundred business requirements. If you have too many, consider grouping similar items together, especially ones that leverage the same data points, objective and owner.
The next step is to sort your business requirements by category. This may require you making some adjustments to your categories, but the goal is to align these categories with different groups at the organization with whom you will meet to discuss the requirements. For example, if you have a team that focuses on marketing and paid media to drive visitors to the website, you would want to have a Marketing/Campaigns category and review those requirements with the Marketing team.
You should meet with all of your key stakeholder teams in a two-hour session and review with them the requirements that you have specific to their area. This will allow you to get their thoughts on the requirements you have generated, find out if more are needed and identify requirements that are not needed. I have found that if you approach a team and ask them how your analytics team can help them, they tend to not have much to say. But if, instead, you approach them with a good list of potential requirements, it is much easier for them to react and tell you if you are on the right track. Sometimes hearing some ideas gets their minds working and can bring out even better requirements since they likely know their area of the business better than you. Having this type of meeting also helps you get buy-in since the group is being given a chance to voice what they want. That can go a long way in many organizations.
For your homework assignment, I want you to build your business requirements list using the steps provided above:
- Finish brainstorming business requirements within your analytics team
- Create a business requirements spreadsheet like the one shown above and add your brainstorm requirements
- Reverse-engineer your current implementation and add those requirements to the spreadsheet
- Fill in the business objective, benefit, owner, category, etc. for each requirement
- Schedule meetings with your key stakeholder groups to review the requirements list with them (I know that may take a while, but get the process started)
- For bonus points, add a priority column to your requirements spreadsheet and work with your stakeholders or your team to assign a priority for each business requirement (i.e. 1 — Critical, 2 — Important, 3 — Eventually Needed, 4 — Low Priority, 5 — Future)
Next post, I will show you how to score your business requirements list so you can see where you stand today in taking action against these requirements.