Technique: Background Research

Why use this technique?

When a business analyst starts his assignment, he has to get more insight into organization, stakeholders, project and the existing system (if  applicable) in a short time frame. He can attain this knowledge  by studying the available documentation. This technique is alternatively called the background reading. It is a widely applicable technique, not specific to Business Analysis, which can also be used during the requirements elicitation.

How to use it?

These three steps described below will help you to use the background research technique for stakeholders identification:

Step 1: Search for  documents related to the project for which you work. This could include  corporate reports, organization charts, descriptions of existing systems, job  descriptions, policy manuals, feasibility study reports.

Step 2: Look for  similar activities / projects within the company.

Step 3: Read these papers and put all the identified officials, managers or groups to your list of stakeholders.

Tips:

  • This technique is useful for analists who are new to the organization, thus external consultants in particular.
  • Background research together with organization charts will help business analyst to get more insight information about the organization.

Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages:

  • Background reading helps the analyst to get an understanding of the organization before meeting the people who work there,
  • It  allows the analyst  to prepare for other types of fact finding, for example, by being aware of  the business objectives of the organization,
  • Documentation on the existing system may provide formally defined information requirements for the current system,
  • Documentation on the existing system is a source of stakeholders,
  • It is cheap to use.

Disadvantages:

  • Written documents often do not match up to reality,
  • Written documents can be long-winded with much irrelevant detail,
  • Some documents can difficult to get due to confidential information they carry.

Alternatively or complementary  you may use the following techniques to identify stakeholders:

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