Requirements Identification Phase – Understanding the Business

Understanding the customer's business processes is the most critical phase of a "Quick-Win"/ automation or process re-design project. Not only is identifying key business requirements of paramount importance, the Requirements Phase also sets the tone for a true collaboration effort at this point for obtaining accurate and complete information.

On a "Quick Win"/automation turn-around project, the amount of information and the level of detail to acquire about a process can be misjudged, resulting in too much or too little information. Too much information is not likely to negatively impact the goal of understanding about what the content of a business process is; however, gathering too much information can delay completion of the project unnecessarily, especially if the information is not needed for an automation project. Collecting too little information can lead to misinterpretation and delay in obtaining correct and accurate information. Be sure to schedule sufficient time and resources to complete this phase satisfactorily.

The Business Process Management Team (BPMT) will fill roles as both process automation and re-design analysts. The BPMT in automation roles will assist those BPMT members serving as re-design analysts in identifying process boundaries and in collecting information about supporting process functions not directly involved in sub-processes. The BPMT automation analysts will collect and distribute information through the use of data entry forms. However, the process re-design analysts will not gather the details of process activities until after the automation team completes its analysis of the target process for "Quick Win" automation of manual processes. Process re-design analysts will become involved in the Requirements phase when the automation team is in the Design phase.

By the end of the Requirements Phase, sufficient information will have been gathered by both automation and re-design projects to enable development of the "As-Is" work flows. In the case of the re-design project, the "To-Be" work flows from the automation project must be analyzed carefully to determine how well supported they are by the rest of the functionality in the target process. For this reason, some information about the whole process is needed. Automation work flows must not be developed in isolation from the rest of the target process.

Automation "Quick Win" Project Artifacts for Requirements Phase

Essential activities and artifacts to conduct and produce during the Requirements Phase include the interview, a limited Change Management Plan (CMP), a limited Requirements Traceability and Verification Matrix (RTVM), and a limited gap analysis. The artifacts are described by the sequence in which they should be developed and are all initiated during this phase.


Interview materials must be sent to Subject Matter Experts (SME's) prior to convening interviews to help focus the interview and maximize the amount of pertinent information that can be provided by it. Sample topics in the interview protocol will be provided in another article. Interview information is collected in face-to-face meetings with the SME's; it is synthesized and analyzed before work flow diagrams are attempted. The object of the interview is to not only focus on critical information during the allotted time frame, but also to avoid building a consensus about the information. Consensus should be performed by the interviewer, not by the SME's. Verification of the information will be obtained at the beginning of the analysis phase.

CMP (Limited)

The CMP describes the reason for process change and how the change will be implemented. Typically, the CMP includes topics that describe what the change entails, identifies the current process activities that need to be changed and why, what risks are inherent in the change, the benefits of change, how stakeholders will be involved, identification of planning activities, and what is involved in implementing the change. The CMP is a deliverable after completion of the Analysis Phase.

RTVM (Limited)

The RTVM enables tracking of requirements for test development, and comparisons with work flows and training materials to enable checks that requirements have been integrated into those artifacts. The RTVM can be constructed and reviewed in an interactive meeting with the customer.

Gap Analysis (Limited)

Review and compare government and industry-mandated standards, instructions or procedures with your organization's current manual process execution; annotate and account for differences in prescribed activities versus actual activities performed.

Re-design Project Artifacts for Requirements Phase

Project activities conducted for a re-design project are very similar to those conducted for the automation project with the exception of creation of a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA is an additional document required on many longer term re-design projects to ensure that services and products are delivered on time. If a re-design project is proceeded by an automation project, a significant savings in time and resources can be realized by re-use of the gathered information.


Interview meeting notes are received from automation project analysts at the beginning of their Design phase for follow-up if a decision is reached to conduct a re-design project. SME's initially interviewed and others with detailed knowledge of the target process should be interviewed during the re-design project Requirements Phase.

CMP (Full)

CMP is initiated by the automation project analysts and completed by the re-design project analysts once a re-design project commences. The CMP topics are the same as for the automation project; the re-design project CMP is initially delivered to the customer at the end of the Analysis phase and at the end of each phase thereafter.

RTVM (Full)

The RTVM is an internal work product to enable tracking of requirements for test development, and comparisons with work flows and training materials; the RTVM is a meeting deliverable scheduled for the end of the requirements phase for verification.


The SLA serves as a contract for work to be done by BPMT members (internal or external). The SLA includes schedule and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) performance specifications, and is delivered to the customer before the end of the Requirements phase. The SLA is used to monitor planned versus actual project performance, artifact quality and status.

Gap Analysis (Full)

The Gap Analysis is initiated with a review of existing process documentation to enable comparison of documentation with actual practice in the Analysis phase. The content and purpose are the same as that described in the automation project.

Be sure to visit my blog on Business Process Management for more information, references, products, and solutions supporting BPM.