Sunday, January 20, 2013

Requirements part 4 - Kano Analysis

One of the things that I always keep in my mind when assessing and prioritising requirements is the cost of fulfilling the requirement relative to the cost of not fulfilling the requirement. I tend to think of this as the cost of compliance versus the cost of non-compliance.

Cost is an important dimension to incorporate into the overall requirements management effort, stakeholder engagement activities and so on and so forth. The application of this sort of approach is broad. I've recently been working with a client to work out which of their 'extensive' software library they wish to retain and which they can afford to withdraw. 

It isn't quite the case that there's a one to one relationship between a software application and a set of requirements. But there is often a 'service' comprising of one or more applications (and possibly more besides) which together fulfil a set of business requirements.

With all of this said, costs of compliance / non-compliance, serve as a useful entry point to start a conversation about 'what's in, and what's out'. It's quite useful too to bring any written business objectives into the equation as well.

But, as I say above, the cost argument is an important dimension, it isn't the whole story.

It can be difficult to sell a decision based wholly on cost (even if the decision is actually wholly cost based). This can be particularly trying when the end-user is divorced from the costs. So, we can bring something else into the equation which can help namely, Kano Analysis.

Kano analysis nicely skewers the fact that there are some very different types of requirements as far as stakeholder perception goes.

  1. If you walk into a room and turn the light on, and it comes on you're only ever going to be so happy. On the other hand, if the light doesn't come on you will be dis-satisfied.
  2. If you walk into a room and the temperature is too cold, but you can adjust the temperature with a thermostat, you'll probably be satisfied.
  3. If you walk into a room and there's coffee and biscuits laid out for you, you'll probably be delighted.
Kano analysis is intended to give you a structured approach to identifying which category your requirements fall into with your stakeholders. It has the added bonus of being very quick and easy.

See the illustration below. All we need to know is the answer to two questions - the answers need to represent a consensus of the stakeholders. Workshops can be used to elicit the information and you could do something useful in a room of people with sticky labels (I'm all for getting decisions made at the coal face)

With these two questions answered we can map a requirement to one of the following categories. In practice, you don't tend to get any of the combinations marked null. It does happen an usually it's because there's a lack of consensus or clarity.

We can usefully articulate the requirements as follows. I haven't bent my meagre brain to it yet, but I can see a useful bubble chart in Excel mapping out the requirements - do let me know if you beat me to it.

And, in the event that ultimately all decision making is cost led, you can engage and communicate with stakeholders to manage expectations (and sometimes fallout) from commercial decisions that have implications for them. It's all good, useful information.

We've got two last bits to cover off and then I think that'll be an opportune point to take a break from requirements.

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