Remember the 5 W's

No matter the size of your project when you are determining the requirements for a new or enhanced solution, it always pays to remember the 5 W's:


WHO

Who deals with identifying the various actors and players in a solution.

These are examples of the kinds of questions you should be asking with respect to the "Who" of the intended solution:

  • Who needs to use or interact with the solution?
  • Who derives value from the solution?
  • Who is paying for the solution?
  • Who will be supporting the solution?
  • Who has permission to perform the various activities within the solution?
  • Who belongs in what roles within the solution?
  • Who will maintain the master data?
  • Who will administer the solution?
  • Who am I missing?

WHAT

What deals with identifying the various functionalities, data, inputs, outputs, deliverables, artifacts, etc. of the intended solution.

These are examples of the kinds of questions you should be asking with respect to the "What" of the intended solution:

  • What are the goals and objectives of the solution (should be stated in business terms)?
  • What do the users need to be able to do in/with the solution?
  • What data elements does the solution need to capture, store, generate, output, etc.?
  • What are the master data elements?
  • What are the transactional data elements?
  • What is the authoritative source for the master data elements?
  • What business rules does the solution need to enforce?
  • What processes does the solution need to support and/or facilitate?
  • What transactions does the solution need to suport and/or facilitate?
  • What other systems does the solution need to interact with?
  • What data elements does the solution need to exchange with other systems?
  • What are the volumetrics for the solution (e.g., # of users, # of transactions, data growth rate, etc)?
  • What problems does the solution solve or mitigate?
  • What am I missing?

WHEN

When deals with various time-based events, activities, etc. of the intended solution.

These are examples of the kinds of questions you should be asking with respect to the "When" of the intended solution:

  • When does the solution need to be ready for launching?
  • When do users need to be able to perform specific activities?
  • When do periodic activities need to be performed (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.)?
  • When does the solution need to be available for use (normal business hours, 24/7/365, etc.)?
  • When can or should the solution be unavailable?
  • Do any activities need a history trail captured?
  • When can data be purged from the solution?

WHERE

Where deals with various geographic and/or logistical aspects of a solution.

These are examples of the kinds of question you should be asking with respect to the "Where" of the intended solution:

  • Where are the users located?
  • From where do the users need to be able to use the solution?
  • From which devices do the users need to be able to interact with the solution?
  • Where can or should the solution be hosted?
  • Where will persistent data be stored?
  • Where will temporary data be stored?
  • Where will backups be stored?

WHY

Why deals with the various drivers and/or constraints (internal and/or external) imposed upon a solution.

These are examples of the kinds of questions that you should be asking with respect to the "Why" of the intended solution:

  • Why is the solution needed (e.g., change in business conditions, new initiatives, legacy system replacement, technology upgrade, etc.)
  • Why now?
  • Which statutory or organizational rules is this solution intended to satisfy (i.e., rules that are drivers for the solution)?
  • Which statutory or organizational rules does this solution need to satisfy (i.e., rules that are constraints on the solution)?