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INTERVIEW QUESTION:

What is Multi-Dimensional Prioritization of Requirements and What is the Benefit?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 7569 Views // 2 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Requirements Analysis (BABOK KA)

ANSWER

There is probably nothing more pervasive in the work of a business analyst than requirements. Analysts work with endless stakeholders to elicit requirements, document requirements, organize them by categories, look for impacts on current systems, look for interdependencies between them, question the value they will bring to the organization, and the list continues. Most products or systems have hundreds of requirements to consider. This is why requirement prioritization is so important.

Multi-Dimensional Prioritization is a structured and methodical approach to prioritizing requirements by evaluating each across multiple factors. It’s something that stakeholders and analysts often due intuitively when huddled together in a meeting. However, multi-dimensional prioritization brings structure, rigor and efficiency to this process. By assigning a numerical weight to each requirement across a number of predetermined categories, a resulting requirement priority can be obtained.

The factors used in the prioritization process are left up to the team or organization to determine. However, some common factors used in the evaluation of each requirement are: 

  • Severity of Defect (for Bugs)
  • Cost-Benefit to the Organization
  • Requirement Complexity and Probability of Success
  • Requirement Dependencies
  • Ongoing Cost of Feature Maintenance
  • Impact to Future Evolution of the System
  • Testability

Using factors like these, the business analyst can create a formulaic model which ascribes a value and initial priority to each requirement. Each factor will be rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 representing the greatest benefit to the organization if the requirement is implemented. In this example it was decided to evaluate each requirement against 4 factors. This is best done using a spreadsheet.

Example: Requirement Priority = Defect Severity + Req Cost-Benefit + Req Complexity + Req Maintenance Cost

This is similar in nature to the FMEA model used to identify system risks and determine the priority in which they should be addressed.

The structured approach of multi-dimensional prioritization has several benefits. First, it ensures that all requirements are being evaluated consistently against a standard set of factors. Second, a multi-dimensional model can be used to blend the input and opinions of numerous stakeholders. Finally, when dealing with more than just a few dozen requirements, the efficiency of using a model of this type becomes evident.

The multi-dimensional prioritization approach is an efficient tool. However, once implemented there is still some manual prioritization (albeit much simpler) for the analyst and team to performed. It’s difficult to have the model do ALL of the work unless you create a much more complex model. For example, your team will likely choose to schedule top priority requirements for development while manually considering the specific interdependencies between the requirements. 

 --
Chris Adams
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ADDITIONAL ANSWERS / COMMENTS

Steven Zachary posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 5:31 PM
The one thing missing is an example model we can sink our teeth into. Otherwise, great write up.
blackbugzy posted on Saturday, November 21, 2015 6:07 PM
Brilliant. Thanks,
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.



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