Shared Understanding Tip #1: Context Model

What you write may not be what I read. What I read may not be what I understand. And what I understand now may not be what I remember later…
When you capture the result of your analysis, how do you ensure achieving a shared understanding of business requirements?
In 2019, my post about taking responsibility for a shared understanding of business requirements has received by far the most responses.
The community agreed: it is critical to reach a shared understanding, and so frustrating when we struggle with it. So, starting a series of posts about different techniques to check for understanding, and make course corrections as needed. What are your tried and true tips?

*** Here is tip #1: Always create a context model and use it over and over.

What you may include (depending on the business problem and its context):

  • Main categories of users (use business names)
  • What will the users do with the system (name all the connectors)
  • Other systems that need to interact with the solution (name all the boxes)
  • External entities and parties that are key to understanding the context or participate in the value chain (name external parties)
  • Customers
  • Products or services created or impacted by the solution

Remember – there is no one right way to create a context model. The right one is the one that is understood, accepted and used.

Simple? You would be surprised how someone may completely misunderstand the context of the problem and the solution. Without a visual, you are going to need thousands of words with less chance of success.

Check out my book for other modelling ideas, and stay tuned for the next tip!

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