Techniques are the methods used by business analysts to perform business analysis tasks.
Business analysts need to use their experience and judgment to decide which techniques are appropriate and how to apply each technique in different situations.
Techniques may be used individually or in combination to achieve the technique’s aim.
There are different types of criteria, which are:
1. Acceptance criteria: these are used to describe the requirements, outcomes, or conditions that must be met for a solution to be considered satisfactory to key stakeholders.
- They outline the measures of value features which are to be used for evaluating and comparing different solutions and designs.
- The acceptance and evaluation criteria technique can be used at all levels of a project, from high-level to a more detailed level.
- They explain the minimum set of requirements that must be met for a appropriate solution to be worth implementing.
- They may be used to decide if a solution or solution component can meet a requirement.
- They are usually used when only one possible solution is being assessed, and are commonly communicated as a pass or fail.
2. Evaluation criteria: these are the measures used to evaluate a set of requirements in order to choose between multiple solutions.
- They describe a set of measurements which allow for classifying solutions and alternative designs according to their value for stakeholders.
- Each evaluation criterion shows a continuous or discrete scale for assessing a specific solution attribute such as cost, performance, usability, and how well the functionality represents the stakeholders’ needs.
- Attributes that cannot be assessed directly are analysed using expert judgment or different scoring techniques.
Both evaluation and acceptance criteria may be described with the same value attributes. When assessing different solutions, the solutions with lower costs and better performance may be rated higher.
3. Measurable and testable criteria: these allow for objective and consistent assessment of solutions and designs.
When reviewing a solution, the criteria are written using minimum performance requirements and maximum cost limits in contractual agreements and user acceptance tests.
There are some elements of a solution which are:
a. Value attributes: these are the attributes of a solution that decide its value for stakeholders.
They represent an accepted break down of the value proposition into its individual parts, which can be described as qualities that the solution should either possess or avoid.
Examples of value attributes include:
- The ability to supply specific information.
- The ability to execute or assist specific operations.
- The performance and receptive characteristics.
- The relevance of the solution in specific situations and contexts.
- The accessibility of specific features and capabilities.
- The usefulness, security, adaptable, and dependability.
Building acceptance and evaluation criteria on value attributes confirms that they are valid and appropriate to the stakeholder needs and should be examined when receiving and assessing the solution.
Business analysts make sure that the definition of all value attributes are accepted by all stakeholders. Business analysts may design tools and instructions for doing the assessment as well as for documenting and processing its results.
b. Assessment: In order to evaluate a solution against acceptance or evaluation criteria, it must be composed in a measurable format.
They must also include the following:
i. Testability: acceptance criteria are communicated in a testable form. This may require separate requirements down into a minute form so that the test cases can be written to confirm the solution against the criteria.
Acceptance criteria are written in the form of statements which can be confirmed as true or false. This is usually accomplished through user acceptance testing (UAT).
ii. Measures: evaluation criteria provide a way to decide if features provide the value needed to satisfy stakeholder needs. The criteria are presented as specifications that can be measured against a constant or distinct scale.
The description of each criterion allows the solution to be measured through different methods such as benchmarking or expert judgment.
Defining evaluation criteria may include designing tools and instructions for performing the evaluation, as well as for documenting and processing its results.
The acceptance, evaluation and measurable criteria has both its strengths and weaknesses which include:
- Agile methodologies may require that all requirements are communicated in a testable acceptance criteria form.
- Acceptance criteria are relevant when the requirements convey contractual obligations.
- Acceptance criteria provide the ability to evaluate requirements based on set criteria.
- Evaluation criteria have the ability to evaluate different needs based on set criteria, such as features, common indicators, local or global benchmarks, and agreed ratios.
- Evaluation criteria help in the delivery of expected return on investment (ROI).
- Evaluation criteria help in determining priorities.
- Acceptance criteria may convey contractual obligations and so it may be difficult to change for legal or political reasons.
- Attaining agreement on evaluation criteria for different needs among diverse stakeholders can be difficult.