Every new Microsoft Dynamics 365 project begins with gathering detailed functional requirements from the different users who will employ the new system. It is one of the most critical, initial steps in executing an effective implementation and helps ensure that the new system aligns with what the customer needs. As a Product Manager at Seer 365, I specialise in ensuring that the right content and questions are included in our GYDE365-Design application, enabling partners to capture and document those all-important requirements.
Here are my four top tips for gathering functional requirements effectively.
Firstly, what are functional requirements?
Functional requirements define the intended features of a system or product, how it should behave and are essential for demonstrating that your business has understood the needs of a customer. A key deliverable that demonstrates to a customer that you have correctly understood what they are looking for is a functional requirements document which identifies the stakeholder expectations and scope of the proposed solution.
Tip 1 – Understand and involve the right users – from the start.
Understanding and involving the people within an organisation who use the current system on a regular basis and/or will be the frequent users of the Dynamics 365 system is key when gathering requirements. Often, a predetermined group of people will be put forward by the customer to provide the requirements, however it is important to find out what these peoples’ roles within the organisation are and what their system needs will be in relation to their role. The users who are providing information should be knowledgeable and experienced, representative of everyone that will use the system, and have a vested interest in the solution being a success.
If possible, get perspectives from multiple people who carry out the same or similar roles within the business rather than just one, as this can help provide a more rounded perspective. This can be achieved in several ways, either by speaking to them directly or getting the business to collate the inputs and providing a consensus of the overall requirements. Ultimately, the aim is to include users from various backgrounds and business areas throughout the project lifecycle.
Tip 2 – Use a combination of methods to increase success.
Not all users will express themselves in the same way and a group of users may prefer different methods of relaying feedback and perspectives. Therefore, using a combination of methods to gather functional requirements can be beneficial. Observation, workshops, and surveys are just a few channels which can be used. Each of these methods has its own strengths and weaknesses, which is why using several can allow you to gather a more comprehensive set of requirements and needs for a system implementation.
Tip 3 – Frame questions for your audience to get what you need.
Gathering requirements isn’t just about asking questions; it’s about asking the right questions in the right way. You want to give your users the freedom to express their needs in as much detail as they would like. Asking open questions can help to ensure that the information captured is complete, accurate and relevant, as it will allow a user to explain a process in their own words, expressing their preferences and needs, without you subconsciously (or consciously) prompting a specific response. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper by asking follow-up questions to gather additional detail. This will help you to get to the heart of their motivations and reasons behind their specific needs.
Tip 4 – Create a standardised output document for easy understanding
When the requirements have been gathered from users, it’s necessary to create an output document that outlines the desired system solution and specifications. A document which encompasses all the useful functionality in their current system(s) and the requirements for the new system should be created with a standard format which the users can easily understand. Using appropriate language for your audience and detailing requirements in a clear manner will allow users to review the requirements before signing off on the scope of a project, prior to the build.
An easier way to gather functional requirements…
Now that we know that gathering functional requirements in an effective manner is key to the success of any Dynamics 365 project, if some of those requirements are misinterpreted, or if certain key users aren’t involved from the start, it could be the project’s downfall – leaving you with a system that isn’t quite fit for purpose, despite time, effort, and money being spent on it.
This was exactly why Seer 365 created our GYDE365-Design application. We wanted to help streamline the entire Analysis & Design process (the functional requirements gathering and output document creation), so that partners can gather requirements quickly, and more importantly, accurately, in just weeks, rather than, traditionally, months.
GYDE365-Design gives partners the flexibility to capture requirements in several ways:
- Self-service – Customers can provide the information themselves, in their own time, using the survey-driven application – end users can fill in the parts of the survey which are relevant to them and their business area.
- Guided – Partners can complete or assist customers with completing the survey, alongside them in a series of face-to-face workshops.
- A blend of the two – Both customer self-service and workshop-based requirements gathering.
The Solution Design documentation, which includes a detailed functional requirements breakdown, can then be automatically generated, enabling those involved in the project build on both sides to quickly understand the requirements.
GYDE365 can help to significantly reduce the time, risk and cost of running Dynamics 365 projects by automating key components of the Analysis and Design phases.
Find out more about how our GYDE365 platform can help transform your Microsoft Dynamics 365 projects: Book a Demo
Written by Aleisha Qasir
Aleisha Qasir, our Product Manager, is one of our newer team members at Seer 365. Prior to joining Seer 365, Aleisha gained experience working for a leading manufacturing & distribution Microsoft Dynamics partner as a support consultant and projects manager. She now plays a key role in ensuring our GYDE365-Design platform meets the evolving needs of our partners.