Information Gathering for Business and Systems Analysts

Most technical staff understand that gathering information from users, clients and stakeholders is an essential part of their job. With little (if any) preparation for this crucial aspect of their jobs, many staff attempt to muddle their way through a series of poorly planned interviews or workshops.

At best, this is viewed as unprofessional and a source of frustration by their clients. In the worst case, poorly organised interviews and workshops can undermine the credibility of a project team.

This two-day course is a much-needed solution to this problem. The course equips participants with a toolkit of interviewing and workshop facilitation techniques. These are tempered with many hard won tips and tricks gleaned from years of practical experience.

The course relies on a minimum of theory, emphasising group activities and role-playing as the appropriate way to learn.

At the end of the course, participants will find that their skills have improved and they are able to present a more confident and professional image during interviews and workshops.

Course Features

  • Provides a framework for planning and conducting workshops and interviews
  • Extensive use of role-plays and simulations
  • Includes "take away" interview and workshop planners

Participant Benefits

  • Develops interviewing and facilitation skills
  • Builds confidence conducting interviews and facilitating workshops
  • Develops interpersonal skills.

Who Should Attend

  • Business Analysts, Business Systems Analysts, Systems Analysts, Functional Analysts
  • Software Engineers, Developers, Requirements Engineers, Requirements Analysts
  • Systems Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Control Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Human Factors Specialists
  • Process Engineers, Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG) Staff, Methodologists, Process Improvement Staff
  • Test Engineers, Testers, Quality Assurance Staff
  • Users, User Representatives, Stakeholders, Project managers, Program Managers

Course Duration

2 days full-time.

Course Agenda


  • Why Gather Information?
  • Uses of Information Gathering
  • The Importance of Stakeholder Analysis
  • Information Gathering Life Cycle
    • Plan
    • Conduct
      • Warm up phase
      • Productive phase
      • Closing phase
    • Analyse
    • Feedback
  • Information Gathering Framework
    • Objective
    • Logistics
    • Participants
    • Interactions
    • Relationships
    • Personalities
    • Mood

Information Gathering Activities, Tools and Techniques

  • Types of Information Gathering Activity
    • Interviewing
    • Surveys
    • Workshops
    • Prototyping
    • Other techniques
  • Tools and Techniques
    • Mind mapping
      • Mind mapping concepts and techniques
      • Advantages and disadvantages of mind maps
      • Comparing mind maps and lists
      • Mind mapping tools
    • Flip charts
      • Flip charts as visual aids
      • Provide shared understanding
      • Encouraging ownership
      • Encouraging innovation and creativity
    • Sticky notes
      • "Brain writing"
      • Creating a canvas
      • Organising ideas
      • "Dot voting"


  • Features and uses of interviewing
  • Planning interviews
  • Questioning styles
    • Open questions
    • Closed questions
    • Mirror questions
    • Hypothetical questions
    • Probing questions
    • Leading questions
  • Conducting and interview
    • Introductions, and "small-talk"
    • Explaining the purpose of the interview
    • The HEAR model
      • Hear
      • Empathise
      • Analyse
      • Respond
    • Taking notes
    • Closing phase
  • Analysis and feedback
  • Maintaining an interview log
  • Advantages and disadvantages of interviewing


  • Features and uses of surveys
  • Designing surveys
    • Identify population and sample
    • Conducting a pilot survey
    • Open vs. closed questions
    • Single vs. multiple responses
    • Ranking and rating
    • Wording of questions
  • Administering surveys
    • Preliminaries
    • Clearly explaining the purpose of the survey and how the information will be used
    • Explaining how to complete the survey
    • Confidentiality, ethics and privacy issues
    • Completing the survey
      • Self administered
      • Structured interview or focus group
      • Online Surveys
    • Collection of completed surveys
    • Expected response rate
  • Analysing survey data
  • Providing feedback to participants
  • Advantages and disadvantages of surveys


  • Features and uses of workshops
  • Planning workshops
    • Timing, duration and venue
    • Room layout, equipment and visual aids
    • Participant roles
      • Workshop sponsor
      • Facilitator
      • Scribe
      • Subject matter experts
      • Observers
  • Conducting workshops
    • Anatomy of a workshop
    • Warm-up activities
    • Purpose vs. group dynamics
    • The role of the facilitator
      • Plans the workshops
      • Explaining the purpose of the workshop
      • Planning and conducting "warm-up" activities
      • Listening vs. talking
      • Keeping the group on purpose
      • Managing group dynamics
    • The role of the scribe
      • Involved in workshop planning
      • Records information during the workshop
      • Fast and clear writing
      • Involved in analysis and feedback
    • Closing workshops
      • Reflection and review
      • Unfinished business
  • Ground rules for workshops
  • Techniques for reaching consensus
  • Analysis and feedback
  • Advantages and disadvantages of workshops


  • Features and uses of prototyping
  • Planning
    • Prototyping objectives
    • High vs. low fidelity prototypes
    • Horizontal vs. vertical prototypes
    • Throw-away vs. evolutionary prototypes
  • The prototyping cycle
    • Construct
    • Review
    • Check objectives and completion criteria
    • Revise
  • Advantages and disadvantages