The do’s & don’ts of note-taking during elicitation

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

So, you (the Business Analyst) are listening to your stakeholders while they are opening up and speaking. Great! The question is while they are speaking, should you take notes or should you not? If you are taking notes, how & to what extent? But first, why is note-taking important?

 

There are several reasons why you should take notes:

  • Recall: Out of the approximately 100 billion neurons that compose our brains, only around a billion, play a role in long-term memory storage. So it’s not unusual that we tend to forget. On your BA act, notes will help you recall what was discussed and agreed, especially when you had a few days gap since you had the meeting, or for projects that are large, complex and long-running. If stakeholder have to repeat the same discussions again & again, because you didn’t remember what was discussed earlier, it could sometimes cause serious concerns and they may start losing trust on you.
  • Reflect: Notes will assist your logical mind to reflect upon what was discussed, analyse and help generate more questions that needs to be asked to firm up the outcome of your work. It gives your thought process more structure. When you write, you see things more clearly and create better connected arguments and aid to convert ideas into workable solutions.
  • Render: Your notes form the basis of your BA artefact, such as a business requirements document. Without notes or minutes, important actions might be missed, needs or requirements might get lost.
  • Record: On certain programs keeping record of what was discussed are important from audit or legal purposes. In other cases, and more often, you want to make sure you record what’s being asked & said because people change their mind as they go along; as a BA you want to keep such changes under control so the project team has a reference point to work on.

 

How much notes should you be taking?

Every body is different. While some people are master at taking detailed word by word notes, others like to have brief notes based on what’s important for their purpose or perspective.

At times you may want to keep detailed notes of conversations and an audit-trail, especially if the trail of the conversation will lead to an important decision; the event trail may be important if the decision is challenged for some reason, later. While at other times, you may just notes the actions required or the gist.

 

What should you not be doing?

Whatever your style or preference is one thing you must never forget couple of things:

  • Do not alienate the person speaking by being so busy writing that they may think you aren’t listening. Remember the rules of listening – pay attention, watch, empathise.
  • Be aware and respect the emotional boundaries of people around you. Do not make your stakeholders or a wider group of people in the surrounding environment feel uncomfortable by taking notes. If you are working on a politically sensitive programme, e.g. a performance review programme that may lead to redundancies, and you are grabbing everything that is said and seen, people may shut up, or avoid you, or escalate concerns.

Happy note-taking.

Best,

Ujjal

 

 

1 thought on “The do’s & don’ts of note-taking during elicitation”

  1. Good article Ujjal – I agree with all of the points. One thing I would add – its worth circulating notes afterwards, to participants in any fact finding exercise or meeting. Ask for comments, also set a deadline asking for a response within (say) 3 days.

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