Key Benefits

Scenarios reflect stories about how work gets done, what needs to improve, and the deep knowledge of key performers. Benefits of using scenarios to generate requirements include:

  • A common forum for building a relationship with users and subject matter experts. Key performers can easily share stories about the most important outcomes they produce and scenarios or descriptions of how they do so
  • A means of scoping and bounding the problem space to be investigated
  • A means of prioritizing the potential solutions from a performance perspective
  • A mechanism to help a team focus on areas to address next
  • The conceptual level representation of a system and its use
  • A usable product in the transition from problem space to solution space.

Contact us for more information about using the Scenario-Based Engineering Process to create user-centered requirements for your new system.

Scenario-Based Engineering Process for User-Centered Requirements

Silver Bear Group brings a scenario- and user-based approach to the identification and development of system requirements. Dr. McGraw was a developer of the Scenario-Based Engineering Process (SEP) for use on large scale system development on complex government and commercial systems including expert systems (AI). SEP is a user-centered system development methodology that combines features of business process re-engineering with software engineering (McGraw & Harbison, User-Centered Requirements: The Scenario-Based Engineering Process, LEA, 1997). It is a manageable user-centered, prototyping-intensive system development methodology that is applicable in many situations--from the documentation of user-centered requirements for an app, to complex systems in dynamic, changing environments. The scenarios that are produced by this approach provide a clearly defined transition path from the problem space--from the "current state" to the future or "to be" state.

How it Works

Business management consultants use various knowledge acquisition and analysis techniques to capture and describe the Domain Model (a description of the domain in which the system must operate), the User Model (a user profile for each user role, describing user characteristics and responsibilities) and a System Model (a general description of the system to be developed, its basic activities, and performance constraints). These models provide a shared context to ensure that each role on the development project team has the same understanding.

Next, business management consultants conduct sessions using various techniques (e.g., interview, observation, appreciative inquiry, task analysis, process re-engineering, etc.) with key performers and experts in critical job roles. These sessions enable the consultants to understand current scenarios of use and to envision and document "to be" scenarios that represent:

  • Conditions for the scenario to begin
  • Better ways of working (which reflect stakeholder requests and expectations)
  • Efficient application of processes to reduce problems identified in the current state
  • Tasks that must be completed for the scenario to reach the desired end state
  • User roles or types that are critical to the scenaro
  • Resources (other systems, job aids, or other roles) required for success
  • Description of the end state of the scenarios (e.g. output, etc.)
  • Requirements that must be addressed in order to implement the scenario

The future or "to be" scenarios are documented in a graphical or table format which includes system and user tasks that occur in the scenario. Once a scenario has been documented, it is reviewed by key performers for accuracy and completeness. After this review, business analysts identify requirements necessary to make each "to be" scenario a reality. Business analysts and consultants then conduct walkthroughs with system design and development personnel to discuss the scenarios and requirements, allowing the team to begin identify how they can be met, and to clarify and build on draft requirements. 

System design and development personnel bring the scenarios and requirements to life through diagrams and prototyping exercises using an Agile approach, interacting with the customer and stakeholders for feedback and approval at regular intervals.