Understanding the PJM Requirements Analysis and Communication Framework

By Perry McLeod, CBAP, PMP
Requirements, a representation of a stakeholder’s needs, are everywhere.  If collecting them were as simple as walking our shopping carts up and down, the aisles of our local solutions supermarket then the business analysis profession would be a far simpler one. Thankfully, for us, this is not the case.  Separating needs from wants and representing them as requirements is a very difficult abstraction—that is why I have created a scalable framework, which I believe will help any analyst navigate through myriad conversations to get at the kernel and get things done.
Known as the PJM Requirements Planning, Analysis, and Communication Framework, this model (RPEAC) uses four basic concepts to navigate through the complex world of issues, problems, wants, and needs.
  1. Encapsulation
  2. Focus
  3. Perspective
  4. Depth
Encapsulation: In general, encapsulation is the inclusion of things into packages, or capsules.  The RPEAC framework takes advantage of this concept by grouping different focuses, and perspectives together to create focal and perspectives sets.  Further, the framework continues to use this idea for the building of the requirements themselves.
Focus: Needs must have a starting place through which they are discovered.  Whatever is holding the business analysts attention at any one given time is a place of focus or focal point.  Examples include the organisation itself, the culture of the organisation or stakeholders within the organisation.  Focus may also be external facing such as, vendors, regulators, or customers.
Perspective: The perspective, chosen once the business analyst selects a point of focus, provides a means to understand the focus.  This allows the business analyst to look at specific things while maintaining focus.  Perspectives of understanding or points of view may include business services, processes, rules, and various events, which are within the solution scope.
Depth: Part of the perspective, allows for different strata of elicitation, communication, or analysis while maintaining the same focus.
Think of this framework as a recipe-based model that uses playing cards to express the points of focus, areas of perspective and depths of analysis and then groups them into sets, which are used to explore ideas, have conversations or build requirements.  There are three decks to choose from and you may choose what you want, when you want to build a ‘discovery recipe’ that fits the needs of the moment.  Let us assume a scenario where there has been a change request to the information capture process in the client care centre.  The images that follow provide an example of how a business analyst would use the RPEAC framework.
In this illustration, we can see that the business analyst has chosen to have a discovery session for the policy or polices affected by the change request.  In addition, the BA has taken the point of how the changes in the policies affect the information in question.  Finally, the BA has opted for a high-level conceptual analysis.
This next illustration shows the use of focus and perspective sets –we permute each deck, as needed.  Permutations number in the thousands, covering a very broad range of discovery session topics.  The indented conversation for this workshop will still focus on the policy changes, however the perspective widens to include which processes are affected and how the information in those processes will remain secure.  

This last example supposes that in the same workshop a participant has requested broadening the scope to include the affected stakeholders and how the culture in client care department, affected by the change request, will respond to the changes.  This just a small taste of an extensible framework you can use to determine the true needs of your stakeholders.  Join Perry McLeod August 12, 10:30 am EST for a detailed presentation on how this framework assembles and how you can put it to work in everything you do.