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Elicitation Techniques

How to find out what you want to find out

I occasionally refer to elicitation techniques in my guides. In this article, I’ll run through some of the more well known ones.

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These work well because they are confidential and they can help you build rapport and buy in with the person you're speaking to. You can go as detailed as you like in conversation. On the other hand, they can be time-consuming, and you need to be careful that it doesn't become confrontational.

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Facilitated workshops

These enable group ownership of issues and can help to reach a consensus view. They are productive and creative and have an additional benefit of helping to share knowledge of other roles and functions across the group.

They are expensive to arrange, requiring multiple stakeholder participants to provide their time, and your facilitator must be skilled and effective, so the participants are engaged. It can often be a challenge to get the right people to attend - key individuals may decline the session or, possibly worse, agree to attend and then show up.


Observation gives you an objective view and helps to identify the “unknown unknowns” and non functional requirements. It helps you to understand the workflows and the undocumented processes - the way things are actually done in real life - and it can also help you discover other stakeholders

Do you ever find it difficult to do activities when someone is watching you? Behavioural change (whether deliberate or unintentional) is the risk when using this approach.

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Document analysis

Document analysis lets you see and analyse reporting requirements. You can identify specific data, stakeholder and non-functional requirements, but is time-consuming and reliant on realistic samples of documents being available.

At the extreme, it may be not possible to use this approach due to sensitivity and confidentiality concern.

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Surveys and questionnaires

We’ve all been asked to fill in surveys, so we all know when they work and when we put in poor quality responses - or just don’t bother. Now you are on the other side of the fence.

Surveys and questionnaires are good for large groups of participants and those who are geographically dispersed. They can be anonymous and, if structured correctly, can give quantitative outputs. The lack of face-to-face interaction can sometimes reveal hidden issues which people feel more comfortable to share in this way.

Response rates can be low though, and unless designed and analysed carefully, they can be ineffective and even misleading.

Take aways

  • If you want to change data governance, you need to understand the organisation.
  • Don't assume that your methods can simply be dropped into any scenario.
  • There are plenty of elicitation techniques that you can use and you will need to wisely choose which ones to use. 

Datazed can help you implement data governance in your organisation.

  • We can deliver an MVP bespoke to your needs and pain points.
  • We can upskill your colleagues so they can continue delivering your data governance and data quality activities.
  • We can provide training to your team, including training specific to data owners and data stewards.
  • We can provide you with data governance and data quality resource on an interim or part-time basis.
  • We can guide you through the tool selection process.

All these services can be provided remotely.


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