Financial Crisis

Trusted Tips to Move Your Business Analyst Career to a C-Suite Role

Each expert's point is to arrive at the highest level of the association. As a BA in the event that you are acceptable at your work, are inventive and imaginative, supplemented by having a proactive nature, you can take your business examiner vocation way to the extent you might want, advancing through administration levels to the highest level, hindered distinctly by your skill, gifts, and wants. Business Analysts are the scaffold between the various divisions of an organization. They are popular in each region of business, from fund to IT to corporate administration. In the present multifaceted world, business investigators unite the business needs with IT assets.

BAs are basically the channel between business issues and arrangements. They, subsequently, comprehend the different territories of the business well indeed. Commonly, in an association, the CEO builds up the vision and the Business Analyst does the examination and preparation to make that vision all the more obviously comprehended.

Hence, a BA is as of now mindful of what it involves to be a CEO, they simply need to pick up the experience, range of abilities, and information to wear the cap of a C-suite level proficient. Business experts who seek to the highest administration positions and who are hoping to grow their vocation skylines should be multidimensional experts with expansive business, IT, and authority aptitudes. They should search out and make their own chances past their customary ranges of familiarity, sharpen their current ranges of abilities, and procure new information and ranges of abilities required for the desired job.

In this blog, we talk about some wide rules which a BA can follow to take their vocation to the high level.

  • Business Analysts ought to widen their cross-practical experience.

"Business investigators hoping to extend their profession skylines must look for difficulties outside of their useful legacy." For a BA to develop into a C-suite job, they have to extend their practical mastery and expand their insight into the different divisions and spaces of an association. A business investigator as of now has cross-practical information and by sharpening up these they will be better positioned for taking on more extensive duties.

  • Business Analysts should increment innovative information and aptitudes and become acquainted with process and IT the executives systems.

A business Analyst, to push ahead on their vocation way, requires a further extent of mechanical familiarity. Heads who disregard their specialized aptitudes may be ignored. In a quick changing worldwide economy, dated specialized abilities can hamper asset distribution and key choices. In this manner, it's imperative to learn instruments for business process diagramming, demonstrating to draw the current and the future vision of the procedure. Instruments like MS Visio, Lucid Chart, BizAgi Business process modeler, and so on., prove to be useful here. A BA should try to comprehend and use techniques like Lean Six Sigma, CMMI, ITIL, and so forth., to improve forms and empower expansive scope business development and to improve IT execution and adjust IT to the business.

  • Business Analysts should sustain and fortify their conduct abilities. Each BA ought to have a remarkable mix of relational aptitudes, yet some social abilities merit their incentive in gold as one ascensions up the stepping stool in their profession.

A couple of outstanding among those are

  1. Problem-understanding Skill
  2. Decision Making Skill
  3. Creative and Innovative Thinking
  4. Analytical reasoning Skill
  5. Team Building Skill
  6. Presentation Skill
  7. Questioning Skill
  8. Communication Skill
  9. Listening Skill
  10. Negotiation Skill
  11. Conflict Resolution Skill
  12.  Facilitation Skill
  • While competing for the top employments in an association, it is basic to be acceptable at building associations with individuals across divisions to be powerful.

BAs must sharpen their authoritative change the executives abilities, compromise aptitudes, administration abilities, and other relational abilities as they imagine driving ever-changing groups and activities while ascending the company pecking order.

  • Certification and Training, a definite shot method of 'Climbing the Ladder'

Certifications not just increment the expert estimation of an individual yet in addition upgrades the aptitudes by causing one to learn new things past their activity. Affirmation tells your association, future managers, and your expert companions that you're very much qualified and that you pay attention to your profession. Basically, Certifications can be considered as a 'stamp of greatness'. One of the most significant motivations to get affirmed is that it causes you remain in front of the opposition. On the off chance that you really need to prevail in your vocation, you have to remain current in all the advances and guidelines that influence your calling. For a business analyst, there are various industry-perceived declarations that they can gain. Business examination confirmation is particular instruction that fills in as a certification for a business investigator proficient.

  • For BAs, initiative abilities are  not an obscure area. They for the most part use administration while encouraging conversations, directing groups through uncertain circumstances, articulating and moving an away from of the ideal future state, urging partners to think in new ways, and teaming up with partners to move in the direction of shared objectives. Given this, it ought to be simpler for BAs to sharpen up their authority aptitudes.

Business experts can sharpen their authority aptitudes through the accompanying exercises:

  1. Taking activity Being unequivocal Guiding others in their undertakings
  2. Setting clear headings and objectives
  3. Influencing others - Being a model for others to copy
  4. Continuously gaining from others and circumstances
  5. Listening effectively and Communicating unmistakably
  6. Having sympathy and inspiration

Resolving clashes At the C-level, knowing the association's objective and where to reach is just a little piece of the condition – realizing how to get others to tail you there is the harder and more significant part. Also, in this authority aptitudes of the expert has a ton of effect.

To put it plainly, the aptitudes required by a business investigator to step-up to the C-level of an organization spread a wide scope of subjects, from working with and driving others to know oneself and endeavoring to grow abilities and information at each profession stage. A business investigator is a generalist who is capable in working totally in various positions. The eventual fate of business examiner is prosperous in the worldwide market. Following the means referenced above, you can reach as high as your yearnings and constancy takes you.

Business Analysis in times of recession

The question now isn’t how to do more with less, it’s how to make sure you’re around to do anything at all. While there are any number of reasons why each of us wants to keep his or her job, business decisions are typically made at the organizational level, not the individual level. Therefore, we need to focus our efforts on protecting the role of business analysis, rather than protecting the job of Mike or Sarah. Does business analysis still matter in these rough economic times?

Good business analysis helps you make sure you build the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons. By focusing on an organization’s business objectives, tracing those to a viable solution with the necessary set of features, and then tracing further to detailed requirements, Business Analysts ensure that the organization’s efforts are focused on the right things for the right reasons. In the current economical situation, we have get it right the first time, and that’s exactly what business analysis lets you do.

In this environment, it’s easy to lose sight of the overall goals and instead fall into fire-fighting mode. The noise, worry and stress all around means that we need strong business analysis work, done by great Business Analysts, to make sure that requirements don’t get overlooked. A Business Analyst’s ability to focus the team, elicit and document the requirements, and manage them through the storm can relieve a great deal of stress for a great many people on the project team.

Finally BAs give Companies Options. In a time of change, BAs provide the necessary support and bridging required for any SDLC approach. If teams want to try Agile or iterative methods in order to speed time to market or reduce costs, BAs can support that transition by focusing the group on delivering the right thing for the right reasons even faster than before.

Requirements Management in times of Recession

We are certainly living in difficult times, and changes in our world are almost inevitable, from the political to the geographic to the financial. Unfortunately some of us will face cutbacks in resources in the near future.

Requirements management is one of the software development areas that often gets put on the chopping block during resource cuts (along with other important areas like usability, user documentation, testing, architecture and even coding itself).  Given the current financial environment, though, the need to be prepared may take on additional importance today. Hopefully the following Four simple suggestions will help you be prepared in case you’re faced with this challenge going forward.

1) Focus on the priority

Satisficing is an approach which focuses on adequacy over perfection — you’re done when you have a “good enough” answer, rather than “the ultimate” answer. It allows you to continue to make progress on the overall project even when you don’t have all of the information that will be required eventually. It also shows the rest of the team that you’re interested in working together on the highest priority issues, rather than sacrificing “the good” in an effort to reach ‘the great.” Chances are, “the good” is indeed good enough.

2) Strengthen Interpersonal Relationships

This is a great time to establish or strengthen ties up the org chart & shoring up relationships with your peers. Many people aren’t as comfortable speaking with managers, directors, and VPs, but having their support for you and your work can help prioritize requirements management among their peers, and any support we can get from management is great!

3) Use Requirements Management Framework

When resources are limited, though, expending energy to reinvent the process wheel on each project is no longer an option. A standard framework helps you evaluate each project’s needs objectively, making those inevitable conversations about what can and can’t be done within a limited time-frame and with limited budget a bit easier.

4) Use Tools & Metrics effectively

Requirements tool categories range from document management to team collaboration to requirements documentation and traceability. While each type of tool certainly has a place in requirements management, they are often viewed as quick-fix solutions. Tools alone can’t fix a broken requirements process — tools are aids for, not a replacement of, skilled analysts.

Begin capturing metrics in order to reinforce the value your work provides — you can start small and expand the scope of your metrics in order to fit your particular organizational situation. When you can show how your requirements work positively impacts the company’s bottom line, you take requirements management off the table during discussions of resource cuts.




The Business Analyst Toolkit – Interpersonal Skills

In addition to the analytical and technical skills that we need to bring to the table, interpersonal skills are absolutely vital to the business analyst's work.

When it comes to understanding the present state we need to think about how stakeholders view this issue. Is it important to them? Is it a contentious topic, something in which there is vested interest on many sides? If so, we could potentially be stepping into a mine field here of different ideas and different agendas, and we need to keep that in mind, so that we can extract information from our sources as objectively as possible and try and create a solution around which consensus can be built, so that a solution can eventually be implemented. To do so , we have to first understand HOW stakeholders might be impacted by this issue, and to what degree they are impacted. Furthermore, is this a positive or a negative impact?

We also need to think about how much support exists for progress to be made in any capacity whatsoever. It could be that this is a relatively low level priority for most people within the organization. If we think it should be of a higher priority, than the onus will be on us to lobby, to some extent, to influence and to build support for a solution to take place.  To do so we'll need to be able to provide convincing evidence that can help to rally others to our cause. We have to think about what cultural factors might relate to this issue as well.

Based on your organizations norms there may be certain different ways of doing things in place that might be very difficult to impact or influence, even if they are one of the underlying causes of the issue or preventing us from taking advantage of an opportunity. More positively, there might be certain traits of the organization or personalities within it that can allow us to very aggressively tackle this problem or to go after that opportunity in a big way.  Understanding these cultural factors give us an idea of what's possible and practical given the other people that we have to work with.  Finally, think again about that impact of the political climate within the organization.

This needs to be kept in mind when understanding the present state and what might shift or change what the responses might be as we move from here to some future state.

In that future we need to think about what will be different, better or worse, and what skills and knowledge will have been created within the organization? Here we can help to develop the skills of some of these stakeholders, perhaps make their workplace a more fun or desirable place to be in, which can lead to better talent in the future. We might make people more satisfied with their jobs, helping us to retain them in the long term or we can help to reduce frustrations that lead to higher levels of productivity.  All of these can be positive outcomes for the organization and relate directly to the personal context of the problems or opportunities we might be analyzing.

In determining how to get there there are a number of questions we should ask.

First, what communication methods are most effective and efficient when dealing with different stakeholders?

How can we help to convey our message and extract information from them that can be valuable? Often times focus groups or different moderated sessions might be used in order to gather more information about the needs of the organization. In these cases there may be arguments, disagreements about what is wrong or what the best path forward might be.

How do we defuse these and help to ensure that the focus remains on finding a solution that's best for everyone?

What kind of influence must be used, can be used, and by whom, and on whom?

Do we have the authority from a formal sense to require stakeholders to speak with us or provide us with information?

In many cases we might not, which means we need to be persuasive.

We need to find ways to make them believe, understand and buy into the value of what it is we're seeking to accomplish. After all, everyone perceives their own time as very valuable, and if you need some of someone else's the onus is on you to convince them that it's worth their time to give you some of theirs.

Finally, what kind of team environments must be managed within business analysis?

This is true both during the analysis process when multiple individuals might work together, and when it comes to the sort of solutions that we might propose. We need to understand the project environments that might be practical, possible, and likely to succeed within our organization, so that our recommendation scan be effective.

Key tools and skills that are extremely useful in this regard include a wide variety of communication skills, such as conflict resolution,  an awareness of cultural differences,  decision making skills,

facilitation, where we help to facilitate discussions between others, leadership, as well as negotiating skills, political awareness of the landscape around us and the type of responses we might expect from different stakeholders and why, and presentation skills that can allow us to share this information that we've been able to gather.




The Business Analyst Toolkit – Technical Skills

3 Step process to start with:

When trying to understand the present state we have to question what the organizations current technical capabilities might be. After all, we might have a strategic idea from our analytical research of what it is we seek to accomplish what exact capabilities will we need in order to go from here to there?

  • To begin with, we have to understand what we can do right now because that'll give us a better idea of what might be possible, what we'll need to change in order to get to that desired state, and what that desired state might be.
  • We need to think about what technical factors might be responsible in whole or in part for the challenge or opportunity that we're facing
  • Third, what technical prowess do we need to have in order to fully grasp the situation?

As a business analyst we aren't expected to have the same level of expertise as many of the subject matter experts and key stakeholders that we might need to be able to speak with intelligently, however, we do need to have at least a baseline understanding of our area in order to appreciate what these underlying technical challenges might be.

For example, if you're working within software development area you want to at least have some understanding of what might be a hard or easy problem to solve from a technical perspective. Rather than simply waving your hands and saying, well you're smart, you can figure it out, we need to have an appreciation for what they need to go through in order to bring that solution to life. Doing so will help us ensure that our end solution is effective and efficient in meeting whatever problem or opportunity is that we might be investigating.

When it comes to defining the desired future state, what changes and how technical capabilities are expected following completion of work, we need to be able to speak about this at some level of detail, so that we have objectives that are clear and measurable. We can't just say that we want our systems to be faster. We need to be able to say that we expect to deploy this type of solution, using this sort of architecture, resulting in x percent improvement, based on these sort of facts or evidence that lead us to believe that that will be possible. Without that level of detail, even at this relatively early part of what might turn into an extended project, we're simply not offering much value.

We also need to think about what new technical skills will or must be acquired by stakeholders along the way. It may turn out that while attacking this problem or opportunity on its own might not be terribly cost effective, we're in fact learning so many new things, both in terms of what our key stakeholders and other resources might learn, that it's worth undertaking simply for that educational process. Think, for example, about how much was learned by the aerospace community during the Apollo project sending men to the moon. There were so many different challenges that had to be met, and so many things were learned that didn't just apply directly to the space program, but also to a wide variety of industries that touched it in some capacity during that initiative.

These technical skills cascaded through a wide variety of different areas, providing untold benefits into the future. Perhaps your project or the type of analysis that you're looking at right now might lead to the same sort of cascading effect at a smaller flow, of course, of new skills that can be valuable throughout the organization. When it comes to determining how to get there portion, bringing that past or that present into the future, we have to look at what capabilities need to be developed in order to reach that future state.

Now we did this when it came to the future state, but now we need to put steps together that can get us from here to there. We need to think about the skills that have to be developed in order to reach that desired state, and who needs to develop those skills in order for that future state to be accomplished.

Finally ,as always, we need to also question once again, whether the expected benefit exceeds the expected cost. If not it's entirely possible we should not take any action at all.

If so, then we need to continue pursuing this. The key tools and skills from a technical perspective will vary widely based on the type of work that you are undertaking. You're in a software development environment versus a building construction environment versus an aerospace engineering environment. It might be very different in terms of the tools and skills that you need to bring to the table or the type of underlying technical concepts that you need to have an understanding of. However, having technical awareness and systems thinking abilities will be useful in all endeavors, so always seek to understand the type of work that you're analyzing. If nothing else, it'll provide you with the value context you need to do your job effectively.

The Business Analyst Toolkit – Analytical Skills

What tools and traits are most valuable when it comes to the work of business analysis? There are three main categories that we should look at, analytical, technical, and interpersonal.

First, let's take a closer look at analytical traits and how the apply to understanding the present state, the first step in our role as a business analyst.

The first query we need to consider is what information is valuable to gather and analyze. Here we need to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. In the data that we collect, in the conversations that we have with stakeholders, in the different documents that we might analyze and read over in order to understand the present state of an issue. What information here helps us to get to the root cause of the issue that we're trying to identify or address, and what information is kind of extraneous and not very helpful. It just gets in the way or distracts us from that root heart of the matter that we're trying to get to.

For example, we might see that a certain process is running 270% behind schedule and we might think, well there's the problem, we've identified the root cause. Of course, if it turns out that this is only a 10 second process within a larger framework that might take several hours of work to accomplish, then maybe that's not actually the bottleneck we're looking for, so we have to be able to put that analysis in the context along with all of the information that we gather and deem valuable toward our fundamental understanding. When it comes to defining the desired future state we have to think about what the optimal outcome might be given the project or business objectives that we face.

Analytical skills can also be important in determining how we get from the present to that desired future state. In this area we need to look at some key information, such as the organization's current competencies.

  • What are we good at right now?
  • What  resources DO WE  HAVE to accomplish?
  • Furthermore, what competencies will be required to move us to that desired future state?
  • What do we need to get good at or what type of talent do we need to acquire?

Most important focus for us would be verify that that expected benefit will in fact exceed the expected cost that we project.

Key tools and skills within the analytical area include, as you might expect, analytical skills such as the ability to think creatively, and to think critically, to be objective, and to look at things from multiple viewpoints, to get the best understanding of where we are, where we want to go, and how we can get there. We need to have a knowledge of our business and our industry because these tasks will change so much in their particulars from project to project, from topic to topic, and industry to industry. We need to have organizational skills, so that we can compile and understand and harness all of this information that we bring into the fold here. If we don't have some sort of way of keeping track of this information it will be very difficult for us to analyze it and to leverage it in a way that can give us a better understanding.

Finally, we also can benefit from project management methodologies. Having an understanding of the project management lifecycle, and different ways that projects can be accomplished, cannot only help us with our miniature project of business analysis, but also in understanding how to put that analysis in the context that a project manager will need  to succeed in bringing that solution to life.

What is your role as a BA?

Defining Business Analysis

Business Analysis is increasingly vital to today's business environment. By identifying problems and opportunities, discovering and recommending solutions, and helping to foster a comprehensive understanding of stakeholder requirements, business analysts can help organizations choose and structure projects and initiatives more effectively.

Let's begin taking a closer look at Business Analysis and what it is that we seek to accomplish, what process we follow, and so on. First, as a business analyst we begin by determining a problem and identifying a business need. Oftentimes this may already be done in some capacity for us. Perhaps we have noticed that there's a problem or it's been brought to our attention by someone who might eventually become a project sponsor er, someone who is simply an upper level executive within an organization. They've noted that there's an issue, there's been a call for action to take place, but before we can begin we need a better idea of what precisely is going wrong or, in a more positive sense, what opportunity might be available for us to leverage.

In this case, we're going to compare our business goals and objectives to the current situation that we see. In doing so we can help to identify where a gap might exist between what we want to accomplish and what we are accomplishing. Then we can dive deeper into that problem using tools like root cause analysis to try and get past the symptoms that we might see on the surface to better understand the underlying issue, so that we don't just patch it, but instead we fix the issue for good.

From there we want to identify and recommend viable solutions that can meet these needs that we've identified. During this process we're going to seek to speak with different stakeholders and subject matter experts, those who have a good idea of what it is that needs to be accomplished, and how it might be able to be accomplished in order to solve this problem or meet this opportunity.

In the next stage we're going to elicit, document, and manage these stakeholder requirements in order to meet our business and project objectives, so first we were able to come up with some of the potential viable solutions, and now we incorporate even more of that feedback into the mix to make sure that the solution that we recommend and move forward with meets the requirements of all of those people involved.

This can include people who have to work directly with whatever the problem might be or those who might be impacted by its solution, either while it's being implemented or by its end result. Once we've come to a consensus, and we've been able to create a business case that proves that we should move forward with the solution. we can recommend this solution, and then help to facilitate implementation of this product service or end result .

After all, at the end of business analysis we haven't actually solved the problem, but rather we've set the stage. We built a foundation on which a new initiative can begin to take place.

A project can be chartered based on information first surfaced during business analysis. That project can then move forward to fix the underlying problem, and to help address those underlying needs that were developed and identified during business analysis processes.

Now business analysis isn't necessarily only conducted by someone as a business analyst. Of course, this can be the case, and there are full time business analysts, especially in many larger organizations today. In many cases, business analysts might be the first ones to identify a problem or opportunity in the first place. It might not come from a potential project sponsor or some sort of upper level executive or someone on the front lines who's noticed that an issue might be impacting their work.

Instead, the business analyst might be the first one to discover that this potential opportunity or area to address an underlying problem might exist.

However ,there are also a multitude of different part time business analysts. Often times these sort of roles are conducted in addition to other responsibilities. In these cases the business analyst might not be called a business analyst. They might be called a business architect, a business systems analyst, an enterprise analyst, systems analyst, process analyst, product manager, project manager or requirements engineer, among other titles. In each of these cases we're seeking to perhaps build processes or have a better understanding of how the business works or could work better.

In the case of a product or project manager, they're directly responsible for making sure that certain objectives are completed, and certain end results come about because of that work. In these cases they might also be able to identify these needs and incorporate it into the product or the project that they're helping to manage, so that those needs can be addressed. In any case, the business analyst job is actually quite simple, and it gives us some understanding of the many different types of people that can conduct these sort of tasks.

Summarizing the BA Role

What a Business Analyst seeks to do at a fundamental level, is to first understand what the present state is of either the organization as a whole or a certain subset that might be impacted by this problem or opportunity. They also need to be able to define the desired future state, not only where are we, but where do we want to go, and why do we want to go there?

Third, we then have to determine how technique get there. Tying these two together, having and understanding of what capabilities exist now, what capabilities need to exist in the future in order for us to get to that desired future state, and provide recommendations on the roadmap that we can follow in order to get from here to there.


Business Analytics: Requirements for Big Data Transformations

The entire IT industry is transforming rapidly. In fact, they are getting the most out of big data and analytics for their future growth. Along with time, the companies have accumulated a lot of useful data. Now they have come across the need to generate meaningful information out of the gathered data. Otherwise, they will be wasting one of the best resources that they have to ensure the growth of business in the future. That’s where big data transformation come into play. Most of the companies have understood this fact as well. Hence, they have embraced analytics into their core strategies as well.

Even though most of the companies are aware of the importance of big data transformations, they tend to make some mistakes during the times when they get the needed solutions Some of them believe that they can simply purchase an analytics solution, which can be used to collect and load data. They believe that it will help them to solve the issues that they are dealing with. When you do a simple research on the internet, you will come across a large number of applications, which are designed for big data analysis as well. However, you cannot simply purchase such a tool and implement. You will need to do a requirement analysis on your business and figure out the best option

The implementation of business analytics in an organization needs software requirements. The requirements can further be divided into many different categories. They include business rules, functional requirements, non-functional requirements and business requirements. The requirement model created will assist them to get a better understanding of how people will go ahead and use the solution in order to drive the business rules.

There are four major steps associated in the process of eliciting and developing the requirements of a business analytics project. They include:

  1. Prioritizing the work done through meaningful discussions.
  2. Define how data will be used.
  3. Specify the exact data requirements.
  4. Define the analysis process and the transformation of data

When it comes to an analytics project, you should have a clear understanding on how the users prefer to consume data and use the results that are coming in from the analytics solution. One of the major objectives here would be to determine the level of analytics, which is needed to transform data and end up with expected results.

With the assistance of a good business analytics project, there is a possibility to run the appropriate algorithms and data to enable the data predictions in an effective manner. The usage scenarios and the prediction models should still be specified within the requirements. Then there is a possibility to configure the analytics system in an effective manner.

For a business analytics project, it is important for the software development requirements to be pre-defined. However, the approach followed is slightly different from a traditional software development project. If these steps can be followed, there is a possibility to end up implementing a successful project.

Why Stakeholders Don’t Tell You Everything?

The reason why stakeholders don’t tell you everything is because they don’t tend to realize that it is important for them to tell the required information to you. Therefore, it is important for you to have a clear understanding on discovering what they do. You should also make plans on how to watch your stakeholders in action to conduct a successful business analysis.

Here are some effective tips, which you can follow in order to overcome the frustrations that may build up in such situations. You should understand that it’s the nature of stakeholders and you cannot change it. Therefore, you must follow the below mentioned tips and make sure that you get the most out of stakeholders.

  • Identify your stakeholders and watch them in action

To begin with, you should clearly understand who your stakeholders are. Then you can figure out the factors, which motivate them. In simple terms, a stakeholder is a person, who will be affected by the work you do. Depending on the nature of impact, you can divide the stakeholders into three different categories.

The first group is primary stakeholders, who will directly be affected by the work you do. Then you see the secondary stakeholders, who will indirectly be affected by the work you do. You can also find key stakeholders, who can have a strong influence over the work.

You must come up with a strategy to monitor these different stakeholder groups. Then you will find it as an easy task to uncover all the information you need to know.

  • Carefully listen to the stakeholders

Some people tend to do the mistake of closing the communication lines with stakeholders, just because they are not interested in hearing. In fact, you should carefully listen to the stakeholders. You can put some additional efforts to figure out their point of view. The extra effort that you put in here give effective results at the end of the day. This will help you to make sure that you don’t miss any of the important pieces of information as well.

  • Meet the stakeholders in person

It is better if you can meet the stakeholders in person... You need to take the most out of this opportunity in order to gather all required information from the stakeholder. You should also ask cross-questions and clarify all the doubts that you have in your mind so that you will be able to go ahead with the project with a clear set of requirements.