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Monday, February 6, 2017

Confirmation, acceptance and approval

Once the solution has been chosen and the requirements to implement the solution have been developed, the next phase requires three steps: confirmation, acceptance and approval, or in the vernacular of the BABOK: verification, validation and approval.  The tendency, driven mostly by tradition, but also by time, is to do all three steps or passes at the same time.
The process is somewhat like that of getting an article published. First you have to make sure the content is correct, then you make sure the grammar, spelling, and so forth are correct (typically called copy editing) and then you have to get the final result approved by the editor or publisher.  When journalists write their articles they go through each step independently with different individuals involved.
While it might be convenient to dress up the requirements document or, as we call it, the solution document, by running it through editing to prepare it for the “requirements review session” and during that session identity what needs to be changed and then get that sometimes elusive sign-off, it is better to separate the three steps.
One step involves the stakeholders who will be using the system or functionality or features you are defining to solve the problem.  The focus is on the content. There is no approval, nor any discussion of format or grammar.  There are tricks to ensure the conversation remains focused on the content.
The second step is an “internal” step with other business analysts or authors of the same material.  This is where the grammar, formatting, conformance to organizational standards, and so forth are verified.  This is typically a peer review or inspection, and the discussion of content should be minimal. This is true especially if the business stakeholders have already confirmed that the requirements solve the problem.
The final step is the approval and the only thing that happens in the approval step is a sigh off. If the other two steps have been completed, the approval becomes a “rubber stamp” exercise since we know beforehand that the document is going to be approved because all parties to it have seen it, confirmed the content, verified the format and accepted it. 
Separating the three steps ensures approval of the document with little delay.  Of course, you have to be sure that in fact the document has been accepted by all the previous reviewers before the approval takes place.

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